Michael Masi out as F1 race director after Abu Dhabi controversy

PARIS — Michael Masi will be replaced as System One’s race director pursuing the late controversy surrounding the title-determining Abu Dhabi Grand Prix previous December, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem said Thursday.

Motorsport’s governing human body arrived at its choice just after conducting a detailed evaluation of the wild ending at the period finale, in which Purple Bull driver Max Verstappen gained his first globe title right after overtaking Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton on the past lap.

The 44-year-outdated Masi is keeping with the FIA but in an undetermined part.

“A new race management group will be place in area beginning in Barcelona (upcoming week) for the examination session,” Ben Sulayem mentioned in a statement.

“Michael Masi, who accomplished a really tough task for 3 many years as Formulation 1 race director next Charlie Whiting, will be available a new posture in the FIA,” he continued. “I presented this complete system to the associates of the Planet Motor Activity Council and the Senate who gave their total assistance.”

Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas will act alternatively as race director, assisted by Herbie Blash as lasting senior advisor, Ben Sulayem mentioned.

The Abu Dhabi outcome adopted a essential selection by Masi, prompting deep confusion and seething vitriol in some quarters — with the FIA saying the sport’s graphic experienced been tarnished as a consequence.

Hamilton led comfortably until eventually a crash by Nicholas Latifi brought out the protection car with five laps remaining. Verstappen stopped less than yellow for a clean established of tires, and Masi flipped his decision and let the drivers separating Verstappen from Hamilton move the protection auto under yellow.

Verstappen restarted second powering Hamilton and, on faster new tires, zoomed earlier Hamilton in the fifth flip.

Mercedes shed each its protests in excess of how the race finished.

Hamilton was completely dejected at the way he skipped out on a file eighth F1 title to go ahead of fellow excellent Michael Schumacher.

Whilst Masi was greatly criticized, however he was also in a tough place all through the race, with both Mercedes and Red Bull capable to talk immediately with him in a second of intense pressure. This elevated questions as to regardless of whether F1 was turning out to be too significantly of a Tv set present and significantly less of a activity.

That discussion is now more than.

“Direct radio communications for the duration of the race, presently broadcast are living by all TVs, will be eliminated in get to safeguard the race director from any stress and let him to take decisions peacefully,” Ben Sulayem claimed. “It will even now be possible to check with questions to the race director, according to a nicely-described and non-intrusive system.”

The structural improvements see the creation a new soccer-design and style Virtual Race Management Room, even though unlapping treatments powering basic safety vehicles will be reassessed ahead of the first race in Bahrain on March 20.

“Like the Video Assistance Referee (VAR) in football, it will be positioned in a person of the FIA offices as a backup outdoors the circuit,” Ben Sulayem explained. “In authentic-time link with the FIA F1 race director, it will help to apply the sporting restrictions applying the most modern-day technological tools.”

Ben Sulayem hopes the 2022 period will be a far more appeased a single immediately after significant tensions between Crimson Bull and Mercedes and from groups toward officers dominated 2021. The blameless Latifi even employed bodyguards after obtaining demise threats.

“With this program, FIA opens the way for a new phase forward in Formula 1 refereeing. With no the referees, there is no activity,” Ben Sulayem reported. “Respect and help of the referees is in the essence of the FIA.”

The modifications were declared on the eve of Mercedes launching its 2022 automobile, with Hamilton established to discuss publicly for the initial time given that Abu Dhabi.

Mercedes posted a picture Thursday on Twitter of Hamilton and new teammate George Russell in their racing satisfies.