Replacing Michael Masi ‘won’t fix F1’s problem’ as sack looms for race director

Sacking Michael Masi as the sport's race director would not solve all of F1 's problems, a leading pundit has warned.

The Australian has been under fire ever since his call to end a safety car period early at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix saw Max Verstappen overtake Lewis Hamilton to snatch the title away from the Briton.

It was the latest in a string of controversial decisions by the race director, and a decisive one in the title race.

The furore which has followed has left many with the opinion that Masi's role is untenable as he appears to have lost credibility with both teams and fans.

Sky Sports pundit Johnny Herbert is one of those, and said he cannot see the race director still being in his position come the start of the 2022 season.

Asked if he thought Masi could survive the fallout, Herbert said: "In all respects, no. I think he's done too much damage to Formula 1.

"Because of the position he is in, you've got to have trust and I think that trust has completely evaporated.

"The problem is, who do you replace him with? Experience is going to be very important for whoever slots into that position. Michael was fortunate that he was underneath [former race director] Charlie Whiting and he learned a lot of good things.

"Is there anybody who stands out at the moment to replace him? No, and that's the conundrum."

Posed the same question, fellow former racer Damon Hill disagreed and called for Masi to be given the tools he needs to be able to properly control things on a race weekend.

"I think he's learned his lesson and I think we need someone who has some experience – at least people know what they're dealing with," the 1996 world champion said.

"He just needs backup and needs to be given the confidence that he can lay down the law according to what he wants to see done – assuming he wants it to be done to the regulations."

Meanwhile, Martin Brundle warned F1 bosses that all their problems would not magically disappear if they chose to dispense of Masi.

He pointed to the Australian's predecessor Whiting and the relationship he had with colleague Herbie Blash, which he feels helped when it came to the big decisions and being able to cope with all the responsibilities the race director has.

"If the FIA and F1 want Michael Masi to stay – and if he wants to stay – he's clearly only got one life left hasn't he?" he added.

"I don't know if that's tenable. But as Johnny said, who do you replace him with? Be careful what you wish for, I would say.

"What I absolutely know for sure is changing Michael Masi will not solve the problem. This is way too big of a job for one person, to handle all this for 23 races all over the world.

"Back in the day with Charlie and Herbie… Herbie was effectively the race director until Charlie got back from the starting rostrum down near the grid. They had it all under control.

"But it's just growing exponentially so Masi, if he stays, needs a lot of support around him and I suspect that's what they're looking at."

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