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Toto Wolff

Wolff denies claims that Mercedes asked the FIA to fire Masi

Toto Wolff has refuted reports that suggested Mercedes dropped their Abu Dhabi GP appeals in exchange for Michael Masi losing his position.

Toto Wolff Mercedes Hungary 2021
Article
To news overview © Mercedes

Toto Wolff has poured cold water on the suggestion that Mercedes sought to have Michael Masi removed from his position as FIA Race Director.

In the aftermath of the controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the events of which are now well-documented, Mercedes initially signalled their intent to appeal against the steward's decision not to uphold their protests of the race results.

On the day of the appeal deadline, Mercedes confirmed they would not progress with proceedings, despite claiming confidence of victory if the case went outside the FIA's jurisdiction.

As a result, reports elsewhere suggested that Mercedes had decided to drop their appeal in exchange for a deal reached with the FIA to have Masi removed from his position. Earlier this week, the FIA confirmed that Masi will not continue in his role for 2022.

Wolff, speaking with reporters at the launch of the new Mercedes W13 this week, said there was no truth to those reports.

"Us dropping the appeal linked to anyone leaving the FIA is not true. I don't know where that comes [from]," he told media, including RacingNews365.com.

"I think that the restructuring with how decisions are being made in Formula 1, sporting decisions, has been made, and also technical decisions were necessary.

"Last year was a great season, but it created a lot of polarisation with decisions that were not always easy to understand."

Wolff: There was nothing fixed about the race

The way the final minutes of the controversial race played out led to incensed fans calling the race a 'fix', with the title swinging away from Lewis Hamilton and towards Max Verstappen on the very last lap of the race.

Wolff does not feel there is any truth to that scenario, but says the events of the race had proven to be a "shock".

"No, nothing was fixed," he firmly said, when asked if he believed the race could have been.

"It was just the circumstances and decisions that were unprecedented. How they came about, certainly for us, was a shock.

"Three laps to the end, we got a message that the lapped cars were not allowed to unlap themselves. And three minutes, four minutes later, suddenly there's two messages that came out of nowhere.

"Now, obviously, we know what happened in the background, unknown to us (referring to radio messages from the Red Bull camp encouraging the resumption of the race). And then the championship was gone. Within literally half a minute of [the] decision-making process, and that is unprecedented."

But Wolff says the steps taken by the FIA, which included replacing Masi with two new Race Directors as Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas have been confirmed for 2022, mean the Mercedes team are now moving on from the heartbreaking end to the 2021 season.

"We have to move on from that. I think it's in the past," he commented.

"With the measures that were announced by Mohammed (Bel Sulayem, FIA President), I think we need to put it aside. We are not going to forget it because that's simply not possible. But we need to look into 2022.

"With the steps that have been taken by the FIA, [we can] embark with encouragement into the season."

Also interesting:

Video: Are Mercedes playing it safe with the W13 reveal?

Mercedes showed off two different versions of the W13 during their 2022 car launch, with some key differences between the digital and physical models.

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