Brawn defends Masi's 'pragmatic' handling of Saudi Arabian GP

ยฉ XPB 

F1 managing director Ross Brawn praised FIA race director Michael Masi for his handling of last weekend's tumultuous Saudi Arabian GP.

From drivers tripping over each other and causing two red flags in last Sunday's race to the fierce on-track brawl between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, Masi and his team of officials didn't enjoy a minute of respite in Jeddah.

While the Red Bull camp was left disappointed at the end of the day by the outcome of the inaugural event and frustrated by the stewards' calls, with team boss Christian Horner regretting the days when Charlie Whiting officiated in Masi's seat, Brawn saw no reason to slam the Aussie's management of a particularly chaotic event to handle.

"I'd like to compliment the FIA and Race Director Michael Masi in handling well what was an extremely difficult race," said Brawn in his post-race debrief for F1.com.

"I know some people feel some of the decisions were controversial, but I donโ€™t.

"The situation you had with Max and Lewis at the restart, when Michael recommended that Max drop behind Esteban and Lewis, was handled well as the alternative was to report him to the stewards and that could have ended up with a time penalty."

Masi justified his exchange with Red Bull sporting boss Jonathan Wheatley, insisting it was part of a standard procedure. And Brawn agreed with F1's race director.

"I think Michael dealt with it pragmatically," he added.

"This type of discussion goes on several times during a race. If a driver gets by someone or defends unfairly, the Race Director will tell the team to correct the position.

"Some people seem to think Michael was doing a deal. He wasnโ€™t doing a deal.

"It was simple: you accept the decision of the Race Director, with a known outcome, or it gets passed to the stewards to handle it.

"It was a tricky race and a tricky weekend. Weโ€™ve had a lot of challenges here, and I think everyone โ€“ the FIA, F1 and the teams โ€“ has pulled together to make this event work and itโ€™s been a huge success."

Beyond the contentious views and the hectic event, Brawn considered that overall, Jeddah's promoters had delivered a "fabulous track and a brilliant race".

"You are always a little apprehensive when you come to a new track, you donโ€™t know how it will work," commented the Briton.

"The Jeddah Corniche Circuit was certainly very testing and challenging. It took the drivers a little time to come to terms with it, but by the end of the weekend, they were complimenting the track.

"It was impressive how quickly this whole race was put together. It was done in a far shorter time than weโ€™ve ever put a race together before.

"There were one or two rough edges that will be sorted out for the next race in March 2022. Inputs from all stakeholders will be considered and the track and venue will be honed for this next event.

"A fabulous first event, a fabulous track and a brilliant race."

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