FIA president suggests he could bring Masi back

Masi was the F1 race director who oversaw the controversial end to the 2021 world championship at that year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton was denied a record eighth world title. 

The Australian’s incorrect application of the Safety Car rules forced a last-lap restart that enabled Max Verstappen to overtake Hamilton and win both the race and his maiden drivers’ crown.

Following an FIA inquiry that found “human error” to blame, Masi was sacked for his botched handling of the late Safety Car period.

But Ben Sulayem, who came into office following the conclusion of the 2021 season, has opened the door for Masi to return to a role within F1’s governing body in the future. 

“I always apologise, but I cannot apologise for something which was done before my time,” Ben Sulayem told PA Sport. “OK, I will do the apology, but I will bring Michael Masi again. Do you think that is right?

“The poor guy is a person who has been attacked and abused. Michael Masi went through hell. Hell! And if I see there is an opportunity that the FIA needs, and Michael Masi is the right person, I will bring him.”

The 62-year-old Emirati, who did not mention Hamilton directly in his response, compared the Mercedes driver’s contentious 2021 title defeat to England’s victory against Germany in the 1966 World Cup final, citing Geoff Hurst’s famous and controversial second goal. 

“I even had people threatening to kill me because I had the power to change it [the result],” Ben Sulayem added. 

“But I said to them: ‘Sorry, the World Cup of 1966, England against Germany, was that correct? Did they change it? No.’ Did they give it to Germany? Nein.”

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