Toto Wolff has revealed that he had a conversation with Michael Masi over lunch before last year's title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Mercedes boss Wolff sat down with then-Race Director Masi to offer some "honest feedback" over the Australian's performance, arguing that he "needs to take criticism on board" and not "block outside opinion".
A few days later, Lewis Hamilton was on course to beat Max Verstappen to the race win and the world title, only for a late-race Safety Car - and Masi's well-documented decision-making - to turn the situation on its head.
Masi was subsequently removed from his role, with an FIA investigation admitting to "human error", but the topic remains a painful one for both Wolff and Hamilton.
Wolff reveals pre-Abu Dhabi conversation with Masi
Almost four months on, Wolff has shed some more light on the build up to the dramatic events at the Yas Marina Circuit.
"It is quite interesting, because I had lunch with [Masi] on the Wednesday before the race," Wolff explained to the Press Association.
"I said to him that, 'I really want to tell you, without patronising you, that you need to take criticism on board and develop from there. Lewis does it every day, but you are guy who always seems to know better'.
"It wasn't about influencing him, but really giving my honest feedback that he shouldn't block outside opinion as simply being wrong."
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Wolff suggests that Masi was "immune to feedback"
Wolff went on to question Masi's behaviour in the Race Director role, which he took on in 2019 when Charlie Whiting passed away.
"You hear from the drivers, and how the drivers' briefings were conducted [by Masi], and some of the guys said it was almost disrespectful how he treated some of them," Wolff commented.
"There is a promoter of one of the races in the Middle East who said he was so relieved he had gone because he got so much abuse from him.
"He was just immune to any feedback and even today he has not properly reflected that he did something wrong."
Wolff added: "He was a liability for the sport, because everybody kept talking about Abu Dhabi and the Race Director.
"The Race Director should not be somebody that people talk about, but someone who does the job and makes sure the race is run according to the regulations."
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