Alpine driver Fernando Alonso says he is pleased with the recent changes to race control, but does not believe Michael Masi was removed as race director based on what happened at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Australian was relieved of his duties last week following the hugely controversial Safety Car restart at the Yas Marina Circuit, in which he allowed a limited number of lapped runners to pass the Safety Car, allowing Max Verstappen to snatch his maiden world title on the final lap from Sir Lewis Hamilton.
Initially, it appeared as though Masi would be receiving support and assistance from new executive director of single-seaters Peter Bayer, but newly elected FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem has replaced him with a combination of Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas.
They will be supported by former deputy race director Herbie Blash in wholesale changes to race control this year.
Alpine launched a striking blue and pink livery yesterday as part of their partnership with BWT, and Alonso and team-mate Esteban Ocon were on hand to give their thoughts on the controversy.
Alonso said he is enthused by the alterations to the hierarchy in F1, and thinks ben Sulayem has done a sterling job since his arrival.
“The new president obviously wanted to make sure that everything was in place, as I said also a couple of times I like Mohammed, I like the approach he has,” he said.
“So if he thinks that we needed some new ideas there, it’s for the good for everyone, so I’m happy with that.”
However, the Spaniard emphasised that he did not see “anything” wrong with what Masi did in December, so therefore hopes that the decision to reposition him was not owed to that.
“On the whole theme of Abu Dhabi, maybe I have a different opinion, I don’t think that there was anything wrong there,” he explained.
“I don’t think that they changed it [the race control structure] because of Abu Dhabi, or I hope not.”
Ocon agreed with the 40-year-old that the changes – aimed at allowing race control to adjudicate consistently in a calmer environment – are positives ones.
“If the rules can be followed the whole time, and be more consistent, I’m very pleased,” added the Frenchman.
Masi has been offered another position within the FIA after he lost the role of race director, but it is not yet known what that will entail.