Michael Masi has been removed as F1 race director after FIA investigation.
FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has announced Michael Masi has been removed as Formula 1 race director as part of a necessary restructure following last year’s Abu Dhabi controversy.
Sir Lewis Hamilton was left “disillusioned” with the sport following the events which unfolded at Abu Dhabi which saw the legendary driver robbed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Max Verstappen and the rest of the Red Bull team after winning the Formula 1 World Championship
Reports and rumors then emerged that Hamilton would not commit to an F1 return this season until the whole drama surrounding the end of season race was handled. It was largely believed that the Red Bull racing team influenced the way the safety car was used in order to get a victory for Verstappen.
The FIA’s decision to remove Masi from his role is a clear admission that there were irregularities in the race.
Masi will be replaced by WEC race director Eduardo Freitas and former DTM man Niels Wittich, who was already announced as Masi’s deputy for the season.
“Michael Masi, who accomplished a very challenging job for three years as Formula 1 race director following Charlie Whiting, will be offered a new position within the FIA,” read a statement by Sulayem.
“Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas will act alternatively as Race Director, assisted by Herbie Blash as a permanent senior advisor.”
Sulayem also announced that measures will be introduced to ease the pressure on the race director.
“Firstly, to assist the race director in the decision-making process, a Virtual Race Control Room will be created. Alike the Video Assistance Referee (VAR) in football, it will be positioned in one of the FIA Offices as a backup outside the circuit,” said Sulayem.
“In real-time connection with the FIA F1 race director, it will help to apply the sporting regulations using the most modern technological tools.”
Sulayem said the mode of communicating with the race director would be different from now on.
“Direct radio communications during the race, currently broadcast live by all TVs, will be removed in order to protect the race director from any pressure and allow him to take decisions peacefully.
“It will still be possible to ask questions to the race director, according to a well-defined and non-intrusive process.”