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Verstappen: Masi appreciated my message of support

Max Verstappen has revealed that Michael Masi reached out to him to express his appreciation for the support he showed for the ousted F1 Race Director.

Michael Masi appreciated the very public show of support from Max Verstappen, as the ousted FIA Race Director maintains a low profile in the aftermath of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix controversy. The FIA recently confirmed that Masi will not continue as F1's Race Director, ending his three-year tenure as the governing body have assigned Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich to share the responsibilities of the top job over the course of the 2022 season. Masi's ousting, brought about due to the FIA's investigation of the contentious race in Abu Dhabi, in which Masi's decision-making played a key role in the outcome of the World Championship, has met with plenty of support – one of the most vocal being Verstappen. The 2021 World Champion claimed that Masi was "thrown under a bus by the FIA" and said the Race Director needed more people around him but "never got the opportunity". Verstappen has since revealed that Masi appreciated his comments. "He appreciated my message. He got a few more," Verstappen told UK publication The Daily Mail. " It was very fresh for him. I have had my moments with the stewards but, at the end of the day, you have to have respect for each other. You don't always have to agree. "The aim is to make the racing better, more exciting but also fair."

Verstappen's "desperate" need to win is gone

Having wrapped up his maiden World Championship in Abu Dhabi, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko suggested that Verstappen could be an even more formidable challenger in 2022, now that he's free of the pressure of the weight of expectation that has surrounded him since entering the sport as a precocious 17-year-old. Verstappen has said that, having achieved his life's mission of claiming an F1 title, he is feeling more relaxed about the future – the Dutch driver recently signed a mouth-watering new contract with Red Bull that will see him stay with the Milton Keynes-based outfit until 2028 . "I will always want to win, but the desperate 'must win' [attitude] is gone," he commented. "It doesn't mean I am less motivated. I have the same level of motivation, maybe more, to do it again. "It feels nice. It is a relaxation. There is less of a rush. I was already in my seventh season. I had never really had a shot at the title before. I had my first chance and, of course, I wanted desperately to do it. "Winning a championship is one of those things that doesn't happen often. It may never happen again, who knows?"

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