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Michael Masi Dismissed As the Race Director of Formula 1

Following last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Michael Masi has been ousted as the Formula 1 race director as part of a reorganisation at the regulatory body, the FIA.

An investigation into the contentious finale to last year’s World Championship has been completed, and FIA President Mohammed ben Sulayem has announced a number of changes.

Masi’s failure to adhere to the regulations during a late safety car period had a direct bearing on the title race’s outcome.

There will now be two men alternating in the job, while race authorities will receive additional assistance.

Eduardo Freitas, who previously worked with the World Endurance Championship, and Niels Wittich, who was in charge of races for the DTM German Touring Car Championship, will be the new race directors. Herbie Blash, who was the deputy race director under former FIA F1 director Charlie Whiting, will help Freitas and Wittich.

Charlie Whiting sadly died on the eve of the 2019 Formula One season, which is when Masi took over as race director.

Ben Sulayem has revealed that Masi will be “given a new role inside the FIA.”

Direct radio interactions between the teams and the race director will also be prohibited as part of a larger revamp of race control aimed at creating a more relaxed environment.

Both the Mercedes and Red Bull teams put pressure on Masi to make choices in their favour during the title deciding race in Abu Dhabi. The fact that Masi seemed to accept the recommendations of Red Bull, to the benefit of their driver Max Verstappen over Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, sparked a significant debate after the race.

Verstappen benefited from his new tyres to pass Hamilton on worn ones and won his first world title after Masi failed to apply the regulations appropriately in two instances – over the handling of lapped vehicles and the time of the restart.

Lewis Hamilton had previously dominated the race throughout and was well on his way to a record-setting ninth title.

According to Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff, Hamilton became “disillusioned” with Formula 1 as a result of the Abu Dhabi debacle and had lost trust in the FIA.

Sir Lewis stated early in the new year that he would not commit to being involved with F1 this season until the FIA addressed the situation. 37-year-old Stevenage, UK native Hamilton is set to make his first public appearance since Abu Dhabi on Friday at the Mercedes new vehicle presentation.

The FIA’s conclusions are not only significant, but they are also an effective acknowledgement that errors were committed by Masi.