Michael Masi news: Former F1 race director quits FIA over 2022 Abu Dhabi GP controversy

Masi was given a new position within the company, according to FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem, who made the announcement in February.

Michael Masi in a file photo. (Image: Twitter)

Former Formula One race director Michael Masi left the FIA on Tuesday over the controversy at last season’s finale. The Australian’s management of the contentious season-ending race in Abu Dhabi last year, which gave Max Verstappen the opportunity to defeat Hamilton in a last-lap shootout, led to his dismissal as the race director for Formula One in February. Masi was given a new position within the company, according to FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem, who made the announcement in February. However, his resignation from the governing body was announced on Tuesday, precisely seven months after the title decider that lost him his job.

FIA statement

“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 One 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,” read an FIA statement.

Masi was relieved of his duties as race director for breaking the rules by allowing several drivers between Verstappen and Hamilton to unlap themselves after a lengthy safety car period in Abu Dhabi. On the penultimate lap, Verstappen beat Hamilton, who was running on worn tyres, to win the championship. Masi, according to the FIA, behaved in good faith and to the best of his knowledge, but he made a mistake nonetheless. In a purported exchange for Masi’s removal from the FIA, which the Silver Arrows vehemently deny, Hamilton’s Mercedes team filed and then withdrew their appeal against the decision.

Before being fired, Masi had the support of several drivers, including four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel and British driver Lando Norris. However, after being stood down, Verstappen claimed that the FIA had “thrown Masi under the bus.” Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas took Masi’s position. The selections, however, have not received a unanimous thumbs-up.

Leclerc wins in Spielberg

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc held off Max Verstappen of Red Bull to win the Austrian Grand Prix, and Lewis Hamilton completed the podium after Carlos Sainz retired. Verstappen, the champion and winner of the Sprint, pitted on Lap 12, giving the lead to Leclerc. Leclerc pitted significantly later, on Lap 27, and caught up to the leaders on Lap 37 to retake the lead. Verstappen was being challenged for P2 by Sainz, so the Dutchman pitted once more on lap 37.

On lap 51, Leclerc made his second pit stop. On lap 53, he reclaimed the lead. The Spaniard abruptly slowed down as Sainz closed in on Verstappen, the fire at the back of his Ferrari signalling the end of his race. Hamilton, who had fought his way up from P8 to P4, was now in the final podium position.

Sportslumo Desk

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