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Former F1 Race Director Michael Masi Has Left FIA, The Governing Body Confirms

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Masi was removed as F1 race director ahead of the 2022 season after a hugely controversial end to last year’s title decider in Abu Dhabi. The FIA, F1’s governing body, eventually found that “human error” was to blame for the incorrect application of the Safety Car period that led to Max Verstappen beating Lewis Hamilton.

 

 

He was replaced by rotating race directors Eduardo Freitas and Niells Wittich for 2022 and the FIA said he would be offered a new rule within the FIA. But, five months later, they have now confirmed that Masi “has decided to leave the FIA and relocate to Australia to be closer to his family and take on new challenges.” “He oversaw a three-year period as FIA Formula 1 Race Director and Safety Delegate following the sudden passing of Charlie Whiting in 2019,” added a statement on Tuesday.

 

 

“Carrying out the numerous functions he was tasked with in a professional and dedicated manner. “The FIA thanks him for his commitment and wishes him the best for the future.” Masi’s decisions had been questioned even before last December 2021 Abu Dhabi GP finale appeared to be the final steward, with his decisions having opened the door for Verstappen to pass Hamilton on the final lap.

 

 

In February this year, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem announced a number of structural changes as part of a ‘step forward for Formula 1 refereeing’. In the final stages of the Abu Dhabi GP on December 12, Masi handled the late Safety Car period in a way not prescribed by the F1 rules – and the decision had a huge impact on the championship.

 

 

The Australian ordered only the lapped cars between Hamilton and second-placed Verstappen through under the Safety Car, providing the Dutchman, on fresh tyres, a shot at passing Hamilton – who was on old rubber – on the very final lap. Verstappen duly passed Hamilton for the race and championship victory.

 

 

“It’s called motor racing, Toto,” Masi told a furious Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff after the race. While Masi’s actions were justified by the FIA stewards following a Mercedes team appeal, F1’s governing body lodged a full review into the process and admitted F1’s image was being tarnished. During the investigative stage, the FIA spoke to key representatives, including all the drivers, before the F1 Commission meeting, where Masi’s fate was sealed with a refereeing restructure.

 

 

A month later ahead of the Bahrain GP, a report into Abu Dhabi was released, confirming that “human error” was a factor in the controversy. They also said that Masi acted in “good faith” and the results from the race and championship are “valid”.

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