Masi replaced as race director amid FIA ‘reform’ into F1 refereeing

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem announced the changes which had been agreed upon unanimously by the F1 Commission earlier this week on Thursday, following an inquiry into the controversial conclusion to last years’ world championship. 

The investigation was launched in December after Masi failed to implement the correct rules during a late Safety Car period in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. 

Masi’s decision-making altered the outcome of last year’s world championship and helped Max Verstappen beat long-time race leader Lewis Hamilton to the drivers’ crown with a last lap overtake. 

The role of race director will be shared between Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, while Herbie Blash will act as a permanent senior advisor. 

Masi will be offered a new position within the FIA. 

Wittich and Freitas bring vast experience from their previous roles as race directors for the DTM and World Endurance Championship respectively, while Blash previously served as former F1 race director Charlie Whiting’s right hand man. 

The new race management team will be in place for next week’s opening pre-season test in Barcelona.

Along with the restructuring of race direction, the FIA has announced the creation of a new Virtual Race Control Room that will be similar to the Video Assistance Referee (VAR) in football. 

The Virtual Race Control Room will be positioned in an FIA office as a backup outside of the circuit and will help to apply the sporting regulations in real-time using “modern technological tools”. 

Radio communications during the race will no longer to broadcast live on TV in order to “protect the race director from any pressure and allow him to take decisions peacefully”. 

Finally, the unlapping procedures behind the Safety Car will be reassessed by the F1 Sporting Advisory Committee and presented to the next F1 Commission before the start of the new season. 

“I presented this complete plan to the members of the World Motor Sport Council and the Senate who gave their full support,” said Ben Sulayem. 

“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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