Michael Masi will be replaced as Formula 1 Race Director, and has been offered a new position within the FIA as a part of changes following the governing bodies analysis into last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, who have both recently worked in the World Endurance Championship and DTM, they will alternate the Race Director role. As well as this, they will be assisted by Herbie Blash- who is returning to F1, having previously acted as deputy to Masi’s predecessor Charlie Whiting, as permanent senior advisor.
The new race management trio will begin their new roles, in Barcelona next week when three days of pre-season running will take place.
Regarding the structural changes, FIA President, Mohammed Ben Sulayem said a Virtual Race Control Room will be created to assist the Race Director. See below to see his full statement.
“Alike the Video Assistance Referee (VAR) in football, it will be positioned in one of the FIA Offices as a backup outside the circuit. In real-time connection with the FIA F1 race director, it will help to apply the sporting regulations using the most modern technological tools,” he said. “Direct radio communications during the race, currently broadcast live by all TVs, will be removed in order to protect the race director from any pressure and allow him to take decisions peacefully. It will still be possible to ask questions to the race director, according to a well-defined and non-intrusive process. Unlapping procedures behind Safety Car will be reassessed by the F1 Sporting Advisory Committee and presented to the next F1 Commission prior to the start of the season. I presented this complete plan to the members of the World Motor Sport Council and the Senate who gave their full support.”
First of all I think it is 100% the right thing for Masi to be removed as Race Director, there was many occasions last year where fans/teams/drivers were not happy with decisions being made especially in Abu Dhabi.
The radio communications I agree with too, at the beginning of the year they were good as it was a brilliant start to the amazing season we saw, but towards the end it just got silly and they just kept going back and forth from one team to the race director then another team.
The new virtual race control room is interesting, unsure on how it will work especially on how many things happen in a race and/or qualifying. But saying this, hopefully it does work and help the race director.