Head of FIA investigation admits Masi may not return


As the FIA continues its investigation into the Abu Dhabi debacle, the man charged with leading the enquiry admits that Michael Masi may not return as race director.

Talking to Austria's Vorarlberger Nachrichten, the FIA's head of single-seater matters, Peter Bayer tells journalist Gerhard Kuntschick says that the FIA is looking to review the current system and that moving ahead certain roles may be divided.

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

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

With the results of the investigation not due to be made public until the eve of the season opener, and many, including the drivers, yet to be interviewed, it seems odd that the man charged with leading said investigation is already telling the media of the possible outcome and the presumed fate of the principal player.

One of the key factors in the final races of the season was the open lobbying of Masi by team bosses and their sporting directors, something that that FIA is looking to outlaw. Indeed, Bayer says there is talk of a "buffer", a form of “mission control” at the FIA’s HQ in Geneva, during events to help race control in interpreting the sporting regulations.

"The team managers will still be able to, they have to be able to ask questions," said Bayer. "But we want to build in a buffer with an employee who accepts these requests, so in the future, the race director will be able to concentrate on his task and will no longer be distracted."

In terms of Masi's controversial decision regarding the safety car, Bayer cited the NASCAR model, whereby "if neutralisation is necessary in the last two laps of the race, the lap counting ends and the laps are added at the end of the safety car phase.

"This could cause a fuel problem in F1," he admits, "which is why it is being looked at more closely.

"We also asked the teams if their requirement not to finish a race under safety car was still relevant, to which they all agreed."

With Mercedes opting not to proceed with its appeal, Bayer believes that if the German team had gone ahead it would not have affected the outcome.

"Had the Mercedes protest gone to the Court of Appeal, after being rejected by the stewards, what would have happened?" he said. "I think the judges would have said: 'It's different in the regulations, he decided that way, so we could just void the result'.

"But even then, if it were cancelled, Max Verstappen would have been world champion," he added. "The situation was far from perfect and that's why we're working on it. It's also about having respect for the race director. My job is to look ahead, how can we improve things?"

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Published: 29/01/2022
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