Future of race director Masi to be decided by F1 Commission in London

Future of race director Michael Masi to be decided on Monday by the F1 Commission in London after his  contentious call allowed Max Verstappen to win the title ahead of Lewis Hamilton

  • Future of F1 race director Michael Masi will be thrashed out on Monday 
  • Fate of the Australian in doubt following the contentious end to last season
  • His decision allowed Max Verstappen to win the title ahead of Lewis Hamilton

The future of Formula One’s controversial race director Michael Masi will, Sportsmail understands, today be thrashed out upon the central question of: who rules the sport?

The Formula One Commission meets in London on Monday afternoon, with the fate of the Australian still to be determined following the contentious end to last season in Abu Dhabi, where his decision to withdraw the safety car resulted in Max Verstappen winning the title ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

Masi’s call, made on the hoof, disadvantaged Hamilton, who had not taken the opportunity to move on to new tyres. Verstappen, on fresh rubber, pounced on the final-lap shootout to win his first world championship to deny Hamilton the eighth title of his remarkable career. 

The fate of Michael Masi is in doubt following the contentious end to last season in Abu Dhabi

New head of Formula One, Mohammed ben Sulayem, has addressed concerns from Mercedes

Hamilton, who kept up a long social media silence in a sense of grievance at the imbroglio, has since being confirmed as a participant in his team’s launch this Friday. Mercedes have been assured by the FIA’s recently elected president Mohammed ben Sulayem that improved procedures will be in place for the opening round of the 2022 season in Bahrain on March 20.

While Masi’s future is doubt, he has enjoyed growing support from teams other than Mercedes, if not universally so, and key drivers such as Sebastian Vettel, Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo have spoken up in his cause.

Sportsmail understands there is a big wrangle taking place between Mercedes in one corner and, among others, Verstappen’s Red Bull team, and the FIA, which is trying to buttress its position as Formula One’s arbiters.

Monday’s meeting of the F1 Commission – comprising the teams, the FIA and the commercial rights owners Formula One – is likely to be heated.

One insider said: ‘Would the people running football throw out the baby with the bath water over one referee making a doubtful decision?’ 

It can be revealed that Ben Sulayem met F1’s chief executive Stefano Domenicali over dinner for important talks on the topic, among other things, last week. Domenicali, it seems, feels Masi should be axed for the greater reputation of the sport (despite there being no implication that Masi was biased, even if his decision was questionable). Ben Sulayem seems less certain of the need to fire Masi. 


Hamilton (left) looked destined to win his eighth F1 Championship title in the final race until Max Verstappen (right) overtook him on the final lap following a series of contentious rulings

The seven-time world champion took an extended period of silence across his social media

To jettison Masi, 44, would be an admission that the FIA’s 2021 world championship result was a mistake. Ben Sulayem has instead instigated other reforms that he believes address the issue. 

A new race control structure that will be outlined on Monday, including splitting Masi’s over-onerous roles of inspecting tracks as well as directing 23 or so races. Sources indicate that Ben Sulayem, an Emirati, is inclined to feel that these revisions suffice, as an active modernising agenda without sacrificing his organisation’s top official.

Another name in the frame for some role in a reformed FIA structure, possibly as Masi’s replacement, is Eduardo Freitas, the Portuguese race director of the World Endurance Championship.

As for Masi, he has returned from his native Australia via the FIA buildings in Geneva to continue his work in London, for now at least. 

F1’s chief executive Stefano Domenicali (middle) feels Masi must be axed for sport’s reputation

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