Masi removed as F1 Race Director
F1 Race Director, Michael Masi has been replaced for the upcoming 2022 season. The FIA announces.
Written by Hugh Waring, edited by Harshi Vashee
FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has announced that former DTM race director Niels Wittich and WEC race director Eduardo Freitas, will act alternatively as Race Director, assisted by former FIA deputy race director Herbie Blash as the ‘permanent senior advisor’.
The announcement comes following the controversial and decisive role that Masi played in the 2021 season finale in Abu Dhabi, last December - handing Max Verstappen his first F1 world championship.
Ben Sulayem has also confirmed a major shakeup for the 2022 season, where race control will be remotely assisting competitions in an FIA facility, likely based in Geneva. The new FIA president has also issued that radio communications between race control and teams will no longer be broadcasted - which was introduced in 2021. This follows the broadcasted discussions between teams in Saudi Arabia where fans heard negotiations between Masi and Red Bull, as well as outbursts from Wolff, in the now meme’d “no mickey no”.
This follows discussions in London on Monday, where team principles and the FIA met to discuss and approve these resolutions made by F1 Abu Dhabi Commission. Domenicali stated, “Firstly, to assist the race director in the decision-making process, a Virtual Race Control Room will be created.
“Like the Video Assistance Referee, VAR, in football, it will be positioned in one of the FIA offices as a backup outside the circuit.” Suggesting that ‘modern technological tools’ will be used to help the incoming race directors.
The F1 CEO also quoted that: “Secondly, direct radio communications during the race, currently broadcast live by all TVs, will be removed in order to protect the race director from any pressure and allow him to take decisions peacefully.”
The F1 Commission has also discussed the reassessment of unlapping procedures behind the safety car, an issue that was highly debated following the final few laps in Abu Dhabi, where only some lapped cars were allowed through.
Masi began his role as F1 race director in 2019, following the sudden death of the late Charlie Whiting. He has been criticised by the media for multiple ill judgements, key examples being the whitewash of the Belgium GP as well as Q2 drivers being allowed out on track, whilst a tractor was clearing a car in the ‘ice-like’ track in Turkey 2020.
Domenicali praised Masi “who accomplished a very challenging job for three years as F1 race director [and] will be offered a new position within the FIA.”.
It is clear that F1 and the FIA are willing to maintain the integrity of the sport. The plan opens up a new avenue for the sport to be refereed and structured, in a time where F1 has seen great growth in its audience. It is vital that these new plans have the full support of F1 drivers, teams and hopefully the fans.
We will see the new race management at next week's shakedown test in Barcelona.
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