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Michael Masi replaced as F1 race director after Abu Dhabi controversy

Masi became the race director in the 2019 season. He came under fire when he altered the safety car procedure at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finale to set up the last lap showdown between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

SportsTiger Staff Administrator

Updated - 18 February 2022 8:43 pm

Highlights
  • Australian Michael Masi has been replaced as Formula One race director in the wake of the title-deciding safety car controversy in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
  • He came under fire when he altered the safety car procedure at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finale to set up the last lap showdown between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

Michael Masi, who will be offered a new role within the FIA, will be replaced by Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas who will share the race director job as part of a wider restructuring of the sport’s refereeing process unveiled on Thursday by the governing body’s president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

Australian Michael Masi has been replaced as Formula One race director in the wake of the title-deciding safety car controversy in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the governing FIA’s new president said on Thursday.

ALSO READ | Lewis Hamilton announces ‘he is back’ after Abu Dhabi GP disappointment

Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the governing body of Formula One, said, “Respect and support of the referees is in the essence of the FIA. That is why these structural changes are crucial.”

Masi became the race director in the 2019 season. He came under fire when he altered the safety car procedure at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finale to set up the last lap showdown between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

A late crash during the last race of the season brought out the safety car with five laps remaining. While Verstappen stopped under yellow, Masi controversially changed his decision and let the drivers separating Verstappen from Hamilton pass the safety car. Until then, Hamilton led the race comfortably and was the favourite to extend his championship title tally. Verstappen resumed right behind Hamilton and, with help of a new set of tires changed during the yellow, sped past Hamilton seven corners from the finish and take his first title.

WATCH: Final lap at Abu Dhabi GP where Max Verstappen turned it around to win maiden championship title

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