Former Formula 1 race director Michael Masi has decided to leave the governing FIA and relocate to Australia to be closer to his family seven months after playing a part in one of the sport’s biggest recent controversies. The FIA confirmed the development on Tuesday through a statement. Masi’s job in FIA will now be shared by Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich.
“The FIA confirms that Michael Masi has decided to leave the FIA and relocate to Australia to be closer to his family and take on new challenges. He oversaw a three-year period as FIA Formula 1 Race Director and Safety Delegate following the sudden passing of Charlie Whiting in 2019, carrying out the numerous functions he was tasked with in a professional and dedicated manner. The FIA thanks him for his commitment and wishes him the best for the future,” the FIA said in a statement.
Notably, while working as the race director, Masi changed the safety car re-start procedure at the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December which eventually changed the fate of the 2021 World Championship. This decision by Masi resulted in Red Bull’s Max Verstappen being handed the title instead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton who would have won his record eighth title had the rules remained the same.
After this massive controversy, he was replaced in February but had remained within the governing body, which had talked about offering him a new role. A report by the FIA had termed Masi’s mistake as “human error” and had said that he acted in “good faith”.
“In combination with the objective to finish under green flag racing conditions applied throughout the 2021 season, the report finds that the race director was acting in good faith and to the best of his knowledge given the difficult circumstances,” said the findings published by the FIA in March.