The final race of the 2021 season was ruined by Masi as Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen competed for the title of World Champion. It came down to a final lap sprint between the Red Bull and the Mercedes, but Verstappen passed Hamilton before going on to win the title after safety car rules were mishandled by the then-race director.
Delighted with the result but the stewards need to be banned. We’ve had enough of them.
— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) December 12, 2021
The issue formed when Masi let a number of lapped cars overtake Hamilton, which meant that Verstappen was right behind the Brit on fresh tyres. Hamilton’s tyres had taken a beating, but had made places before this. The race was then restarted one lap before the regulations say it was supposed to.
Today, the new FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has confirmed that Masi has now been removed from his position of race director, and the system of controlling and officiating F1 races will undergo a huge overhaul. It’s clear, through this reveal from the FIA, that the end of the race was not supposed to go how it did.
Lewis Hamilton will be speaking to the press tomorrow for the first time since Abu Dhabi alongside the launching of the Mercedes F1 car for 2022. He’ll likely be talking about how it felt to be let down by the FIA, and how this change makes up for that.
Two people will be taking Masi’s place as race director, with it now alternating between Niels Wittich, the current race director for DTM, and Eduardo Freitas, the race director of the World Endurance Championship. The role will also have input from Herbie Blash, a 73 year old who has experience in this role.
Another change coming to this role is the communication between it and the teams. Masi was inundated with messages from Mercedes and Red Bull after the Abu Dhabi GP, so in the future, teams will have no contact directly with the race director. This instead will likely be managed by Blash.
Those involved will use a virtual race control room which will be outside of the circuit but will have a real-time connection to the race. This will allow the new race director to apply the correct regulations when necessary “using the most modern technological tools”.
With more car reveals to come, 2022 could be a very interesting year.