Former F1 race director Michael Masi leaves F1

Former F1 race director Michael Masi leaves FIA

July 13, 2022

Former Formula One race director Michael Masi has left the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). The decision comes following the FIA’s decision to sack Masi in February 2022, ahead of the 2022 season, after a controversial season finale in 2021, which Masi overlooked.

The FIA released a statement, which read:

The FIA confirms that Michael Masi has decided to leave the FIA and relocate to Australia to be closer to his family and take on new challenges. He oversaw a three-year period as FIA Formula 1 Race Director and Safety Delegate following the sudden passing of Charlie Whiting in 2019, carrying out the numerous functions he was tasked with in a professional and dedicated manner. The FIA thanks him for his commitment and wishes him the best for the future.

Masi’s handling of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was a key talking point last season as he broke the rules during the race following a late Safety Car and allowed only a select few drivers, who were in between race leader Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, to unlap themselves. The decision nullified Hamilton’s lead, and what looked like a Hamilton win and a record eighth World Championship title was taken away as Verstappen on fresher tyres was put right behind the Brit and passed him in the very last lap of the race to take his first Drivers’ title. 

There was an outpour of criticism directed towards Masi following the race. The FIA, while insisting that he acted in “good faith and to the best of his knowledge”, also acknowledged that he made a human error. Mercedes, who lost out on an eighth successive world title, had lodged a complaint over the result which was later dropped following an agreement that said Masi would be removed from his role as race director. 

Before the start of the 2022 season, Masi was dropped from his role as race director but received support from various drivers, including four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel, Lando Norris and even Max Verstappen. 

Masi was replaced by Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich, but both have since received criticism from the drivers. The directors were criticised for their handling of the rain-affected Monaco Grand Prix, while most recently, Fernando Alonso raised questions about Wittich’s credentials and whether he was even fit to take up the role. There was also a heated discussion between the drivers and the FIA at the Austrian Grand Prix, which saw Sebastian Vettel receive a US$25,000 fine after walking out of a drivers’ briefing while many other drivers were reported to be unhappy with the FIA’s handling of various aspects. 

Masi was appointed as race director in 2019, following the untimely death of the then-race director Charlie Whiting, before the season-opener in Australia. 

Aditya Chaudhuri

Hailing from the City of Joy, the things that bring me joy are cricket, a good non-tilt CS:GO session, F1 and movies.

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