Controversial former F1 race director Michael Masi LEAVES FIA after being sacked over ‘mistake’ that cost Lewis Hamilton world title… as Aussie returns home to be “closer to his family”
- The FIA has confirmed that Michael Masi has left the organization completely
- He was sacked as race director after his controversial decision in Abu Dhabi
- His ‘human error’ led Max Verstappen to beat Lewis Hamilton for the 2021 title
- Masi chose to leave and will now return to Australia to be with his family
Controversial former F1 race director Michael Masi has quit 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 was returning 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 snatching the title from Hamilton with a decision later described as ‘human error’ by the heads of the FIA.
Former F1 race director Michael Masi has left the FIA entirely to return to Australia
It was Masi’s decision at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last season that saw him sacked after “human error” staged a last-lap shootout between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.
Verstappen (right) took advantage and he denied Hamilton (left) a record eighth world title win
At the start of 2022 he was sacked from the position 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 organization completely and has not changed roles as originally planned.
A statement read: “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 death of Charlie Whiting in 2019, carrying out the many duties entrusted to him 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) first said Masi (left) is ‘always important’ to the FIA
Masi was sacked as race director and is now returning to Australia to be with his family
Heading into 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 run behind a safety car.
He staged a final lap shootout in which Verstappen, on much fresher tires, emerged victorious to claim the title.
A subsequent report detailed that Masi had come under ‘tremendous pressure’ from ‘distracting’ Mercedes and Red Bull radio exchanges before ‘human error’ of only allowing those five cars to run, which was modified in the rule book for this season.
Mercedes were furious and they appeared to be hinting they might quit the sport if Masi had not been replaced as race director.
Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas have replaced Masi as race directors, with the duo avoiding any major controversy in the 2022 season so far.
Verstappen leads the world championship again this season, while Hamilton is miles away
WEC race director Eduardo Freitas (left) and former DTM race director Niels Wittich (right) have been appointed to now replace Masi as race directors after last season’s dramatic finale.
Hamilton, meanwhile, also appears to have put the 2021 drama behind him, when asked if he expects an apology in light of the report.
Hamilton told reporters: “Unfortunately we can’t go back and change the past, so I’m just looking at what I can do now.”
“I didn’t expect an apology and it’s not something I focused on.
“We know that’s how it is and it probably wasn’t going to happen.
“But at least there’s that transparency, and it’s been called human error and that’s a positive step.”
Unfortunately for the Briton, 2022 hasn’t gone as planned for Mercedes, and any chances of Hamilton vying with Verstappen for the drivers’ title again seem to recede with each passing race.
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