Max Verstappen has come out fighting for Michael Masi and slammed the FIA for sacking the Australian. The now former FIA race director was relieved of his duties after the governing body's enquiry into the controversial conclusion of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Mercedes were pushing for action as they felt Masi manipulated the race result to help Verstappen snatch the 2021 world title away from Lewis Hamilton. The Silver Arrows got their wish, with Masi now replaced with two new race directors, who will work alongside a support team including a VAR style race control center.

Verstappen believes the FIA made an incorrect decision and that Masi was "thrown under the bus" by the governing body. The Red Bull Racing driver feels the Australian could do with some help, similar to the drivers, who have the backing of an entire team.

"I think it's not correct," Verstappen said during the press conference, as quoted by The Race. "Everyone always tries to do the best job but everyone can always use help. I think us drivers also, to try and improve ourselves."

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen is the first Dutchman to win the Formula One title KAMRAN JEBREILI/POOL via AFP

"But it's very unfair what happened to Michael because he's really been thrown under the bus."

One of the changes the FIA have made ahead of the 2022 season is to stop direct communications between the team and the race director during the race. Verstappen feels this hampered Masi's decision making process as he had Mercedes' Toto Wolff and Red Bull's Christian Horner shouting in his ear in Abu Dhabi.

The Dutch racer has given his backing to Masi, and believes he was a great and "capable race director." The Australian is expected to be offered another unspecified role within the FIA, with Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich – best known for officiating in the World Endurance Championship and DTM – now alternating in the race director role.

"That team members could talk to him while making decisions is very wrong because it needed to be Michael making the decisions but he had people screaming in his ear," he added. "So the people right now who did sack him allowed it in the first place, it's unacceptable."

"And now basically they just sacked him, I find it really incredible. So I feel really sorry for Michael because I think he was a very capable and good race director."

It was not just Verstappen that supported Masi, even Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso praised his contribution to the sport since taking over from the late Charlie Whiting in 2019.

Lewis Hamilton
Max Verstappen won an epic season-long battle with reigning champion Lewis Hamilton ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP