Red Bull’s Christian Horner accuses Mercedes of bullying over sacking of Michael Masi

The fallout from last year’s controversial Formula One championship final has continued, with Red Bull chief Christian Horner accusing rival team Mercedes of behavior ‘tantamount to bullying’, ahead of the ousting of Formula One race director Michael Masi.

Red Bull’s star driver finished the season eight points clear of his rival, seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton. But the aftermath of the final race has proved almost as dramatic as the race itself.

The Australian Masi was in the chair as race director for the decisive final contest in Abu Dhabi.

During the race, both Horner and his Mercedes counterpart, Toto Wolff, were repeatedly on the radio to Masi, pressing him to make decisions in their teams’ favour.

In the final laps of the race, Masi altered the rules over the use of a Safety Car and the timing of a race restart.

The director ordered some, not all of the lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to get out of the way following a crash involving Williams driver Nicholas Latifi.

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This allowed time for the grand prix to resume for one lap of racing rather than end under the Safety Car.

The restart allowed the Dutchman, who was on fresh tyres, to catch and pass Hamilton — who was on worn tires — and go on to clinch the world title.

Max Verstappen (right) passed Lewis Hamilton on the final lap in Abu Dhabi to win and clinch the world title.Getty Images / Formula 1: Joe Portlock

Mercedes appealed Masi’s decision but it was not upheld.

In the wash-up of the event, Hamilton refused to commit to racing in Formula One for 2022 until he had seen the result of the FIA’s inquiry into the race.

Last month FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem announced changes, with Masi’s former job to be split between Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas.

“That’s tantamount to bullying. It’s passively aggressive.”

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