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Wolff says Masi had become a "liability" for F1

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says former Formula 1 race director Michael Masi ended up being a "liability" for the sport as he would not listen to criticism.

Michael Masi, Race Director, FIA

Masi lost his job over the winter, in the wake of his handling of the safety car restart in the closing stages of last year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Mistakes made by race control in only allowing a select number of backmarkers to unlap themselves, plus the decision to go for an immediate restart, opened the door for Max Verstappen to snatch the win and world title from Lewis Hamilton on the final lap.

Wolff has made no bones about his unhappiness of the events of that day, and said he had no intention of speaking to Masi again after what happened.

In an interview with the Press Association at the Australian Grand Prix, Wolff has revealed his feelings on Masi's character, and how he tried to get through his views to him over a lunch in the build-up to the Abu Dhabi finale.

"It is quite interesting because I had lunch with him [Masi] on the Wednesday before the race, and 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 the guy who always seems to know better'," explained Wolff.

"It wasn't about influencing him but really giving my honest feedback that he shouldn't block outside opinion as simply being wrong."

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Wolff said that as well as drivers being uneasy about how Masi dealt with them, other stakeholders in the sport were not impressed.

"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," added Wolff.

"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.

"He was a liability for the sport because everybody kept talking about Abu Dhabi and the race director, and 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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In contrast to his criticisms of Masi, Wolff has praised the job that new race director Niels Wittich has done so far this season.

However, he has questioned his recent clampdown on drivers wearing jewellery.

"How he has run the first few races has been respectful, solid and he hasn't put a single foot wrong," said Wolff.

"But is that [jewellery ban] a battle he needs to have at this stage? However, if it turns out to be the biggest unfortunate misstep of a race director, I would take it a thousand times over."

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