Michael Masi will no longer serve as race director for Formula 1 following a review of events at the 2021 title deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Masi’s position had come under fire after a series of decisions under a late safety car which led to Max Verstappen overtaking on Sir Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the race and taking the drivers’ championship in controversial circumstances.
In a statement announcing the results of the review, the FIA said that the Australian will be offered a new position within the motorsports governing body after three years in the role.
As part of changes stemming from the review, new FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem said a new Virtual Race Control Room will be created, similar to the use of VAR in football, which will be hosted in FIA offices and serve as a backup outside the circuit to help apply the regulations.
Radio messages between the teams and race director, which had been broadcast on TV, wil bel removed to “protect the race director from any pressure and allow him to take decisions peacefully.”
Teams will still be able to communicate with the race director however, in line with a “well-defined and non-intrusive process”.
Finally, the F1 Sporting Advisory Committee will conduct an assessment of unlapping procedures behind the safety car, to be presented to the next F1 Commission by the start of the season.
New F1 Race Directors
Replacing Masi will be Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, who will act alternatively as race directors, assisted by permanent senior advisor Herbie Blash.
Sulayem said the changes opened the way for a new step forward in the refereeing of Formula 1.
“Without the referees, there is no sport. Respect and support of the referees is in the essence of the FIA,” Sulayem said.
“That is why these structural changes are crucial in a context of strong development and the legitimate expectations of drivers, teams, manufacturers, organizers, and of course, the fans.
“I warmly thank all those who contributed to this reform. These changes will enable us to start the 2022 Formula 1 season in the best conditions, and our sport will be even more loved and respected.”