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FORMULA 1: Masi Removed As F1 Race Director

Michael Masi has been removed as F1 race director as part of a restructure at governing body the FIA in the wake of last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem announced a series of changes as a result of the inquiry into the controversial end to last year’s World Championship.

Masi failed to correctly apply the rules in a late safety car period and had a direct impact on the outcome of the title race.

Two men will now alternate in the role, while extra help will be provided to officials.

The new race directors will be Eduardo Freitas, who formerly performed the role in the World Endurance Championship, and Niels Wittich, who did so in the DTM German Touring Car Championship.

Freitas and Wittich will be assisted by F1 veteran Herbie Blash, who was the deputy race director under former FIA F1 director Charlie Whiting.

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Masi assumed the role of race director when Whiting died on the eve of the 2019 F1 season.

Masi will be “offered a new position within the FIA”, Ben Sulayem said.

In addition, as part of a wider restructure of race control aimed at providing a calmer environment, direct radio communications between the teams and the race director will no longer be allowed.

In Abu Dhabi, Masi came under pressure from both the Mercedes and Red Bull teams to make decisions in their favour. The huge controversy after the race arose from the fact that he seemed to follow Red Bull’s suggestions, to the advantage of their driver Max Verstappen over Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

After Masi failed to correctly apply the rules in two ways – over the management of lapped cars and the timing of the restart – Verstappen used his fresh tyres to overtake Hamilton on old ones and win his first world title.

Prior to that, Hamilton had dominated the race and was on course to win a record eighth championship.

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