Masi was heavily criticized for his handling of the late safety car restart at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which resulted in Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton losing the race lead and the world championship to the Red Bull drivers on the final lap. Rival Max Verstappen lost.
Masi let the lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen past the safety car but kept those behind Verstappen in place.
Mercedes announced its intention to appeal the result of the Abu Dhabi race after its post-race protest against the safety car procedure was dismissed, but later decided to withdraw this after the FIA conducted an internal review had initiated.
Hamilton has not spoken about his future since a brief interview immediately after the race, with Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff revealing last month that both he and Hamilton are “disillusioned” with F1.
The FIA released its first statement on the matter since Mohammed Ben Sulayem was appointed president on Thursday, stating that its analysis of what happened in Abu Dhabi will include a focus on the deployment of the safety car.
Amid speculation about Masi’s future, Sky Sports F1 pundit Brundle said his removal would not solve F1’s woes.
“What I know for absolutely certain is that moving Michael Masi won’t solve the problem,” said Brundle, a veteran of 158 Grand Prix starts between 1984 and 1996.
“It’s far too big a task for one person to handle in a 23-race season, it’s only going to grow.
“Back then with 16-18 races for Charlie [Whiting, Masi’s predecessor] and Herbie [Blash, Whiting’s assistant]Charlie used to start the race and Herbie was practically the race director until Charlie came back from the starting grandstand near the starting grid.
“They had everything under control but it’s just growing exponentially so if he stays Masi needs a lot of support around him and I guess that’s what they’re seeing at the moment.
“And who would actually want to follow in his footsteps now?”
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, on the final lap
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
Brundle added that Masi “has only one life left” if both he and the FIA want him to stay.
“So I don’t know if that’s sustainable overall,” he said.
Brundle’s Sky colleague Johnny Herbert, a three-time Grand Prix winner, suggested Masi’s position was now untenable.
“I think he did too much damage to Formula 1,” he said. “You have to have faith in the position he’s in and I think that faith has completely and completely gone.
“The problem is, who do you replace him with? Because obviously experience will be very important for the man who fills this position.
“Michael was very lucky, he was under Charlie Whiting when Charlie took over and he learned a lot of good things from that perspective.
“Is there anyone who is standing out for me at the moment to replace him? No. And that is the riddle.”
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