Toto Wolff: FIA right to remove Masi as race director


Toto Wolff says the FIA has made positive steps in addressing the Abu Dhabi GP controversy

Toto Wolff, Mercedes

Wolff says that the FIA reached the right decision moving Masi aside as race director

Lars Baron/Getty Images

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff says that the FIA has made the right decisions in removing Michael Masi as FIA race director and appointing a new team for the 2022 season.

The FIA announced yesterday that Masi would no longer officiate F1 races following the controversial ending of the 2021 season.

Wolff said that he believed the changes were necessary and the right thing to do following the controversial ending to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“I believe that the right steps have been taken and optimistic about the changes that have been implemented,” Wolff said.

“The role of a race director is not easy and now with having two very experienced guys up there, that is good, but the support structure that has been built around them is essential. Not only in the race directors room, but also with a remote control room, where race directors can rely on the feedback and input to make the decision making process easier for them.

“I believe that the last few years, or the last couple of years, we have seen a little bit of freestyling the interpretation of the regulation so yes, I’m happy with the what has been implemented by the by the incoming president.”

Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich, race directors for the World Endurance Championship and DTM respectively will rotate as race directors and receive oversight from Herbie Blash, who returns to F1 after five years away as permanent senior advisor.

F1 will also get its own video assistant referee system similar to those used in football. An FIA office away from the circuit will serve as an extra race control room and assist the race director in reaching decisions quickly.

Throughout the season there were several decisions that appeared inconsistent, from track limits applications to penalties handed out for contact and other infringements.

In the title-deciding race, Lewis Hamilton defended the lead of the race on the opening lap by cutting the chicane at Turn 5 and 6 and was allowed to maintain position.

Later on, the safety car for Nicholas Latifi’s Williams was withdrawn earlier than regulations allow, giving Verstappen an extra lap to take the lead from Hamilton on old tyres and the world title with it.

Wolff also moved to deny any suggestion that the race had been fixed but underlined how the decision making process in Abu Dhabi was unprecedented and that change means the team can enter ’22 with optimsim.

“I think that the restructuring within the FIA how decisions are being made in Formula 1, sporting decisions and also technical decisions, was necessary,” he added.

“Last year was a great season but it created a lot of polarisation with decisions that were not always easy to understand. Nothing is fixed. I think it was just circumstances and decisions that that were unprecedented and how they came about, certainly for us was was a shock.

“Three laps to the end we got a message that the lapped cars will not be allowed to unlap themselves and four minutes later, there’s two messages that came out of nowhere.

“Now obviously we know what happened in the background, unknown to us, and the championship was gone.

“We had four minutes of decision making process that’s unprecedented. But also we have to move on from that. I think it’s in the past and with the with the measures that were announced yesterday by Mohammed (bin Sulayem), I think we need we need to put it aside.

“We are not going to forget it because that’s simply not possible but we need to look into 2022 and especially today launching the car this should be the moment that with the steps that have been taken by the FIA, embark with encouragement into the season.”