Michael Masi sacked as F1 race director as part of FIA restructuring following Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Michael Masi has been removed from his role as F1 race director as part of a restructuring of the FIA’s governing body following last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
FIA President Mohammed bin Sulayem has announced a series of changes following the investigation into the controversial end of last year’s World Championship.
Masi failed to apply the rules correctly in a late safety car period and had a direct impact on the outcome of the title race.
Two men will now alternate in the role, while additional help will be provided to the officials.
The new race directors will be Eduardo Freitas, who previously played the role in the World Endurance Championship, and Niels Wittich, who did so in the German Touring Car Championship DTM.
Masi will be “offered a new position within the FIA”, Ben Sulayem said.
Additionally, as part of a wider Race Direction restructuring aimed at providing a more serene environment, direct radio communications between the teams and the Race Director will no longer be permitted.
In Abu Dhabi, Masi came under pressure from the Mercedes and Red Bull teams to make decisions in their favour. The huge post-race controversy arose because he appeared to follow Red Bull’s suggestions, to their driver Max Verstappen’s advantage over Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
After Masi failed to apply the rules correctly in two ways – on timed car management and restart timing – Verstappen used his new tires to pass Hamilton on the old ones and claim his first world title.
Before that, Hamilton had dominated the race and was on course to claim a record eighth championship.
An FIA spokesman said the report on the failures in Abu Dhabi would be released at the season-opening race in Bahrain on March 19.
Teams will still be allowed to ask race direction questions, Ben Sulayem said, “according to well-defined procedures”.
These should be directed to a new layer of personnel in race control, to keep direct pressure on the race director.
Freitas and Wittich will be assisted by F1 veteran Herbie Blash, who was assistant racing director under former FIA F1 director Charlie Whiting.
Masi took on the role of race director when Whiting died on the eve of the 2019 F1 season.
The FIA will add a racing remote control which will work in the same way as the video assistant referee in football.
Ben Sulayem said he presented the plan to the teams at an F1 Commission meeting on Monday, although this was contradicted by insiders who said only a vague outline was given to it.
He added that he had received the “full support” of the FIA World Council and Senate.
“With this plan, the FIA is paving the way for a new breakthrough in refereeing in Formula 1. Without referees, there is no sport,” he said.
“Respecting and supporting referees is in the essence of the FIA. This is why these structural changes are crucial in a context of strong development and legitimate expectations of drivers, teams, manufacturers, organizers and many more. sure of the fans.
“These changes will allow us to start the 2022 Formula 1 season in the best conditions, and our sport will be even more loved and respected.”