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FIA Chief Suggests Michael Masi Could Be Replaced Over F1 Finale Fiasco

FIA Chief Suggests Michael Masi Could Be Replaced Over F1 Finale Fiasco
By Eoin Harrington

The inquiry into the conclusion of the 2021 Formula 1 season is ongoing - but the FIA have given the clearest indication yet that race director Michael Masi may be in a spot of bother.

The dramatic and controversial conclusion to the title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix continues to cause uproar, and Masi's decision making in the closing laps may have put his job in danger. The FIA's head of single-seater racing, Peter Bayer, has suggested that Masi may not continue in his role of F1 race director for 2022.

Michael Masi may be replaced as F1 race director

Last season saw a dramatic title battle between Max Verstappen and seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton go down to the last race in Abu Dhabi. With the pair tied on points and Hamilton leading the race with five laps to go, a late safety car allowed Verstappen the chance to move to faster tyres.

It was then that race director Michael Masi made the much-maligned call to bend the rules slightly and let only some of the lapped cars through and restart the race for the final lap at short notice. Both decisions worked in Verstappen's favour, and allowed the Dutchman to pass Hamilton and claim a first championship. (We have a more detailed explanation here)

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Though there has been no suggestion of foul play or rigging, the decision to bend the rules in the name of the "show" has drawn criticism and controversy in the weeks since Abu Dhabi. Michael Masi's decision making was questioned and, this week, Peter Bayer gave an indication that the FIA are considering replacing Masi. Bayer said:

Michael did a super job in many ways, we told him that. But also that there is the possibility that there could be a new race director.

Bayer's comments suggest that Masi is aware his job is under threat and, at this rate, it would be surprising to see him still at the helm by the time March's season opener in Bahrain rolls around.

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Verstappen's victory was fully deserved, and he did suffer his fair share of bad luck over the season. That being said, the circumstances in which the championship was won rightly caused outrage, with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff saying in the aftermath of the race that the decision had taken its toll on Hamilton.

The Formula 1 sphere has been critical of Masi, with 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg suggesting his decisions were the reason Hamilton was not an eight-time champion. Northern Irish race winner John Watson suggested recently that Masi had been influenced by the melodrama of the Netflix series Drive to Survive.

Whatever comes next for Michael Masi, he will be remembered in F1 history for the role he played in one of the most dramatic and controversial title deciders in the sport's history.

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SEE ALSO: How To Spend Your Time In The Formula 1 Off Season

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