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With the investigation into last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix controversy coming to an end, the FIA has promised to reveal its findings and an action plan of changes is due to be announced imminently.
With fan backlash still at fever pitch over the events of last year’s season finale, when F1 race director Michael Masi selectively implemented the rules to engineer a final-lap shootout after a late safety car period, the outcome of the FIA’s investigation is viewed as critical for repairing the damage done to the organisation and F1.
And while details of what the FIA plans to do were not communicated in an F1 Commission meeting with teams in London on Monday, that was because Ben Sulayem wanted to take on board more feedback before committing to the changes.
Furthermore, it is understood that if the FIA is settled on changing Masi’s role or moving him aside, then it may not have been a good moment to announce it in a meeting that the Australian was understood to be present at.
Speaking to Sky F1, Ben Sulayem expressed his belief that the FIA’s action will be robust and ensure that the sport can start the season in a better place.
“We agreed on certain things, and the analysis is still going on, but it will come soon,” he said about the Abu Dhabi investigation. “It was a good discussion there…(and) information will be announced.
“But definitely, as we said, the integrity of the FIA will always be intact. I am elected to do that, but also to have a fair motorsport: that’s my duty. So, it was a very good meeting.
Michael Masi, Race Director Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images
“We went through a lot of important things for the season, so I expect a good F1 season. We can only go forward. This is important for the FIA, for the integrity of the FIA and for the sport. We can only improve the future.”
It is thought likely that the FIA will announce a new structure to F1 race control in a bid to help better manage the stresses and strains for the race director.
It was widely accepted within F1 that Masi had too much on his plate, and was overwhelmed at times by external pressures from teams in crunch moments to effectively do his job.
The FIA may choose to revamp the structure so the race director has better support and more staff around him, potentially with Masi’s former duties being split across several people.
If Masi does not continue as race director himself, then WEC race director Eduardo Freitas and former DTM race director Niels Wittich have emerged as the potential favourites to step up to the role – even potentially on a shared basis.