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Steiner has ‘full confidence’ in FIA to resolve Abu Dhabi F1 fallout

Haas team principal Gunther Steiner has “full confidence” in the FIA to resolve the fallout from the controversial Formula 1 season finale, saying it is “working diligently” to make improvements.

The Safety Car and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

The Safety Car and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

The FIA has been undertaking a full investigation into the decisions taken by race director Michael Masi and race control in the closing stages of December’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which ended in a last-lap pass by Max Verstappen on Lewis Hamilton to clinch the title.

Masi failed to enforce at least two articles of the sporting regulations with the restart, leading to questions about his future and a potential restructuring of the FIA’s F1 team moving forward.

Newly-elected FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has met with teams to discuss what happened in Abu Dhabi and potential resolutions as part of the investigation, and discussions are set to continue in the coming weeks before any changes are finalised on the eve of the new season.

PLUS: What the FIA must do to restore F1’s credibility

Speaking on Friday at his team's livery launch, Haas team boss Steiner was reluctant to get into details about talks with the FIA over Masi’s future and a possible restructuring of the FIA’s F1 operations, but expressed confidence in its investigation.

“I didn’t give a lot of recommendations to President Mohammed,” Steiner said.

“We talked about it, and I think there are private talks, and I don’t want to go there.

“I know they are diligently working on it, to make it - I wouldn’t say better, which is the wrong word - to make it mainly better for whoever is race director.

“It’s a very difficult job, and I’m not here to protect Michael or anything. It is very difficult. I think the sport has grown so much, and some of the things have stayed behind.

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

“I’m sure they will come up with some ideas when we are presented them, and then we’ll see what they are doing. I didn’t give them any recommendation what to do, a specific one.

“We talked about the issues a little bit, and we all know them. I think the FIA is working diligently that we move in to better future.”

FIA secretary general for sport Peter Bayer is playing a key role in the investigation, and admitted in an interview at the end of last month that Masi could be replaced.

The Australian has served as F1’s race director since the sudden passing of Charlie Whiting days before the start of the 2019 season.

Asked if he thought Masi was the right man for the job moving forward, Steiner replied: “Again, I've got enough on my plate with my company to be honest.

“I wouldn't like to go into the FIA to tell them what they should be doing, because I know that they are doing things, but I do know not the details, contracts and stuff like this.

“I'm not trying to avoid the question, I honestly don't know their structure in there completely. And we all know Michael Masi as the race director, but I don't know what is underlying and how to make it better.

“As I said I'm pretty busy with with what I'm doing for Haas F1, so I'm not getting involved. I've got the full confidence in the FIA, that they will fix it because everybody speaks about it.

“You guys ask questions, but these will be questions more for the FIA than for me."

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