After admitting that Formula 1 could have a new race director this year, the new FIA boss for F1, Peter Bayer says public criticism of Michael Masi has hit the Australian hard. Massi got the job of FIA racing director after Charlie Whiting passed away a few days before the start of the 2019 season.
The Australian went relatively unnoticed in his first two years in business, but there were moments in 2021 when he made a vague decision, the most notable of which was the last race last year at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Masi's handling of the race on the Yas Marina Bay track during the safety car drew fierce criticism, and the FIA has launched an investigation into the matter to clarify his moves. An investigation that Bayer has admitted could result in the possibility of his removal - which would mean that the 2022 season kicked off with a new racing director from Bahrain.
However, while the FIA was quick to insist that a decision had not yet been made, Bayer felt that Massi had been hit hard by the criticism that came at his expense. "As a decision-maker, you rarely get sympathy.
What has become unbearable are the reactions on social media that stop nothing, which you have seen with the death threats against Williams Latifi. " "Michael doesn't have a profile, but criticism on other networks has really hit him.
In our conversations, I assured him of the association's support and let him know: We want to continue working with you, but I also need your understanding to work on this topic to explore, ”says Bauer. Not only were the social networks where Masi had to deal with the pressure, it also came during the racing weekends by the team bosses.
With FOM transmitting messages between the teams and Masi in control of the race, the public got an insight into what was going on in the background, and it wasn’t always nice.
Abu Dhabi race
In the last race last year in which the title was decided, Massi had to fight with Mercedes and Red Bull who advocated a decision that would play in their favor.
Mercedes initially wanted a virtual safety car for the Nicholas Latifi incident, one that would lead to Lewis Hamilton retaining a 10-second leadership position, and when the safety car went out on the track, they demanded that the race end behind SC.
At the same time, Red Bull advocated for the continuation of the race, and for the cars between Hamilton and Max Verstappen to be moved so that the Dutchman could come back behind the British, Massi went to the Red Bull option.
Bayer explains that he supports Formula 1 motorsport chief Ross Brown to prevent teams from contacting the racing director. "Team bosses will no longer be able to intervene on this channel," Bayer said, although team managers can still intervene because they need to be able to ask questions.
There will also be a buffer between the race director and the team bosses. "In this way, the race director can concentrate on his task in the future and will no longer interfere with it," Bayer concluded.