Michael Masi replaced as race director amid FIA structural changes
Michael Masi will be replaced as Formula 1 Race Director and offered a new position within the FIA as part of a series of changes following the governing body’s analysis into last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, who have recently worked in the World Endurance Championship and DTM respectively, will alternate the Race Director role.
They will be assisted by Herbie Blash – who returns to F1 having previously acted as deputy to Masi’s predecessor Charlie Whiting, as permanent senior advisor.
The new race management trio will begin their new roles in Barcelona next week, when three days of pre-season running take place.
Newly-elected FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem said that Masi “accomplished a very challenging job for three years as F1 race director following Charlie Whiting”.
Regarding the structural changes, Ben Sulayem said a Virtual Race Control Room will be created to assist the Race Director.
“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,” he said.
“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.
“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.”
He added: “I presented this complete plan to the members of the World Motor Sport Council and the Senate who gave their full support.