Controversial former F1 race director Michael Masi QUITS the FIA after being removed from top role following ‘error’ which cost Lewis Hamilton the world title… as Australian moves home to be ‘closer to his family’
- The FIA have confirmed that Michael Masi has left the organisation entirely
- He was sacked as race director after his controversial decision in Abu Dhabi
- His ‘human error’ led to Max Verstappen beating Lewis Hamilton to the 2021 title
- Masi has opted to leave and will now move back to Australia to be with his family
Controversial former F1 race director Michael Masi has walked away from the FIA, exactly seven months after his ‘human error’ in Abu Dhabi cost Lewis Hamilton the 2021 title.
The FIA confirmed the news in a statement on Tuesday, revealing that Masi is moving back to Australia to be ‘closer to his family’.
Masi was the race director for the 2021 F1 season, but he caused huge controversy in the season-ending showdown in Abu Dhabi, essentially wrestling the title away from Hamilton with a decision later described as ‘human error’ by FIA chiefs.
Former F1 race director Michael Masi has left the FIA entirely to move back to Australia
It was Masi’s decision making at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last season which saw him sacked after ‘human error’ set up a last lap shootout between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton
Verstappen (right) benefitted and he denied Hamilton (left) a record eighth world title win
At the start of 2022, he was sacked from that role but remained at the FIA, with new president Mohammed Ben Sulayem insisting he is ‘still an important figure’ within the company.
Four months later, it has now been confirmed that he has left the organisation entirely, and not moved into a different role as was initially expected.
A statement reads: ‘The FIA confirms that Michael Masi has decided to leave the FIA and relocate to Australia to be closer to his family and take on new challenges.
‘He oversaw a three-year period as FIA Formula 1 Race Director and Safety Delegate following the sudden passing of Charlie Whiting in 2019, carrying out the numerous functions he was tasked with in a professional and dedicated manner.
‘The FIA thanks him for his commitment and wishes him the best for the future.’
President Mohammed Ben Sulayem (right) initially said Masi (left) is ‘still important’ to the FIA
Masi was sacked as race director and is now moving back to Australia to be with his family
Heading towards the final laps of the final race in Abu Dhabi last December, Masi made the decision to allow the five cars separating race leader Lewis Hamilton and Verstappen to unlap themselves behind a safety car.
It set up a final lap shootout which Verstappen, on much fresher tyres, came out on top in to win the title.
An ensuing report detailed that Masi came under ‘immense pressure’ from ‘distracting’ radio exchanges from Mercedes and Red Bull before the ‘human error’ of allowing only those five cars the ability to unlap themselves, something which has been changed in the rulebook for this season.
Mercedes were left furious and they appeared to imply they may walk out on the sport had Masi not been replaced as race director.
Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas replaced Masi in the role as race directors, with the pair so far avoiding any major controversy in the 2022 season.
Verstappen is leading the world championship again this season, while Hamilton is miles off
WEC race director Eduardo Freitas (left) and ex-DTM race director Niels Wittich (right) were appointed to replace now Masi as race directors following last season’s dramatic finale
Hamilton, meanwhile, also appears to have put the drama of 2021 behind him, when asked whether he was expecting an apology in light of the report.
Hamilton told reporters: ‘We cannot go back, unfortunately, and change the past so I just look at what I can do now.
‘I wasn’t expecting an apology and it’s not something I’ve focused on.
‘We know that’s the way it is and that was probably not going to happen.
‘But at least there is that transparency, and it’s been called a human error and that’s a positive step.’
Unfortunately for the Brit, 2022 has not gone quite as expected for Mercedes, and any chances of Hamilton vying with Verstappen once again for the drivers’ title appears to be slipping away with each passing race.
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