Michael Masi could be replaced as Formula 1 race director, but even if he remains on there will likely be changes to the FIA’s trackside structure this year, according to the FIA’s Peter Bayer.
The FIA is currently carrying out a detailed analysis of the closing stages of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that resulted in Masi being criticized for his application of the Safety Car regulations, which played a major part in Max Verstappen overtaking Lewis Hamilton to win the championship. Bayer was named the single-seater director alongside his role of secretary general for motor sport earlier this month and is heavily involved in the ongoing analysis, and he admits that Masi’s role could change.
“Michael has done a great job in many ways,” Bayer told Austria’s Voralberger Nachrichten. “We definitely don’t want to lose him. We told him that, but also that there is a possibility that there may be a new race director.
“I can only make proposals to the World Council, and they will definitely include Michael.”
Bayer made it clear that he feels there needs to be a lessening of the demands on the race director, with Masi currently being asked to fulfill multiple roles within the FIA.
“There will be a division of the diverse tasks of the race director, who is also sporting director, safety and track delegate,” he said. “That was just too much.”
However, when reflecting on the Mercedes appeal that was eventually dropped after Abu Dhabi, Bayer says the outcome of the championship was unlikely to change regardless of what happened.
“Masi had several options in those seconds when he had to decide, all according to regulations. He could have finished the race under safety car, he could have stopped (red flag), but Nicholas Latifi’s accident would not have justified it. Or he could have done what he did, which was to get out of there somehow.
“If the Mercedes protest had gone to the Court of Appeal after rejection by the stewards, what would have come out of it? I believe that the judges would have said that the regulations say differently to what he decided, so we could only declare the result invalid.
“But even then – in the event of cancellation – Max Verstappen would have been world champion. It’s also about having respect for the race director.”