Michael Masi sacked by FIA with two new race directors appointed | F1 | Sports

The FIA ​​has sacked Michael Masi as Formula One race director in the aftermath of the controversy in last season’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has named the Australian’s successors in a major shake-up ahead of the 2022 campaign.

Numerous F1 figures and fans, including a furious Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, called for Masi to be relieved of his duties for the way he handled the 2021 finale at Yas Marina Circuit.

After failing to follow regulations during a late safety car period, Verstappen, on fresh tires, took advantage in one final lap of racing and overtook a dominant Hamilton to secure his maiden crown.

The shocking decision prompted mass speculation that the Brit could walk away from the sport altogether, especially amid a long social media silence in the following weeks.

But his decision to return to the grid this year could have been influenced by the FIA’s decision to remove Masi as race director.

As part of a statement on Thursday, Ben Sulayem confirmed Masi has been replaced as race director by Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, who will alternate in the role, with Herbie Blash to offer support as senior adviser.

It read: “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.”

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Ben Sulayem hopes the changes will act as a ‘new step forward’ in F1 officiating after the 2021 season was marred by Masi’s late call costing Lewis Hamilton a record-breaking eighth world title.

He continued: “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.”

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Masi’s new role in the FIA ​​remains to be seen, but two new names will be directing the 23 races throughout the new season in a race control revamp.

Niels Wittich, former DTM race director, was already announced as Masi’s deputy for the 2022 F1 season.

The 49-year-old will now alternate in the role with Eduardo Freitas, who has spent over 20 years as an FIA race director.

He most recently referred at Le Mans 24 Hours, FIA WEC, ELMS and Asian LMS.

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