The race director role in Formula 1 is one that has been under a lot of scrutiny in recent seasons and once again, there will be two new appointments ahead of the 2023 season.
Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich split the role in 2022 after the sacking of Michael Masi but after the pair both made some shocking decisions last season, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has decided to replace them.
Former race director Michael Masi has been linked with a sensational return to the role in the future, but this seems highly unlikely due to the nature of his exit at the end of the 2021 season.
The 44-year-old’s decision making at the season finale in Abu Dhabi, which Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen entered level on points, was controversial to say the least.
During a late safety car triggered by Nicholas Latifi, Masi only allowed the lapped cars between the two championship rivals to unlap themselves, leaving time for a single racing lap.
Despite leading the race by quite some margin, Verstappen’s decision to pit for the soft tyres saw him easily pass Hamilton on this final lap, meaning that he narrowly beat the Brit to the 2021 championship title.
Understandably, Toto Wolff and Mercedes were furious at the decision and the Austrian has now fired a fresh shot at Masi, claiming that he fell out of love with the sport after the incident.
“It was tough after Abu Dhabi. I have always liked the principle that the stopwatch never lies. The team that wins is the one that deserves to be the champion,” he told The Times.
“But this was different. At the end of the race, an individual took decision that were not reflected anywhere in the rule book and were so drastic that they made the outcome unbelievable. That is a moment when you fall out of love with the sport.
“The principle of fairness was breached. The FIA took the guy out of the job because it was human error. But it’s done and dusted now. I still think about it a lot, but not with anger; it is just incomprehensible how it came about.”
It was initially feared that Lewis Hamilton would not return to Formula 1 following the alleged injustice, with everybody at Mercedes baffled and angry at the outcome of the race.
The Brit did eventually decide to return but is still yet to claim a record breaking eighth world title, something he will hope to achieve this upcoming season.