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F1 | Race Director Michael Masi sacked, Wittich and Freitas to share the role in 2022

Michael Masi has been removed as F1 Race Director following the divisive ending to last year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. He'll be replaced by two Race Directors who will share the role.

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F1 | Race Director Michael Masi sacked, Wittich and Freitas to share the role in 2022
Fuente imagen: Hasan Bratic - MotorLat

Ahead of the 2022 season which begins next month, new FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has announced sweeping changes aiming to improve decisions in the sport.

The biggest news from his speech is the ousting of Michael Masi as Formula One Race Director.

The Australian, who had been in the role since the beginning of 2019 following the untimely passing of Charlie Whiting, lost his job after the hugely controversial ending to the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

He initially had stated that no cars would be allowed to unlap themselves, but then changed his mind and allowed the lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to overtake the Safety Car, following Latifi’s crash.

It allowed Verstappen on much fresher tyres to overtake Hamilton and claim his first Drivers’ Championship.

There will be two race directors rotating the role this year. Niels Wittich (DTM) and Eduardo Freitas (WEC) come in to replace the Australian.

Herbie Blasch, who was FIA Deputy Race Director for many years and formed a great working relationship with Charlie Whiting, returns to the sport as permanent senior advisor.

Ben Sulayem also confirmed that a virtual race control room will be made to assist the Race Director when it comes to making decisions.

Direct radio communications to the Race Director, which were played out on TV and became a hot topic as 2021 wore on, will be removed. Only certain questions can be asked from 2022 onwards, but won't be heard by the fans at home. 

Finally, there will be a reassessment of procedures when it comes to cars unlapping themselves behind the Safety Car. The findings will be given to the F1 Commission before the season gets underway in Bahrain.

Read the full speech from Mohammed Ben Sulayem in full below.

"Ladies, gentlemen,

"During the F1 Commission Meeting in London, I presented part of my plan for a new step forward in Formula 1 refereeing.

"Drawing conclusions from the detailed analysis of the events of the last F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and from the 2021 season, I proposed an in-depth reform of the organization of refereeing and race direction. It was unanimously supported by F1 CEO and teams principals.

"Here is my plan for these structural changes:

"Firstly, to assist the race director in the decision-making process, a Virtual Race Control Room will be created. Alike the Video Assistance Referee (VAR) in football, it will be positioned in one of the FIA Offices as a backup outside the circuit. In real-time connection with the FIA F1 race director, it will help to apply the sporting regulations using the most modern technological tools.

"Secondly, direct radio communications during the race, currently broadcast live by all TVs, will be removed in order to protect the race director from any pressure and allow him to take decisions peacefully. It will still be possible to ask questions to the race director, according to a well-defined and non-intrusive process.

"Thirdly, unlapping procedures behind safety car will be reassessed by the F1 Sporting Advisory Committee and presented to the next F1 Commission prior to the start of the season.

"And finally, I would like to inform you that a new race management team will be put in place starting in Barcelona for the test session.

"Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas will act alternatively as Race Director, assisted by Herbie Blash as permanent senior advisor.

"Michael Masi, who accomplished a very challenging job for three years as Formula 1 race director following Charlie Whiting, will be offered a new position within the FIA.

"I presented this complete plan to the members of the World Motor Sport Council and the Senate who gave their full support.

"With this plan, FIA opens the way for a new step forward in Formula 1 refereeing. Without the referees, there is no sport. Respect and support of the referees is in the essence of the FIA. That is why these structural changes are crucial in a context of strong development and the legitimate expectations of drivers, teams, manufacturers, organizers, and of course, the fans.

"I warmly thank all those who contributed to this reform.

"These changes will enable us to start the 2022 Formula 1 season in the best conditions, and our sport will be even more loved and respected.

"Thank you for your attention."

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