Fans and pundits have taken aim at F1 chiefs for allegedly trying to “manufacture drama” for Drive to Survive.

Mercedes-Benz bosses were left furious – to the point of instructing a top sports lawyer – after Max Verstappen controversially pipped title rival Lewis Hamilton to the 2021 championship in yesterday’s dramatic season finale in Abu Dhabi.

A jaw-dropping finish to the race was witnessed by over 7.4million spectators in the UK. Michael Masi, race director allowed lapped cars pass Hamilton with a safety car. It set up an exciting last lap matchup with Verstappen.

Masi set up an amazing photo and a compelling story, but Mercedes furiously protested that Masi had not followed safety rules. 

Masi could decide how the safety car should be used, according to the FIA – F1’s governing body.

It has led fans and pundits to wonder if the goal was to create drama to match the intense F1 season. 

Masi’s move would be a great storyline for Drive to Survive. This riveting Netflix documentary has attracted many new fans to the sport. 

With debris strewn across the track, race director Michael Masi (pictured) called out the safety car, bunching up the pack in the final laps of the race

Race director Michael Masi, pictured, called the safety car after debris was scattered across the track. He then gathered the group in the last laps.

Mercedes-Benz bosses were left furious - to the point of instructing a top sports lawyer - last night after Max Verstappen (pictured) controversially pipped title rival Lewis Hamilton to the 2021 championship in yesterday's dramatic season finale in Abu Dhabi

Mercedes-Benz bosses were furious and had to instruct a sports lawyer after Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton (pictured) to yesterday’s drama finale in Abu Dhabi.

On much fresher tyres, Verstappen breezed past the seven time champion Lewis Hamilton (pictured) in the final lap to secure the race win and his first ever F1 world title

Verstappen, using much more fresh tyres (pictured), breezed by Lewis Hamilton (7-time champion) on the final lap to claim the win and the first F1 World title.

It has lead pundits and fans to question whether the decision was about creating a dramatic end to fit the high drama that has gripped F1 fans this season. Some have suggested Masi's decision would create a 'juicy storyline' for Drive to Survive (pictured) - a gripping behind-the-scenes Netflix documentary that has attracted a huge number of new fans to the sport

Fans and pundits have questioned whether Masi’s decision was to create a dramatic ending to match the drama of F1 this season. Masi’s move would have created a compelling storyline for Drive to Survive, (pictured), which is a fascinating behind-the-scenes Netflix documentary that attracted many new fans to F1 this season.

Jordan Bianchi wrote for The Athletic and was among those that criticised Masi’s decision.

He wrote: ‘Masi’s flimsy justification to (Toto) Wolff (Mercedes-Benz’s team principle) along with his refusal to speak to the media afterward only further undermines any confidence that Masi is capable of effectively officiating a race.


Michael Masi, an Australian has served as F1’s race director since 2019. He is also F1 safety delegate, permanent starter, head of F1’s technical department and is responsible for the safe running and operation of every grand prix.

Is he a former race director?

Masi was appointed after Charlie Whiting’s unexpected death.

Are there any scandalous activities he has been involved with?

He was the one responsible for abandoning the Belgian Grand Prix in 2021. He attempted to restart the race and used his power to stop the clock, but the race was stopped after a few safety car laps.

Race director Michael Masi has faced criticism for his safety car call on Sunday

Michael Masi, Race Director of Michael Masi was criticised for calling Sunday safety car.

‘He might as well just have said “because I said so.” Or that he wanted to make sure Netflix gets another juicy storyline for the next season of Drive to Survive.

“All that does is reduce what Verstappen achieved.” What the Dutchman accomplished should not be minimized.

Other people also claimed the same, such as Paul Ryding (Hong Kong-based journalist) who tweeted: “The irony of it all, F1 probably believe the “thrilling final” they created on the fly to air Drive to Survive next season would attract more viewers.

“In reality, the season had been captivating enough that the concocted ending would have turned off a lot people from the sport. 

The debate was also attended by high-profile F1 enthusiasts, such as Trevor Noah (South African comedian), host of The Daily Show, a popular US satire program. 

He said, “Terrible results for Lewis Hamilton (F1.)” The championship was decided in the last race. There were many online arguments about the rules and dramatic end to Drive to Survive.

It’s better to have a controversial sport than one that is boring. 

The debate was also involving Tim Shipman (Chief Political Commentator at Sunday Times), Twitter user Tim Shipman wrote, “That’s going back to court.” He tweeted: ‘That’s going to court.

“They decided to create a conclusion to Drive to Survive.” Most of the year, I support Verstappen. Lewis deserves it.

Metro’s F1 journalist Adam Haynicholls replied that the move could be avoided if the race ends behind a safety vehicle.

He stated that he felt the need to make sure an extraordinary season was not ruined by the safety car.

Red Bull was given a bad rap for the Turn 1 accident, but they won the lottery on lap 58. Safety cars are unpredictable. Sometimes you’re lucky, and other times you’re not.

Others joined the discussion, some sharing memes and pictures about the outcome. One fan, sharing a picture of Ant and Dec with a microphone, wrote: ‘Drive  to Survive producers to the FIA.’ 

Even Netflix was in the act, tweeting: “Someone should make this a documentary.” 

Drive to Survive is an Netflix documentary that takes you behind the scenes of F1 teams, and their drivers.

It was directed by James Gay-Rees (British film director, and the filmmaker of Senna), who also directed the F1 documentary Senna. The movie tells the story of Formula One’s ups and downs from the perspective of the people involved.

Mercedes is being helped by Paul Harris QC, a lawyer.

Toto Wolff (the Mercedes team principal) was last night in negotiations with Paul Harris QC. Paul Harris QC is an accomplished sports lawyer who has represented Premier League clubs such as Liverpool, Manchester City, and Liverpool.  

The Litigation Tracker team from The Lawyer named Monckton Chambers’ Barrister of the Year in 2021.

Legal gudie Legal 500 describes Harris as a’very forceful, direct advocate. Harris represented Manchester City in the Court of Arbitration for Sport. 

After a successful appeal, UEFA decided to expel the club from its Champions League competition.

The Claimant also prevailed in court before the Supreme Court, in what is being called the biggest ever UK damages case.

Mercedes has been represented in previous arbitration cases by Mr. 

He was also a part of Racing Point F1’s case about the clutch control in 2019 Alfa Romeo F1 cars.

It followed the 2018 season and was first to air in 2019. It was a difficult season because major teams such as Ferrari and Mercedes were not allowed to access Netflix. Instead, the series focused on the challenges faced by Red Bull and the struggles of Haas F1 Team.

The show was such a success, that even more people joined it. In Season Three, Lewis Hamilton, his Mercedes team, and other interview subjects were featured on the show.

American viewers have been flocking to F1 ever since Drive to Survive launched to spark a great interest in the show.

ESPN reported that its average viewer per race has risen from 547,000 viewers in 2018 to 9228,000 by 2021.

F1 has been a strong connection in Britain for many years. This season, Hamilton and Verstappen’s thrilling title battle, has helped to rekindle interest.

There was a peak audience of 7.4million across C4 and Sky at the race’s climax yesterday, which was a 60 per cent audience share.  

The grandstand was closed yesterday after Hamilton, seven-time champion of the world, attempted to claim eight titles. 

Verstappen was a younger Dutch racer, which led to many high-profile incidents and crashes.

Silverstone was where the collision occurred. Verstappen flew into a barrier and hit it at high speed. Verstappen required hospital treatment. Hamilton was subject to a penalty for the accident. 

They crashed in Italy again, Verstappen’s car ending up on Hamilton’s. It was a horrible collision that ended both of their races. 

The title race was at fever pitch last weekend in Saudi Arabia when Hamilton and Al-Hayat collided once more, sparking much controversy. Hamilton was victorious in the race, and Hamilton tied the points for the season’s finale. 

More controversy arose on Abu Dhabi’s lap 1, when Hamilton took a turn after Verstappen had forced him wide. Masi overruled Red Bull’s appeals. 

Christian Horner, Red Bull’s boss described it as a sporting miracle. Hamilton was 11 seconds ahead, and the race had been moving along quickly. However, Williams driver Nicolas Latifi crashed against a barrier.

At Silverstone the pair collided, with Verstappen flying into a barrier at speed, leaving him needing hospital treatment. Hamilton was penalised for the collision

The pair collided at Silverstone, Verstappen hitting a barrier and flying through it. Verstappen was left with serious injuries that required hospitalization. Hamilton was punished for his collision

The pair crashed again in Italy when Verstappen's car ended up on top of Hamilton's in a nasty looking collision which halted both their races

In Italy, Verstappen’s car crashed onto Hamilton’s. It was a horrible collision that ended in both of their races.

And the title race reached fever pitch in Saudi Arabia last weekend when the pair collided again, sparking controversy. Hamilton went on to win the race and level the points to set up yesterday's season finale. Pictured: Hamilton and Verstappen battle it out in Jeddah

The title race was at fever pitch last weekend in Saudi Arabia when Hamilton and Al-Hayat collided once more, sparking much controversy. Hamilton was victorious in the race, and the points were level for yesterday’s final. Pictured: Hamilton and Verstappen fight it out in Jeddah

The track was littered with debris, so race director Masi called the safety car and gathered the rest of the field in the closing laps. 

Mercedes was certain that the race would be stopped under the safety car and did not want to let Verstappen take the lead. However, Mercedes decided to stop Hamilton from being pitted for newer tyres. Red Bull gambled, and pulled Verstappen in the pit lane, while Hamilton continued.

Finale of F1 Season draws 7.4 million viewers

Peak audience numbers of 4.4 Million tuned in to Channel 4 for the Formula One Season Finale, which was held at Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, drew peak viewership figures of 4.4 Mio.

Max Verstappen secured his maiden F1 championship title with a dramatic last-lap pass at Yas Marina Circuit. The Yas Marina Circuit had a peak viewing figure at 4.4 million for a mere one minute at 2.32pm.

Red Bull driver Lewis Hamilton was defeated by the Red Bull driver in the last stages. The Red Bull safety car helped him to get ahead of Hamilton.

The combined peak television audience was 7.4 million, which represented a 60% share. It included Channel 4 and the three Sky Sports channels.

The confusion reigned when Michael Masi, the underfire race director, changed his mind and allowed lapped cars pass the safety car. Verstappen was able to take Hamilton out on the last lap, while Hamilton, who is now in second, took the lead. He then made his move for his first F1 championship title.

Two appeals were immediately filed by Mercedes against the outcome. One against Verstappen, claiming that he overtook under a safety vehicle and another claiming that he violated race rules following safety car periods – both were rejected.

Masi abruptly announced that he would use the safety car in one more race lap.

Contrariously, Verstappen also let a few cars lapped Hamilton by the safety car past it, giving him a clear advantage over the British driver.

Verstappen won the race on fresher tyres and he was able to pass the seven-time champion in the last lap.

Mercedes  believed all lapped cars should have been allowed through, rather than just the ones between Hamilton and Verstappen. The safety car would have stopped the race at this point, and it would have been at least another lap. 

The rules stated that safety cars should be pulled after laps have been completed. Hamilton would therefore have won under safety cars.  

Mercedes expressed outrage at yesterday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix decision to allow Hamilton and Verstappen cars.

Toto Wolff, Mercedes team principal, was audible shouting at Mase as the cars raced on the final lap. This was wrong.  

Hamilton’s fellow teammate next year, Williams, George Russell, tweeted that “THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!”

Max is an amazing driver and has enjoyed an exceptional season. Although I admire Max tremendously, what has just occurred is unacceptable. It’s unbelievable what I’ve seen.

After the race Mercedes lodged two protests to the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) – the governing body of F1 – over Masi’s decision. 

Yesterday Wolff was in discussions with Paul Harris QC (a prominent sports lawyer who has represented Premier League clubs such as Liverpool and Manchester City) about the matter.

Toto Wolff, the team principal, was in discussions with Paul Harris, QC, the barrister of the team. Harris is a leading sports lawyer, who has represented Premier League clubs such as Liverpool and Manchester City. 

Mercedes stated that they had filed an appeal. After their first protest to the safety car incident, Hamilton lost the victory. This happened four hours later.

According to one insider, there was no other legal route. Mercedes will have 96 hours for confirmation on whether or not they will appeal. 

MailOnline reached out to F1, the FIA, and Netflix for a comment.  

Max Verstappen to be STRIPPED for his first World Championship title 

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the first F1 Driver’s World Championship. The party will go on until the early hours of the morning. Mercedes has filed an appeal against these official results. 

Toto Wolff, the team’s principal, has yet to respond to the drama. However, Mercedes appears to be strongly against the FIA at the time this article was written. 

Mercedes looks to challenge a decision by Michael Masi as race director. Verstappen allowed Hamilton and Verstappen five cars to pass the safety car in the penultimate lap. Verstappen could also be argued to have briefly passed Hamilton behind the safety.

In the rulebook, Article 48.8 says ‘no driver may overtake another car on the track, including the safety car, until he passes the Line (see Article 5.3) for the first time after the safety car has returned to the pits.’

Additionally, Article 48.12 provides that any cars being lapped by the leader are required to pass those on the lead lap or the safety car.

Concerning the first, Verstappen pulled up beside Hamilton as he approached Turn 12 on lap 56, before the race resumed on lap 58, the last lap.

Race Control also told Lando norris, Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon that they were not satisfied with the argument.

But, Lance Stroll, Mick Schumacher, and Daniel Ricciardo were not provided with the exact same instructions. 

Art 48.12 states that the safety car must be present unless the course clerk considers it necessary.

Mercedes' case looks to question a decision made by race director Michael Masi (pictured at Yas Marina circuit yesterday), who allowed five cars in between Hamilton and Verstappen to overtake the safety car on the penultimate lap of the race - and may also argue that Verstappen briefly overtook Hamilton behind the safety car.

Mercedes may challenge a decision by Michael Masi, race director (pictured at Yas Marina Circuit yesterday), which allowed five cars to pass Hamilton and Verstappen on the penultimate lap. Verstappen could also be argued to have briefly passed Hamilton behind the safety-car.

Although it is not clear what actions could be taken to address the situation, an investigation has already begun. 

Final verdict: If there are any sanctions, they will fundamentally alter the tone of the title fight and, potentially, strip Verstappen from the trophy.

Hamilton might win the eighth award, if any changes are made to the race results.

The sport will find it embarrassing if the results are reversed.

However, it could be worse for them to let the result stand. Rules were apparently conjured on the last lap to create a soap-opera. 

Red Bull will be speaking to the stewards tonight, but there’s still plenty of controversy.