FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi may not remain in the role for the new season following the controversial conclusion to the 2021 world championship.who is overseeing its review of the disputed season finale, has said a change of race director is among the options under consideration in response to the row over the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Masi has been a focus of criticism over his handling of a Safety Car period in the final laps of the race. A decision to quickly bring the Safety Car appeared to contradict the regulations, and he only allowed a portion of the lapped cars to un-lap themselves, in a break with convention.
Following the restart Lewis Hamilton was immediately passed by championship rival Max Verstappen. That sealed victory in the race and championship for the Red Bull driver.
Mercedes immediately protested the outcome of the race on two counts, both of which were rejected. It considered an appeal, but backed down three days after the race, confirming Verstappen as champion.
However the FIA agreed to review the events of the race, and Bayer has given the first indication of the direction its investigation has taken in an interview for Austrian newspaper Vorarlberger Nahrichten. He indicated one option is to divide the race director’s current responsibilities between multiple roles, to ease the pressure they are under.
“The various tasks of the race director, who is also sports director, safety and course delegate, will be divided up,” said Bayer. “That was just too much.” The FIA is also looking into emulating the teams’ ‘mission control’ facilities to give remote support to the race director.
Masi took over as F1 race director at short notice when his predecessor, Charlie Whiting, passed away on the eve of the 2019 season. Bayer praised the job he had done but admitted the possibility of replacing him is being considered.
“Michael did a super job in many ways,” said Bayer, adding, “we definitely don’t want to lose him. We told him that, but also that there is a possibility that there could be a new race director. I can only make suggestions to the World Council and they will definitely include Michael.”
Bayer also emphasised that Masi’s desire to ensure the race did not finish behind the Safety Car had the backing of teams. “We also asked the teams whether their request not to finish a race under SC was still relevant, which they all answered in the affirmative.”
However the practice of allowing team principals to speak to the race director during a grand prix, as Mercedes’ Toto Wolff and Red Bull’s Christian Horner both did in Abu Dhabi, will end.
“We will abolish the ordeal of the race management and make massive changes,” said Bayer. “The team bosses will no longer be able to tune in on this channel. In future, the race director will be able to concentrate on his task and will no longer be distracted.”
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