The FIA's new President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has announced an “in-depth reform” into the organisation of refereeing in Formula 1, which sees Michael Masi leave his the position of race director.
Sulayem has announced that a trio will replace the Australian. Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, who have recently worked in the World Endurance Championship and DTM respectively, will alternate the Race Director role. They will be assisted by Herbie Blash, who has long worked with the late Charlie Whiting.
Michael Masi, who stepped in as Formula 1 race director following Charlie Whiting's tragic death in 2019, will be offered a new position within the FIA.
“I presented this complete plan to the members of the World Motor Sport Council and the Senate who gave their full support,” said Ben Sulayem. With this plan, FIA opens the way for a new step forward in Formula 1 refereeing. Without the referees, there is no sport. Respect and support of the referees is in the essence of the FIA.
“That is why these structural changes are crucial in a context of strong development and the legitimate expectations of drivers, teams, manufacturers, organizers, and of course, the fans.
“I warmly thank all those who contributed to this reform. These changes will enable us to start the 2022 Formula 1 season in the best conditions, and our sport will be even more loved and respected," he added.
Along with the restructuring of race direction, Ben Sulayem has also revealed that a new Virtual Race Control Room will be created which will be similar to the Video Assistance Referee (VAR) in football.
“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," Sulayem concluded.