Sympathetic to the vile abuse Michael Masi faced after Abu Dhabi 2021, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem says he’d bring the Aussie back into the fold if the FIA “needs” him.
Back in 2021, Masi was the F1 race director charged with ensuring the regulations were applied fairly – and by the book – as Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen went wheel-to-wheel for the Drivers’ Championship title.
However, when all was said and done after his controversial decision-making at the season finale, Verstappen had won the one-lap shoot-out, Hamilton was said to be considering quitting the sport, and Masi ultimately did.
Mercedes’ anger won’t stop the FIA employing Masi if needed
Facing vile abuse and death threats, the Aussie disappeared from the Formula 1 stage only to return to the paddock as a guest this season where he spoke about accusations of ruining Hamilton’s race and possibly his legacy.
There was, however, no apology forthcoming.
“They have their perspective and are entitled to their view,” he said. “I respect any view, and it’s not for me to comment on what they do or don’t think.”
The anger amongst Hamilton’s fans and also his Mercedes team lingers with Toto Wolff recently speaking of his “personal anger” over Hamilton being denied that record-breaking eighth World title.
But despite the feelings still boiling within the Mercedes camp, FIA president Ben Sulayem has stated that if the FIA “needs” Masi, he would have no qualms about bringing the Aussie back into the fold.
Declaring that it’s not on him to apologise for the mistakes made in the 2021 title decider, the FIA president says if Masi is the “right person” for the job, the FIA will use him again.
“I always apologise, but I cannot apologise for something which was done before my time,” Ben Sulayem told PA.
“OK, I will do the apology, but I will bring Michael Masi again. Do you think that is right?
“The poor guy is a person who has been attacked and abused. Michael Masi went through hell. Hell!
“And if I see there is an opportunity that the FIA needs, and Michael Masi is the right person, I will bring him.
“I even had people threatening me to kill me because I had the power to change it (the result).
“But I said to them: ‘Sorry, the World Cup of 1966, England against Germany, was that correct? Did they change it? No.’ Did they give it to Germany? Nein.”
Following Masi’s departure, the FIA went with a two-pronged race director approach although today the job belongs to just one man, Neils Wittich.