Toto Wolff caught on camera sharing Michael Masi joke with fan

Max Verstappen prevails in world title shoot-out

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Toto Wolff’s outrage at race director Michael Masi in the dramatic climax of last season’s Formula One World Championship in Abu Dhabi remains at the forefront of supporters’ minds, almost a year since the famous incident that gripped the sporting world. And Mercedes boss Wolff has recently shared a joke with one fan about his comments, with the dust now firmly settled on that famous last lap showdown. 

Masi was removed from his role as F1 race director by the FIA at the end of last season after botching a decision which ultimately decided the World Championship. After being pressed by Red Bull boss Christian Horner, Masi allowed a final lap showdown between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in what was an incorrect interpretation of the rules.

Masi came under fire for allowing some lapped cars to overtake Hamilton during the safety car, which left Verstappen right behind his Mercedes car on brand new fresh tyres. Australian Masi then allowed the race to restart one lap before regulations permitted, leaving Verstappen a free run at Hamilton to claim his first world title.

Verstappen has since claimed a dominant second world title but the drama at the Yas Marina Circuit has not been forgotten. 

Mercedes boss Wolff’s comments to Masi, as he furiously reached for the radio while events were playing out, have gone down in history amongst F1 fans.

“No Michael! No Michael, no! That was so not right!” furious Wolff had insisted. The maligned Masi provided the sharp response: “Toto, it’s called a motor race, okay? We want car racing.”

Wolff and Mercedes remain in vehement disagreement with Masi’s decision that ultimately cost Hamilton a record eighth world title, but anger has subsided over time. 

And Wolff was in a playful mood when responding to a question by a fan that has become a meme in the F1 community. Some fans believed Wolff was calling Masi ‘Mikey’ during the Abu Dhabi rant, but when asked by a fan at the recent Singapore Grand Prix, a jovial Wolff confirmed he called him ‘Michael’.

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The 2022 season has been filled with frustration for Wolff’s Silver Arrows team with drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell both unable to break up the dominance of Red Bull with a race win. 

And Wolff’s frustration has been compounded by the news that Red Bull broke spending limits on their car in Verstappen’s 2021 title win.

The FIA have announced Red Bull were found guilty of a ‘minor breach’ in their budget, meaning they had overspent on the alloted £114 million by less than £6.7m.

Despite the breach, it is unexpected that Hamilton will be awarded last season’s title. And Wolff insists Red Bull’s breach is not ‘minor’ at all and believes their overspending could have made a tangible difference in last year’s title battle.

“Is it a so-called minor breach, because I think the word is probably not correct?” he said. “If you’re spending five million more, and you’re still in the minor breach, it still has a big impact on the championship.

“To give you an idea, we obviously monitor closely which parts are being brought to the track from the top teams every single race – for the 2021 season and the 2022 season.

“We can see that there are two top teams that are just about the same and there is another team that spends more.”

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