Michael Masi's tenure as F1 race director has come to an abrupt end, as per the FIA. The Australian was in the eye of a storm after playing a huge role in the controversial end to the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem confirmed that Masi's removal from the role of race director came as a direct result of the structural shake-up that happened in light of the 2021 F1 season finale.
A tweet from F1 journalist Chris Medland stated that, in addition to Masi's removal, the changes include a remote race control that will be set up to support the race director. Moreover, direct radio communication lines between the race director and teams will be removed.
With Michael Masi gone, who takes over as the new F1 race director?
Michael Masi will be replaced by former DTM man Niels Wittich and WEC race director Eduardo Freitas. Earlier, Wittich was announced as Masi’s deputy for the 2022 season.
The duo of Freitas and Wittich will alternate as race directors whilst having the support of Charlie Whiting’s deputy Herbie Blash. Blash returns to F1 for the first time since 2016 as a permanent senior advisor after a stint with Yamaha in Superbike racing.
Here's what Ben Sulayem had to say about Masi's removal:
“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 F1 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.”
The remote race control set up mentioned earlier is expected to be run from an FIA facility in Geneva and operated along the lines of the the Virtual Assistant Referees (VAR) in football. This was confirmed by F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, although it remains to be seen how this will be implemented in the sport.
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