Lewis Hamilton has 'nothing to say' to Michael Masi, the man who cost him a world title
Lewis Hamilton says he is not planning on seeking out former race director Michael Masi at this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix as he has “nothing to say” to him.
Masi is back in the paddock for the first time since Abu Dhabi 2021 when he found himself at the centre of the biggest controversy in modern F1. The Australian, now working as the chairman of the Supercars Commission, chose to restart that race with one lap remaining following a late safety car, effectively taking the title from Mercedes’ Hamilton and handing it instead to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who was on fresh rubber. Masi was later found to have made a mistake and lost his job. Hamilton said at the time he felt the race had been “manipulated”.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s action, Hamilton said he did not plan on speaking to Masi as he was so focused on trying to improve his own car following a dreadful start to the season which has seen the seven-time world champion finish fifth in both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Mercedes’ car is around one second a lap slower than Red Bull in race pace.
"I don’t,” Hamilton said. "I am just focused on my future, and focused on trying to get back to winning. There is nothing to say.”
That extraordinary final lap of the 2021 title race in full 😮#AbuDhabiGP 🇦🇪 #F1 pic.twitter.com/kknTMDfpAF
— Formula 1 (@F1) December 12, 2021
Mercedes have now accepted they were wrong to stick with their design philosophy from last year, and are currently engaged in a radical redesign of the W14. And Hamilton - who is out of contract at the end of this year - said he was resigned to the fact it would not be a quick fix, especially with Red Bull continuing to develop their car as well.
“I’m aware that it could take a long time to catch up,” the 38 year-old said. “The Red Bull is just going to continue to evolve. That’s most likely, although some cars do plateau in performance and at some point can’t keep going. It is potentially going to take the rest of the year to close the gap.”
Hamilton denied, though, that he was getting restless and could not envisage ever leaving the team as he seeks to win a record eighth world title.
Asked how he felt about the future at Mercedes, Hamilton said: “I feel amazing about it. I continue to feel very much at home. It is my family, and I see myself being with Mercedes until my last days. If you look at the legends like Sir Stirling Moss, who was with Mercedes until the end of days, that has been the dream for me, to one day have that.
"I have got some amazing allies within the team and some great relationships here and as long as I can continue to help the team and drive the team forward and really contribute then that is why I want to stay.
"If there is ever a point where I feel like I am not able to do that then it is time for a youngster to come in and take my seat But I still feel pretty young and in pretty decent shape."
Hamilton also responded to Nelson Piquet last week being ordered by a Brazil court to pay £780,000 for racist and homophobic comments he made about the British driver, praising the Brazilian government for holding the ex-champion to account.
"It is pretty amazing what they have done holding someone to account, and showing people it is not tolerated and that racism and homophobia is not acceptable and that there is no place for it within our society,” Hamilton said. "I love they have shown that they stand for something, and I wish that more governments out there would do that."
Meanwhile, drivers including Hamilton’s teammate George Russell gave their views on potential tweaks to Friday’s free practice format. Formula One is working to make Fridays “more engaging” for fans, with sprint weekends - where the drivers have one free practice session before qualifying on Friday for a shortened sprint race on Saturday, then a full race on Sunday - deemed a qualified success.
Russell said he felt three free practice sessions were “too many” adding that, having been against sprint races when they were first introduced, he had now come around to the format. Alpine’s Pierre Gasly and Williams’ Logan Sargent were among the drivers to echo the views of the GPDA president.
Hamilton agreed the format could do with tweaking although not at every race.
“I’ve not really thought about it much,” he said. “They’ve experimented with the sprint race weekend, which I think is cool, although there are places where it would not be good, like Monaco.
“[But] I like the format of the sprint weekend where you have one practice session and there is a lot of pressure to get that right and then you’re straight into qualifying. I’ve enjoyed that. I think the time could be spent better over three days as there is a lot of time between sessions.”