Jost Capito has come to the defence of FIA Race Director Michael Masi, as the Australian's job appears to hang in the balance ahead of the 2022 F1 season.
Masi's handling of the Safety Car in the closing laps of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix had a direct impact on the outcome of the Drivers' Championship, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen winning the title after a last-lap pass on Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton.
The events of the race caused uproar, with the FIA launching a full investigation into the decisions taken by Masi – the report into which is due for release on 18 March.
With the FIA holding extensive talks with the teams and drivers as part of the investigation, Masi can count on the support of Williams boss Capito – whose driver Nicholas Latifi was the cause of the Safety Car when he crashed on Lap 53 of 58.
"I know Masi quite well; I met him a couple of times," Capito told the Collecting Cars podcast.
"I [have] had discussions with him, I [have] had discussions with the stewards – I [have] had quite a lot of discussions especially with Emmanuelle Pirro. What are the issues, what are the difficulties the stewards and Masi have to go through during a race? And I see it's very, very difficult.
"But I think they handle it very well, for what's going on. And also Masi is very professional, and I don't believe anybody in the FIA or the stewards prefer, at any time, any team or any driver. That's absolutely 1000 per cent sure."
Capito: Masi did very well under the pressure
Capito believes the decisions that Masi made on the day were all correct and above board.
He highlighted that there should not be a direct line between the teams and the Race Director, which added to the pressure Masi was under during the critical time of the race.
"You have to take the decisions quite quickly and immediately, and that decision is seen by millions or billions of people live at the same time," he said.
"It's a huge pressure. And I believe they have handled it very well. What I think is not right is that there can be a conversation with the Team Principals or anybody with the team with the Race Director during the race.
"The broadcast is not the issue. I think it's the conversation itself. It's the same as, when you look at football, the coach discussing with a referee during the match."
Capito added: "Also, these decisions during the race should not be able to be protested or looked at [afterwards].
"If you have a football match, and there was a penalty, the penalty will not be taken away after the match if it seems that it wasn't right.
"I think that has to be clarified by the rules and that's the only thing I think has to be done."
"Masi wanted the championship decided in a head-to-head"
Asked whether he believed the decision-making was fair towards Hamilton and Mercedes, Capito was blunt.
"I would say this is like life. If you say sport is absolutely fair, what is fair? Is life fair?" he asked.
"Life isn't fair all the time. I think Masi did it very well under the pressure he was and the decisions he had taken.
"He wanted the championship to be decided without anybody else being involved, which is why he let the [lapped] cars through. They were first and second before the Safety Car, so they should be in that position to decide the championship – it's fully understandable.
"Everything was according to rules that are in place, as I understand it."
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