Masi ‘needs a lot of support around him’ to continue as race director

Many fans have called for the sacking of race director Michael Masi after the controversial end to the 2021 season.

Former Formula 1 driver Martin Brundle believes that an over-abundance of pressure is placed upon race director Michael Masi during race weekends, and he therefore needs help with the job.

Masi was the centre of controversy on a number of occasions during the 2021 season, not least during the final race in Abu Dhabi when he decided to permit just five lapped cars past a late Safety Car despite ruling that none of them would go through four minutes earlier.

READ: FIA strongly warned against using Masi as ‘sacrificial lamb’ after Abu Dhabi controversy

This facilitated a final lap move from Max Verstappen to take the title away from Sir Lewis Hamilton.

Since then, many fans on social media have called for the removal of the Australian from his position, and Mercedes have reportedly denied striking a deal with the FIA to sack him in return for dropping their appeal into the championship result.

Michael Masi after the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP controversy involving Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.v1

The governing body are carrying out an investigation into the four minutes between the contradictory decisions by the 44-year-old.

Brundle admits that, following the intense backlash from 2021, Masi is likely treading on thin ice.

“If the FIA and F1 want Michael Masi to stay, and if Michael Masi wants to stay, he’s clearly only got one life left, hasn’t he? So I don’t know if that’s tenable all round,” he said on Sky’s F1 show.

However, the Briton warns that sacking one person is not going to fix the issues within F1.

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“Who would you replace him with? Be careful what you wish for, I would say in this. What I absolutely know for sure is that changing Michael Masi will not fix the problem,” he insisted.

As a result, the former McLaren driver suggests that Brundle needs “support” in order to confront the multitude of issues that face him during a race weekend.

“This is way too big a job for one person to handle in a 23-race season [and] it’s only going to grow – we’re all over the world,” he explained.

“Back in the day it was 16, 18 races for Charlie [Whiting, ex-race director] and Herbie [Blash, ex-deputy race director].

“Charlie used to start the race and Herbie was effectively the race director until Charlie got back from the starting rostrum down near the grid.

“They had it all under control, but it’s just growing exponentially.

“So Masi, if he stays, needs a lot of support around him, and I suspect that’s what they’re looking at, at the moment. And who would actually want to step into his shoes right now?”

Sky F1 commentator David Croft joined his colleague in opining that, should the FIA decide it is time for a change, there is no obvious name in the hat to swap in for the current race director.

“You need an experienced operator within motorsport,” he suggested.

“I’ve seen Eduardo Freitas, the race director for 20 years or so at Le Mans now tipped as a replacement.

“He actually shadowed Michael Masi for a weekend at a race at Portimao. I’m told, after that, he said he didn’t want the job working within Formula 1.

READ: Horner hoping Hamilton doesn’t retire after Abu Dhabi heartbreak

“Steve Nielsen is another name that has been tipped, he works as the sporting director at Formula 1 for Liberty Media, but another that does not want the job and doesn’t want to be working for the FIA.”

As such, the 51-year-old tells Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff that, if he would like Masi to be relieved of his duties, he needs to have a solid replacement in mind.

“In terms of ‘get rid of Michael Masi’, if that’s Toto Wolff’s belief, you’ve got to have someone ready to bring in and I don’t think that person is there as it stands at the moment.”

The FIA will conclude their investigation into the events of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on 18 March, two days before the season gets underway in Bahrain.

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