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FIA issues statement following Masi comments

NEWS STORY
29/01/2022

The FIA has been forced to issue a statement following comments by a senior official charged with leading the investigation into the events at Abu Dhabi last month.

In an unprecedented move - though maybe not considering the direction the sport is taking at present - just days into the investigation, the findings of which won't be made public until the eve of the season opener, Peter Bayer, the man leading the investigation shared his thoughts with an Austrian journalist.

"Michael did a super job in many ways," he told Gerhard Kuntschick of Vorarlberger Nachrichten. "We told him that, but also that there is a possibility there could be a new race director."

Bayer, himself an Austrian, then said that moving forward, what was the role of one man, the race director, may be shared by several individuals.

"(We are looking at) dividing the various tasks of the race director, who is also sports director, safety and track delegate," said Bayer. "That was simply too much. These roles are divided between several people. This reduces the burden on the race director."

The head of the investigation speaking to the media - and appearing to divulge the findings - is unprecedented, and would result in a mistrial in a typical legal case.

Clearly aware of the implications, the FIA has today issued a brief statement.

"At this stage, no decision has been taken on the outcome of the detailed analysis currently underway into the events of the last Abu Dhabi Grand Prix," it read.

"As previously announced, the findings of this detailed analysis will be presented at the F1 Commission meeting in London on 14 February after an open discussion with all F1 drivers and then finally have to be approved at the World Motor Sport Council meeting on 18 March in Bahrain under the authority of FIA President, Mohammed Ben Sulayem."

A serious lapse of judgement by Bayer, which pours doubt on his handling of the investigation and could surely open the way for subsequent legal action by Michael Masi.

This is amateur stuff from Bayer and thereby the FIA, and one can't help but wonder if the intention was to send a public message to Mercedes, Toto Wolff, Lewis Hamilton and fans that they're on the case and all will be okay.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by kenji, 02/02/2022 11:02

"@ Stitch431...I am reluctant to fully accept your analysis however I do think that you've touched on a very important fact. That is the apparent application of 'conscious bias'. It is 'conscious bias' which I believe is the greatest contributor to nuanced decision making and possibly your suggestion that nationality be taken into account when steward allocations are determined is worthy of consideration. "sub conscious bias' I believe is inbuilt and not so easily prevented from implementation as it is seen as a normal trait. Getting the balance right would be a monumental challenge but as I said earlier, worthy of more debate."

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Stitch431, 02/02/2022 9:22

"As stated below many of the decisions were taken by the stewards. There are 2 stewards who have consequently ruled in all their decisions (over the last 5 years), against Max and in favor of Lewis. Gary Connely and Derek Warrick (you can all look it up on the site of the FIA).

This kind of bias should be banished. In my opinion, as soon as the season is in its third race, the stewards coming from the same country as one of the title contenders should be replaced by ones from another country. It is falsifying the competition."

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by atlanta fan, 01/02/2022 23:53

"Ditto on Canuck comments! 100% right on both counts. And all the hype about will Lewis return in 2022 or go away and sulk, frankly I don't care anymore. Lewis is a great talent, a true master in the wet, and one of the top 10 drivers of the past 100 years, BUT he is not bigger than F1. F1 will surive without Lewis and continue to be the top motorsport series in the world. So, go, stay, I don't care anymore."

Rating: Positive (3)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

4. Posted by Canuck, 01/02/2022 14:14

"Mercedes should also look at the mistake they made. Red Bull took a chance and pitted Max for new tires, twice. Mercedes were afraid to relinquish the lead and did not pit Lewis. Had they pitted first, would Red Bull have pitted Max? I think a large part of Toto's demonstrated anger was because of the strategic mistake they took.
If there is a big change that needs to be made, no calls to the race director during the race. Both Mercedes and Red Bull put undue pressure on Masi which should not be allowed. And this was not just in the last race - but throughout the year. No contact with the race director should be allowed during a race. "

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5. Posted by Winsor C, 01/02/2022 8:00

"Hamilton thinks his silence will force a reversal in the last race outcome?
He needs to realize that he is not bigger than F1.
IMO if you're not cheating or trying to cheat your not trying to win enough.
Let them race without changing rules for outcomes."

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6. Posted by kenji, 01/02/2022 0:44

"@ Spindoctor..you raise a valid point re the FIA participating in events 'at the expense of its integrity as a Sport'. F1 is not a sport in the true accepted sense of the word. When the governing body sanctions real time intervention of events by team principals seeking specific actions during a race that should tell you something. When major teams place a contracted driver into another team, for a consideration, and then manipulate [ or attempt to ] their on track racing without FIA taking any retribution for 'attempted race fixing' it tells you that this is not a sport. Apply the same analogy to British football and see where that ends up? As for track limits...what a supersized fiasco that is.....a cricket pitch has white lines, one centimetre over the crease and you're dead...

"

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7. Posted by Spindoctor, 31/01/2022 10:43

"The problem is that since the Liberty take-over, FIA has adopted the role of "Junior Partner" in F1. This contrasts with the Max 'n Bernie show, where Mosley & Ecclestone appeared at least to be roughly equal partners. Their working relationship kept a balance between the showbiz aspects of F1 and the Sport.

The current situation sems to be that FIA willingly participates in promoting F1 as Soap, at the expense of its integrity as a Sport. The continual "confusion" regarding Track Limits & associated "Driving Standards" could have been cleared-up very easily with an edict from FIA, but no such undertaking was forthcoming... The Safety Car fiasco also derived from a lack of authority. This business over Masi does not augur well for the future management of F1...."

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8. Posted by Mad Matt, 30/01/2022 9:50

"As I've previously said I don't want to see Michael Masi sacked and I would say, excepting the last race, I think all the bad decisions were from the stewards and not him. He's been calm, polite, un-flustered... in my opinion.

So we've got two issues, inconsistent stewarding decisions and Michael's bad call in the last race (Michael had previously said that he was obliged to let all lapped cars pass etc. etc.).

Which means that both these issues need to be addressed by the FIA. As for Michael's mistake, an acknowledgement that at the very least it was a "grey area ", even if I don't think it was, along with a clarification of the rules would go a long way to restore my confidence in the sport.

Clear rules and consistent and timely application from the stewards would do the rest.

I honestly don't care if Max or Lewis win as neither are among my favourites and both are extremely talented drivers whose on track abilities have wowed me on many occasions.

However, I can understand that teams who are spending 100s of millions need to see that they can win based on clear and consistent rules, so of course teams like Mercedes and Red Bull complain when they feel that's not the case.... and then they go over the line and complain about things which were fair and the pantomime begins....."

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9. Posted by kenji, 29/01/2022 23:46

"@ Stitch431....Well, said and I fully agree. If the FIA bow to the wishes of Mercedes et al then the entire issue of governance is brought into question. Let's hope that Sulayem has the backbone to stay away from all that and that Masi is retained. 'No Wolffie,no'."

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10. Posted by Stitch431, 29/01/2022 16:02

"Well, that is a good improvement in my opinion. They should leave Michael Masi there in his role as race director, and give him more support. What was a split-second decision should not be the reason to fire him. After all, during the rest of the season, Mercedes has had more advantage of the FIA decisions than Red Bull.
I believe it would not be a sign of fairness if the FIA would bow to the pressure of Mercedes and Hamiltons song of silence (his own choice), even before the next season has started. The competition should be on track, and the teams should not be allowed to even start discussions about the rules (or who will enforce them). That is my humble opinion of the matter. And if Hamilton decides to stop (I don't think he will, because then a quick and simple statement would have done the trick), so be it. F1 has survived losing all other great champs in history. "

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