Will former race director Michael Masi return to Formula 1? According to the new FIA boss Mohammed ben Sulayem, the door is not yet closed for the Australian in F1. This is obviously causing Lewis Hamilton great irritation and annoyance, particularly when considering his ongoing feud with Sulayem over the wearing of jewellery whilst racing.
After the brilliant and highly controversial 2021 F1 season finale in Abu Dhabi, when Max Verstappen overtook his rival Lewis Hamilton on the last lap to become world champion, Michael Masi in particular was at the centre of criticism. He had made Verstappen’s victory possible in the first place with his decision to let him catch up with Hamilton at the safety car restart.
In response to the controversy, Mercedes refused to attend the FIA gala in Paris and Hamilton went into hiding for weeks. The FIA, under its new president Mohammed bin Sulayem, launched an investigation into the events. This ultimately cost Masi his job, or so it seemed…
But the new FIA boss recently surprised everyone by saying that Masi could soon return to the pinnacle of motorsport:
“Michael is there and it is possible that we need him. We are open to everything.”
In what form Masi could support Formula One, bin Sulayem left open. Since 2022, Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich have formed the new race director team, which McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl recently praised:
“From my point of view, the new set-up with Niels and also Eduardo has made a very good start to this new era of Formula 1.” says Seidl.
It very much appears that Mercedes resists ex-race directors’ comeback and regardless of how Michael Masi might return to Formula One race weekends in the future, the FIA president’s announcement is said to have not gone down well at all with Lewis Hamilton, according to the Daily Mail.
The British driver reacted “angrily”, as the paper reported with reference to an insider. He and his closest advisers were also “surprised”.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, who was Michael Masi’s biggest critic after the season finale, is also said to have made his opposition to his reintegration into Formula One clear internally, according to the Daily Mail.