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Masi defends stewards delays on F1 decisions

FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi has defended the amount of time it can take for stewards to announce decisions on race weekends.

Michael Masi, Race Director walks the track

Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

At last weekend's Qatar GP, it took over 21 hours from the end of qualifying before final decisions were announced after Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz and Valtteri Bottas were accused of yellow flag offences.

After qualifying finished at 6pm local time, summonses for the three drivers were issued between 8.37pm and 9.40pm, asking for them to appear before the stewards the following afternoon between 1pm and 1.45pm.

The decisions were then published between 3.16pm and 3.35pm – with the last coming just 45 minutes before the pitlane opened and the cars headed out to the grid for the race.

The time taken by the Brazilian GP stewards to examine the right of review requested by Mercedes into the Lewis Hamilton/Max Verstappen incident attracted comment over the Qatar weekend, while the Hamilton rear wing case in Brazil also saw a long wait before the penalty was confirmed.

Masi insists that it takes time to process decisions because of the need to include full explanations.

"All of you have always asked for is more description in decisions rather than just saying this person is guilty or this person is not guilty," he said.

"You actually want as much of an understanding as possible of the process that was gone through. Sometimes if there are any similar types of cases, as you all see that the stewards obviously try to write their decisions, be it last weekend or this weekend, any of them that have a level of nuance to them, they put that level of detail in them.

"As you are all aware that takes time to go through them, draft them, write and rewrite. That's one part, the other part is the teams need to be given their opportunity to present their case.

"So if we look at, as an example, last weekend in Brazil, effectively in total over the two days give or take round figures Mercedes were presenting to the stewards for about two and a half hours.

"So you have got to put that into account as well along with sessions and everything else in between. So it is not straightforward.

"Sometimes I think the stewards would be happy to write just, 'this person has breached the rules' and end of story, but then we will go back a few years and all of you said you want more description."

Michael Masi, Race Director and Stefano Domenicali, CEO, Formula 1

Michael Masi, Race Director and Stefano Domenicali, CEO, Formula 1

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

He added: "You need to consider that when you hand your decision down you have suddenly got appeal time limits and everything else that come into it as well, so the decision that is handed down, teams have to have their right of appeal, so it is all of those time limits."

Masi said the Qatar yellow flag hearings were scheduled for Sunday afternoon because drivers were not at the track on Saturday evening.

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"It was obviously relatively late, them not being here, long day, etcetera. So do it this morning. Everyone's fresh.

"You've also got to think of offset time frames and everything else that you haven't taken into account in the timeframe, and when people are available and so forth, and when people get here, and curfews.

"You need to remember curfews cover this venue for example and that didn't end until 12pm so when people are due to get here that comes into the timing."

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