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Michael Masi moved aside in F1 reshuffle

February 17, 2022

The man most people seem to blame for the absolute debacle that marred the end of the 2021 Formula 1 season – Michael Masi – has been ousted from his role as Formula 1 race director in a restructuring that amounts to as much an acknowledgement of a mistake as you’re ever likely to hear from the FIA.

Masi – the focus of intense pressure from much of the F1 community since the 2021 title decider in Abu Dhabi in December, when Lewis Hamilton was controversially denied a record breaking 8th title – will be moved into an as of yet undetermined role within the FIA.

Masi will be replaced by Niels Vitek – current race director for DTM, and Eduardo Freitas – RD of the Le Mans 24 hours, who will assume the role on an alternating basis from the beginning of the 2022 Formula 1 season.

They will be supported by long-time F1 stalwart and associate of Sir Bernard of Ecclestone Herbie Blash, former Deputy Race Director to Charlie Whiting.

Other changes to the stewarding (or ‘refereeing’ as FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem oddly referred to it in his announcement) include a remote stewarding room that will assist with stewarding decisions, and a ‘VAR style’ system of replaying and reviewing incidents (not a million miles away from what they do right now if you ask me).

In another change, the direct comms from the pit wall to the race director will not be allowed to be broadcast to TV – presumably because it made Michael Masi look like a complete amateur time and again in 2021.

The FIA will hope that these changes draw a line under the deeply damaging events of 2021, where a global sport descended into farce, with claims of race/championship fixing and scripted endings that continue to this day.

Sadly for F1, the damage done by the inconsistent (and that is an incredibly generous way of describing it!) stewarding towards the end of 2021 is likely to live long in the memory of many Formula 1 fans, many of whom have vowed not to return until its proven itself to be a sport once more.

Time will tell whether the FIA do actually want reform or whether this is just a lame effort to satiate the dissenting voices and focus everyone’s attention back on the 2022 season.


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