FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has hinted that disgraced former F1 race director Michael Masi could return in some capacity to the sport’s governing body at some point in the future.
Masi’s controversial decision-making during the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which ultimately cost Lewis Hamilton his record-breaking eighth world championship title, led to the Australian’s dismissal from the role of race director.
Masi's error in judgment during the dramatic Abu Dhabi race unfolded when he misinterpreted the safety car regulations, allowing a late-race restart that paved the way for Max Verstappen to overtake Hamilton and clinch his maiden Formula 1 championship.
The FIA's subsequent investigation attributed the incident to "human error" and resulted in Masi's removal from the race director position.
In an interview with PA Sport, Ben Sulayem, who assumed office at the FIA after the culmination of the 2021 F1 season, has left the possibility open for Masi to rejoin a position within the FIA.
While the specific nature of this potential involvement remains unclear, it could signal a shift in the FIA's stance on Masi's past actions.
“I always apologise, but I cannot apologise for something which was done before my time,” Ben Sulayem explained.
“OK, I will do the apology, but I will bring Michael Masi again. Do you think that is right?
“The poor guy is a person who has been attacked and abused. Michael Masi went through hell. Hell! And if I see there is an opportunity that the FIA needs, and Michael Masi is the right person, I will bring him.”
In his response, Ben Sulayem drew a parallel between Hamilton’s controversial 2021 title loss with Mercedes and England's triumph over Germany in the 1966 World Cup final.
He specifically referenced Geoff Hurst's renowned and disputed second goal in drawing this comparison.
“I even had people threatening to kill me because I had the power to change it [the result],” said the 62-year-old Emirati.
“But I said to them: ‘Sorry, the World Cup of 1966, England against Germany, was that correct? Did they change it? No.’ Did they give it to Germany? Nein.”