FIA 'negotiating' to hand new role to ex-F1 race director Masi

© XPB 

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has revealed that the governing body is currently in "negotiations" with ex-F1 race director Michael Masi about keeping the latter within its organization in a new role.

Masi was replaced as F1's chief steward in the wake of last year's controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where the F1 race director's questionable decisions decided the outcome of the 2021 championship.

In its detailed Abu Dhabi report that was published on Saturday, the FIA acknowledged that Masi had not managed the race's safety car process according to the rules, but it insisted the massive pressure exerted on the race director as well as certain "distractions" contributed to Masi's erroneous call, adding that the latter ultimately acted "in good faith".

Addressing in Bahrain the FIA report's conclusions, Ben Sulayem revealed that Masi was relieved of his responsibilities to "take the pressure and stress from him", adding that he is currently being considered for another official role with motorsport's institution.

"We are grateful for the three years he invested with us, and he put his time in," Ben Sulayem said.

"But now we are negotiating with him of course to stay in the FIA. He is an important figure to us. Our people are negotiating another place for him within the FIA.

"Now we want to move on, that we finished with the race in Abu Dhabi, the analysis. Now we have a new race in Bahrain, it’s the beginning of 2022."

The FIA president said that it had become clear following the events that unfolded at Yas Marina last December that F1's race direction could not be managed by a single individual.

"A director cannot be one director," Ben Sulayem said. "That’s the reason we brought some of our staff back like Herbie [Blash, advisor to the race director], for example, to support the race director.

"On top of that, we have to do rotations also, not just one. If you talk about 23 races, human fatigue is there, you’re talking about travels. This is also a solution."

From this year, F1's race control will be supported by a second virtual command center located in Geneva that will help provide insight and additional data for the stewards on site.

Ben Sulayem explained the genesis of the virtual race control idea.

"The idea came to me in January when I made a visit to some of the Formula 1 teams, and went to one of the launches," Ben Sulayem said.

"I said, ‘what’s that, it looks like a theatre!’ and they said this is actually race control, but virtual. I said, ‘why don’t we have one?’ I said ‘do we have one?’ and they said no.

"So now we invested in it, and it’s actually working since yesterday. We didn’t promise and not deliver. We are delivering.

"So they will have another race control there. They will have also officials. They will have also from the legal department, and they will support.

"The virtual race control will not be running the race. The race will be run from the country itself."

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter