Sky Sports reporter Ted Kravitz wonders if Michael Masi came to an agreement with the FIA amid his departure from the motorsport governing body.
Controversy surrounded the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last season when Masi allowed five lapped cars to pass the Safety Car ahead of the final lap of the race, opening the door for Max Verstappen to pass Sir Lewis Hamilton to win his maiden title.
It cruelly cost Hamilton his eighth championship, and while the FIA conceded in their investigation that a “human error” was made by Masi, they also stated that there was “confusion” caused by the vague regulations, and that the Australian had “multiple responsibilities” that were getting in his way.
Just before the report from the FIA’s investigation was released, Masi was removed as race director and replaced by a combination of Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich.
New FIA president, Mohammed ben Sulayem, indicated that the door is still open for a Masi return at some stage in the future, but the 44-year-old has now left and headed back to Australia to spend more time with his family.
This led Kravitz to indicate that a severance deal had been reached between Masi and the FIA.
“Am I hanging on to Abu Dhabi? Well Lewis is,” explained Kravitz on his Notebook show.
“Toto [Wolff] is… heaven knows a lot of other people are, and I think it’s important that we close the book.
“Now, is Michael Masi… so this week, between now and Austria, we had the closing of the door, the closing of the chapter of the race director Michael Masi, who didn’t interpret the rules in that way that they’ve been written.
“And that cost Lewis Hamilton an eighth world championship, [he] gave it to Max Verstappen.
“So, the last we heard, the FIA were discussing with Michael Masi about some other role within the FIA he might do, and then we’ve heard nothing for ages.
“And now, just between Austria and here [France] we hear that Michael Masi has left the FIA and has gone back to Australia.
“So, has there been some sort of agreement? Has there been some sort of settlement? Has there been a legal case? We don’t know.
“Why has Michael Masi left the FIA at all when all the FIA would say about Abu Dhabi was that there was some human error but essentially, everything was handled as it could have been… maybe not should have been, but could have been.
“The FIA can’t say anything more because of the legitimacy of the world championship, we’ve spoken about that before, you’ll have your own views on that I’m sure.
“Anyway, it’s not Mercedes’ problem; they closed the door on Abu Dhabi earlier on in January when Michael Masi was effectively not going to be race director anymore.
“The fact that now it’s just official between Masi and the FIA has nothing to do with Mercedes.”
Now that Masi is gone, Kravitz wonders if the pinnacle of motorsport can finally move on from the controversy of last year.
“But I think the rest of us… can we now have some closure?” he pondered.
“Open question, can we now have some closure on Abu Dhabi [now] that Michael Masi has nothing to do with Formula 1 anymore, potentially ever.
“And he’s gone with our best wishes as a human being, of course, back to Australia to live with his family.
“Maybe we can [close the door].”