Michael Masi has spoken via a statement for the first time since the controversial 2021 Abu Dhabi finale – and made no mention of that other than to say the last few months have been “overwhelming”.
Masi earned the ire of many Formula 1 fans last season when he became the headline in the sport’s greatest title fight in decades.
As Lewis Hamilton led Max Verstappen in the winner-takes-all race at Yas Marina, Masi made the controversial call when a late Safety Car came out to allow only the cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to unlap themselves.
With just one lap remaining, the Safety Car entered the pits and Verstappen, with fresher tyres, easily overtook Hamilton to win the race and the World title.
It was a decision that cost Masi his job as Formula 1’s race director and after a few months of staying on with the FIA, motorsport’s governing body announced on Tuesday he had left the federation to return to Australia.
🚨 BREAKING 🚨
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) July 12, 2022
Masi, in his first public comments since last December, has thanked the FIA and all those who worked with him over the years.
He made no mention of Abu Dhabi other than to say the last few months have been “overwhelming”.
He told speedcafe.com: “It has been a pleasure and honour representing the FIA as the single-seater sporting director and FIA Formula 1 race director and safety delegate since Charlie [Whiting’s] unexpected and tragic passing in Melbourne 2019.
“Having worked on various projects around the world with the Federation and its member clubs for over a decade prior to my appointment, I have now decided to leave the organisation and relocate back to Australia to be closer to my family and friends.
“I am proud to have worked in partnership for many years with the various FIA member clubs, Formula 1 Group, the competitors, promoters and circuit operators and my colleagues and team internally at the FIA.
“I will always treasure these lifelong relationships and friendships I have developed throughout my journey to date.
“In particular, I am eternally grateful to Herbie Blash and the late Charlie Whiting for identifying me as a future successor in 2018, a role I was looking forward to shadowing and learning from Charlie for many years prior to his shock passing.
“I also pass on my sincere appreciation for the support and guidance during my tenure of the former FIA president Jean Todt, Stefano Domenicali and my dedicated FIA Single Seater team.
“I extend my appreciation to the tens of thousands of dedicated volunteers and officials that allow motorsport to happen each and every day around the world, as the safety of the competitors and officials has always remained my highest priority.
“Thank you to the FIA president, Mohammed Ben Sulayem and his presidential team for their personal support since their appointment and I wish them the best for the future.
“The personal support of my family, friends and colleagues globally during this journey and particularly in the last few months can only be described as overwhelming and something I will forever cherish.”