FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem says Michael Masi was removed from the position of race director “to take the pressure and the stress from him”.
Yesterday an executive summary of the FIA’s inquiry into the controversial ending of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has been released, and in it Michael Masi’s blatant disregard for the rules was explained with phrases like ‘acting in good faith’ and ‘human error’.
Well, it seems the FIA is really keen on exonerating Masi from any responsibility, because FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem now says he was removed “to take the pressure and the stress from him because really he went through a lot”.
“And we are grateful for the three years that he invested with us and he put his time in,” Ben Sulayem continued.
“Now we are negotiating with him, of course, to stay in the FIA. He is an important figure to us. So our people are negotiating, I would say, not a job, but another place for him within the FIA.
“Now we want to move on, we have finished with the race analysis, now we have a new race in Bahrain, the beginning of the 2022 [season], with all the new cars, all the excitement.
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“We should enjoy it, leave that behind us and make sure we have a good new year.”
Ben Sulayem went on to explain why the FIA chose to have two alternating race directors going forward.
“Formula 1 is such a hi-tech and dynamic sport that we cannot run race control like we used to.
“A race control director cannot be just one director. That’s the reason we brought some of our staff back like Herbie, for example, to support the race director.
“On top of that, we also have to do rotations, not just one. Because if you talk about 23 races, human fatigue is there, you’re talking about travels, so that cannot be so. This is also a solution.”
He also commented on F1’s new system similar to football’s VAR.
“The idea came to me in January when I made a visit to some of the Formula 1 teams and we went to one of the launches.
“I said ‘What’s that? It looks like a theatre?’ And they said ”This is actually a race control, but virtual’. I said ‘Why don’t we have one?’ I asked if we had one, and they said no.
“So we have invested in it and it’s actually working. So we didn’t promise, we are delivering.
“So they [the VRCR] will have another race control director, officials, they will have the legal department, they will support it. But the virtual race control will not be running the race.
“The race will be run from the country itself,” Ben Sulayem concluded.