FIA to ‘announce today’ Masi will be replaced – report

Jon Wilde
F1 race director Michael Masi looks left. United States, October 2021.

Formula 1 race director Michael Masi takes a glance to the left. United States, October 2021.

An FIA announcement on Michael Masi’s future is imminent, it has been reported, with the Formula 1 race director set to be replaced.

Masi has found himself the central figure in the fall-out from the highly controversial end to last season, when Max Verstappen snatched the World Championship from Lewis Hamilton’s grasp in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The furore has focused on the decisions Masi made in the closing laps of the race, relating to a Safety Car period following Nicholas Latifi’s crash.

The Australian appeared to override the rules in setting up what was effectively a one-lap shootout for the race win and the title, which Verstappen went on to win comfortably as he had stopped for fresh tyres under the Safety Car.

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen start final lap. FIA F1 Abu Dhabi December 2021
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and the Red Bull of Max Verstappen start the final lap of the 2021 season. Abu Dhabi December 2021

In carrying out a thorough investigation since those mid-December events, the FIA presented their initial findings to Formula 1 officials and team bosses on Monday, saying their conclusions would be announced publicly “in the coming days”.

Three days on, Gazzetta dello Sport say the announcement is due any time – and that Masi will make way as race director for Eduardo Freitas, who would switch from the equivalent role in the World Endurance Championship.

Gazzetta’s report says: “In all probability, today will be the day of judgement, the day in which the FIA will announce the new structure of the F1 race direction that will no longer see (at least in that role) Michael Masi.

“The new president, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, intends the race director’s duties to be unpacked, involving several different figures, with those in the control room being helped by a panel at FIA headquarters in Geneva.”

The report adds that at Monday’s F1 Commission meeting, the FIA “left the teams baffled” because the Masi issue “was only touched upon” – but that was because the 44-year-old from Sydney was in attendance himself.

Gazzetta say the FIA “had promised by the end of the week they would have announced news” and that “to delay the decision would be to lose face”.

 

Unless the matter drags into the weekend, that leaves the latter part of Thursday – after Ferrari’s launch of the F1-75, no doubt – and Friday afternoon.

Friday morning, especially the earlier part, is surely improbable because it would clash with the 9am GMT launch of the new Mercedes – and an announcement to steal their thunder would be viewed as the final insult by Toto Wolff’s team, who were apoplectic with rage about what unfolded in Abu Dhabi.

 

Has the FIA hinted that Masi is out?

Has the FIA hinted that Michael Masi has already left his race director role?