Who Is F1’s Under Fire Race Director Michael Masi?

Published 12/14/2021, 7:00 AM EST


When Max Verstappen crossed the line at the end of lap 58 in Abu Dhabi, he wrote his name in golden letters as the winner of the greatest season in Formula 1 history. But along with the Red Bull driver, there’s another name that will forever be mentioned whenever we think of this season. That name is Michael Masi, F1 race director. Because it was Masi’s decisions that seriously impacted the outcome of the race.

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The race director’s influence on the season grew and grew until it peaked in the most incredible way. A way through which Max Verstappen emerged victorious and Lewis Hamilton emerged as the second-best.

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But before we dive into what Michael Masi did, let’s figure out who Michael Masi is.

Who is Michael Masi?

Michael Masi, as mentioned before, is the Formula 1 race director. He is also the safety delegate and head of the F1 technical department. And his job is essentially making sure everything is done properly, legally, and in line with the spirit of racing.

This sounds like quite a lot, and one can only imagine how much pressure someone in his position might be under.

Masi studied marketing and is an Australian. His first breakthrough in the world of motorsports came after he became a volunteer in the Supercar Touring Series.

Fast forward many years, Masi was now the deputy race director in F2 and F3, along with being a deputy to F1’s former race director, Charlie Whiting. And it was after the unfortunate death of Whiting that Masi filled his shoes at the start of 2019.

So, the end of this season marks the third year Michael Masi has been in charge as a race director. Although, as things stand, he might not make it to four.

F1 Chief at center of Abu Dhabi Grand Prix farce

Nothing that can be said about the final lap controversy in Abu Dhabi would be new. This is simply because every single person in the Formula 1 community has talked, explained, and given their opinion about the end of the race, even the ones who are outside F1, have offered explanations and opinions.

So to put it simply and as concisely as possible, Michael Masi issued a directive regarding the overtaking of lapped cars during the safety car. But moments later, he completely went back on his decision and issued a new one.

And this directly facilitated Max Verstappen winning and Lewis Hamilton losing. The problem now isn’t that Masi did something out of FIA regulations, but the way he did it and the time he did it at.

What’s next for Masi?

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Many fans and many people have asked for him to be removed from his position. But it’s unlikely that will happen. What will happen though is the removal of F1 teams being able to communicate with race control, which makes their job complicated.

Moreover, we could see a bigger team in the race control department to support the race director.

What happened in Abu Dhabi, however dramatic, wasn’t good for the sport, and Michael Masi found himself at the epicenter of this flood of scrutiny.

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Hopefully, by next year, there will be more clarity, more control without compromising on the excitement of the races.

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Shaharyar

490 articles

Shaharyar is a Formula 1 & NASCAR writer at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Journalism from Amity University, he has been a passionate follower of motorsports for better part of the decade. A Max Verstappen and Ferrari supporter, he dreams of a pairing of the two in future.

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