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Vettel keen for Masi to stay as Race Director: He's done a great job

Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel has defended the under-fire Michael Masi, arguing that the Race Director has performed well in his role overall.

Sebastian Vettel has praised Michael Masi for "doing a great job" in his role as Race Director, with the Australian currently under fire. Masi has been in the spotlight ever since his contentious handling of the Safety Car in the closing laps of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which had a direct impact on the outcome of the Drivers' Championship. At the time of writing, Masi still holds on to his job as F1's Race Director as the FIA carry out a thorough investigation into the events of the race. While there's been plenty of criticism levelled at Masi in the two months since Abu Dhabi, there have also been voices of support – with four-time World Champion Vettel putting his confidence in Masi for the future.

Vettel backs Masi for his efforts so far

Asked for his thoughts about the ongoing furore surrounding the 2021 title decider, Vettel told media, including RacingNews365.com : "I think it's just been a pity. There are two interests clashing, one is the sport and the other one is the show. "For me, obviously, I don't care so much about the show because [I'm] involved in and look at it as a sport and from a competitive point of view. "It's not the easiest sometimes to be in the shoes of the referee or Michael's shoes, but I think he's done a great job. Especially filling in after Charlie [Whiting, Masi's predecesssor] passed away so suddenly [at the 2019 Australian GP] and [he] really has been very, very focused and determined to do a good job. "I don't know what his future is but I hope he sticks around because I think he, overall, did a very, very good job. There's a lot of controversy for the last race, but there shouldn't be. If you look at the bigger picture, he's done very well."

Questions raised over F1's rulebook

While Vettel was supportive of Masi, he outlined how he believes the rulebook needs to be made clearer to ensure situations like Abu Dhabi don't crop up again in the future. "I think the main thing is that we focus on the sport and not so much on the show," he went on to comment. "Last year, it was always going to be a great final or great last race, because there was one winner and one loser. Ideally, you have two winners, but that's not how the sport is designed or any sport is designed, so it wasn't gonna work. "Obviously, I was in the race and wondering why we [weren't] earlier in order to get the race started again, but I guess there's a protocol and rules. "I think the main thing is that, going forward, there's clarity [about] what's happening in these sorts of situations and no questions asked anymore."

Vettel in the dark about Hamilton's future

Vettel wasn't able to shed any light on whether long-time rival Lewis Hamilton seriously considered walking away from the sport over the winter. Having lost out on the title to Max Verstappen on the final lap of the season, Hamilton entered a long period of hibernation and only recently ended his silence. "I don't know honestly whether Lewis was considering to stop or not," Vettel said. "I think he's competitive and I don't know... has he confirmed that he's going to race? I don't know what the latest is. Ask him!" Hamilton returned to the Mercedes factory this week as the team prepare for their car launch on 18 February.

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