Masi out as race director as FIA announce new format

The FIA announced today that Michael Masi would no longer fill the role as Race Director but would be offered a new role at the FIA. Also, the race director role will be split between Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas with veteran Herbie Blash returning to assist.

The bigger news could be the use of a VAR system similar to American football with remote referring or stewarding by a team in real-time contact with race directors. Here is the statement.

FIA Statement:

During the F1 Commission Meeting in London, I presented part of my plan for a new step forward in Formula 1 refereeing.

Drawing conclusions from the detailed analysis of the events of the last F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and from the 2021 season, I proposed an in-depth reform of the organization of refereeing and race direction. It was unanimously supported by F1 CEO and teams principals.

Here is my plan for these structural changes:

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. In real-time connection with the FIA F1 race director, it will help to apply the sporting regulations using the most modern technological tools.

Secondly, 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.

Thirdly, unlapping procedures behind safety car will be reassessed by the F1 Sporting Advisory Committee and presented to the next F1 Commission prior to the start of the season.

And finally, I would like to inform you that a new race management team will be put in place starting in Barcelona for the test session.

Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas will act alternatively as Race Director, assisted by Herbie Blash as permanent senior advisor.

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.

I presented this complete plan to the members of the World Motor Sport Council and the Senate who gave their full support.

With this plan, FIA opens the way for a new step forward in Formula 1 refereeing. Without the referees, there is no sport. Respect and support of the referees is in the essence of the FIA. 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.

Thank you for your attention.

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Neil

I can’t say that it really surprises me tbh. Though I will say, that the poor guy took on a herculean job, with a herculean pair of shoes to fill when Charlie passed. I do though find it odd that they now seem to be moving back to the sort of layout that was there before he took over the role and are providing his replacements with a sort of support network to assist in doing the same job. I wonder whether Masi would have had the constant badgering from the teams in the last couple of seasons if this… Read more »

Trever

Masi deserved better than this–the other changes can be read as “he was set up for failure with no options or resources.” But it’s hard to come up with something wrong about bringing in Freitas; the others aren’t familiar to me but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully this is good in the long run.

Neil

Herbie Blash was Deputy Race Director to Charlie Whiting, he stepped down from the role when Charlie died. This guy has the chops to do the job the way that Charlie had it set up.

Neil

With the lack of support that they gave Masi, they almost turned the job into a poisoned chalice

BigBroF1

Well… now the children are running the house. A very bad decision by the new FIA director.

Nigel

I feel terrible for Max. By sacking Masi, they have basically said he didn’t REALLY win the Championship. You can give me all the arguments: ‘It’s a long season, etc etc”, but we all know that without Masi changing the rules, Lewis wins it. They should have kept Masi for a year.

Peter

for me it was not about the champioship, but about the race. Even if this had happened at, say, spa, it was a colossal mistake on his part.

OldskoolNige

The thing that drives me nuts about this whole situation is that Masi did exactly what all the team principles had been saying they wanted. He came up with a way of the race not finishing under yellow. You can find quotes from all of the principles, including Toto saying that they don’t want to finish a race under yellow. Masi did it, and because of the outcome half the world went nuts.

Fabio

Masi basically ended up in a ‘Kobayashi Maru’ situation, a no-win scenario.
The FIA was never going to blame themselves, so they found a scapegoat.

Fabio

No, not in the slightest. You can’t just look at one event (AD), look back at the British GP, look back at Saudi Arabia etc.
I’ll add that I’m neither a Lewis or Max fan.

Neil

If Merc had carried their protest to court, the most likely outcome, other than being told to stop complaining, would have been to void the result of the last race. Which would have still given the title to Max. At the end of the day, they accumulate points over the course of a season (kind of how Lewis won his first title), Max was leading going into the last race by means of more 1st place finishes. So effectively the result of a highly contentious decision (whichever side of the fence you sit on) could be deemed irrelevant. It won’t… Read more »

Xean Drury

It happened on the last lap (basically) of the last race. If it was any other race and any other lap, it would have been chalked up to any other myriad of silly calls that happen from time to time in any sport. So no. It was a call that can obviously be questioned, but show me a season without a questionable call. ~X8

Paul Kiefer

Whether or not Hamilton would have been the champion had things been done correctly is not really the issue. The issue is that things were not done correctly, and it had a negative impact on the sport. In another time, things may have turned out differently, but the simple truth of the matter is that he was not the right person for the job.