Ex-FIA race director Michael Masi secures new motorsport role for 2023

Thomas Maher
FIA race director Michael Masi. Abu Dhabi December 2021.

FIA race director Michael Masi is interviewed in the paddock. Abu Dhabi December 2021.

Former FIA Race Director Michael Masi has secured a new appointment for the upcoming 2023 motorsport season.

Having left the FIA earlier this year, Michael Masi’s return to his native country has meant the former FIA Race Director has focussed on securing roles on the motorsport scene in Australia.

Having been the catalyst behind the controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix season finale in 2021, Masi was not retained in his position of FIA Race Director for 2022 as FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem introduced sweeping changes for this season.

Masi left the FIA in July to return to Australia, where he took up a new position as the chairman of the Supercars Commission – the commission oversees the sporting and technical rules in the illustrious series, as well as taking a role as a member of the South Australia Motorsport Board.

Michael Masi confirms new role for 2023

For 2023, Masi will also join the board of Karting Australia – one of two new directors alongside commercial lawyer Melissa Holzberger.

Masi will become a director of the board on January 1st, 2023.

Karting Australia welcomed the arrival of Masi, highlighting his experience as a motorsport administrator dating back to his days as a sporting manager for the same organisation, before becoming Deputy Race Director in Supercars before departing for Europe and studying under the late Charlie Whiting to his eventual role of F1 Race Director for the FIA.

“Michael’s experience in the world of motorsport in Australia, and on a world level, is exceptional, and we’re delighted that he has decided to accept the invitation to join the Board. Melissa is well versed in the way in which Karting Australia operates and brings great business expertise and adds further experience to our already well-credentialled Board of Directors,” said Karting Australia Chairman Kevin Davis.

“To have two more highly credentialled people like Michael and Melissa join our Board adds further strength, stability, and experience for Karting Australia.”

Why did Michael Masi leave his F1 Race Director position?

Masi’s position became untenable following the events of the season finale in 2021, after a late Safety Car intervention changed the outcome of the race and the title fight.

After a crash for Williams’ Nicholas Latifi, Masi deployed the Safety Car – which gave second-placed Max Verstappen the opportunity to dive into the pits and take on fresh tyres.

Resuming in the queue behind title rival Lewis Hamilton, Verstappen still faced an uphill task as several lapped cars remained between him and Hamilton with the laps of opportunity ticking away.

However, Masi would clear these lapped cars (and only these lapped cars) out of the way and resume the race with a single lap to go – seemingly in contravention of the Sporting Regulations’ wording.

Verstappen snatched the lead away from Hamilton on the final lap and, with it, the title – uproar immediately followed as Mercedes lodged protests against the outcome, while the FIA began extensive investigations into how the decision-making process was followed by Masi and Race Control.

While Masi was cleared of any wrongdoing, thanks to a vaguely-worded regulation which gave the Race Director complete control over the Safety Car procedure, it was clear his position as the authority overseeing Grands Prix had become untenable – President Ben Sulayem and Deputy President Robert Reid replaced Masi with Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas on a rotational basis for 2022.

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