‘Max can’t just smash Lewis off the track’: Race director Michael Masi insists there are penalties to pay if Verstappen endangers rival Hamilton in F1 finale on Sunday

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  • The Drivers’ Championship will be decided at the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi
  • Maas Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton level on points ahead of Sunday’s race
  • Verstappen will win if neither gets points based on most race wins
  • This has led some fans to suggest that he may have intentionally crashed into Hamilton.

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Michael Massey may not be the most famous person in the middle of Formula One’s fight for the world championship, but he may still hold the key to the competition.

Maisie is so dedicated to her ungrateful work as race director that she has picked up sticks from her native Australia to live out of suitcases with a partner at Elephant & Castle in London, except she’s barely even there. It sees an itinerary of 22 races around the world and countless track inspections.


Before returning to Sydney for Christmas, comes the defining moment of an entertaining clash between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, who are level on points and only separated by the Dutchman by a 9-8 win margin.

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Race director Michael Massey has addressed suggestions of an intentional crash on Sunday

This means that if Verstappen hits Hamilton on the road in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, he will take the title.

Or will he?

Maisie is not so sure. ‘I can’t control two people’s actions, only they can,’ says Friendly, 42. ‘But within the rules we have penalties, be it time or grid penalties. In addition, the International Sporting Code provides for stewards to disqualify a competitor or dock championship point.

‘So, yes, Max can be deducted points, as can any team. We hope this is not necessary, but it is one of the tools available. I will remind all teams and drivers of these provisions. That stern warning will be at the drivers’ briefing in the paddock on Friday night.

Both title contenders have claimed that they have not been made clear about what is and is not in a close contest. They point to what they believe are conflicting judgments by stewards. It didn’t get more angry when Hamilton and Verstappen collided on the track, among other close encounters, in a strangely action-packed race in Saudi Arabia last Sunday.

Max Verstappen will win the championship if he and Lewis Hamilton don't score

Max Verstappen will win the championship if he and Lewis Hamilton don’t score

Verstappen was given a meaningless 10-second penalty for slowing down too much (plus a five-second penalty for what was declared as an unfair advantage in a separate incident) and too much in the way of the Red Bull driver. Oprobrium fell. However, others believe that neither DRS wanted to take the lead going into the field and Hamilton was equally to blame.

Masi adds: ‘Although they don’t want to admit it, deep down they all know what is deemed legal, what is fair play, what is tough but fair racing and what is not.

‘Every event should be considered separately. Although they may look similar, they are not necessarily the same.

‘There is a general perception that I am responsible for the punishment given, but it is up to an independent panel of stewards to decide whether the fine should be imposed.’

The distinction between policeman and magistrate has not saved Massie from criticism from the Red Bull and Mercedes camps. Verstappen’s team principal Christian Horner was acrimonious after the Saudi race, saying the game was missed by Charlie Whiting.

He was longtime race director before his sudden death in a Melbourne hotel room at the age of 66, on the eve of the 2019 Australian Grand Prix. Suddenly, Maisie was pushed to the top job.

Masi insists Verstappen will be docked if he intentionally put Hamilton in danger

Masi insists Verstappen will be docked if he intentionally put Hamilton in danger

“These comments are nothing to worry about,” says Masi. “We have seen both Christian and Toto (Wolf of Mercedes) say different things off the cuff in the heat of the fight. They are entitled to their point of view.

‘I will be the first to say that Charlie is remembered with his vast experience as a point of reference.

‘Me and my team are doing the best we can. If nothing happens, people get upset. I understand. This is an elite sport.

One aspect of the Saudi race that attracted special notice was the ‘offer’ Masi made to Red Bull, asking if they would accept switching orders for one of the two, when Verstappen hit Hamilton at Turn 2. had made its way behind. ‘it happens. During a race – giving people the ability to give a position,’ counters Massey. ‘The difference was that it was under a red flag and received more attention.

Verstappen (left) and Hamilton have already been involved in several collisions this year

Verstappen (left) and Hamilton have already been involved in several collisions this year

‘This is the most practical way to deal with it,’ it said, adding, “You can do that or it will be sent to the stewards and will result in a timely fine”. It was just that the discussion took a little longer as the race was postponed.

on this weekend. What is Masi’s last wish? ‘I hope it is not decided in the steward’s room,’ he says, ‘but by two men on the track. It is up to them and no one else.’

Sunday’s title Decider is set to air on free-to-air television after Channel 4 reached an agreement to use Sky Sports’ feed for the race.


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