Michael Masi Officially Fired as Formula 1 Race Director

After several embattled weeks, FIA Race Director Michael Masi has officially been fired after his controversial handling of the 2021 Formula One championship race, the sport announced Thursday. At the Abu Dhabi championship race, Masi bent safety car rules to allow the race to finish under green, which cost Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton a win he’d been building towards, and he was accused of making the decision under pressure from the winning Red Bull team.

He will be replaced by an alternating rostra of two race directors: current World Endurance Championship race director Eduardo Frietas and former German Touring Cars director Niels Wittich, who have been instructed to limit communication mid-race with the teams. Race control messages will also no longer be broadcast. To further alleviate pressure, FIA decisions will be assisted by officials off-site, including FIA President Mohammed Ben Saluyem and other organization executives, with a senior advisor explicitly for this purpose.

F1 CEO Stefano Dominecali told Autosport that the decision was made to “help to apply the sporting regulations using the most modern technological tools.” The plan was apparently approved by the FIA Monday but not announced until immediately following Ferrari’s car launch.

The new refereeing structure will be in place starting at the first test in Barcelona next week and will last the duration of the season. Doninecali said Masi was “offered a new position within the FIA,” though he didn’t specify what that was.

Owen Johnson