Michael Masi could return to F1 despite 2021 Abu Dhabi finale

Michael Masi could return to a position Formula 1 in the future, says FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

Australian race steward Masi was in the hot seat for the controversial end to the 2021 F1 season, when Max Verstappen overtook Lewis Hamilton on the final lap in Abu Dhabi to win his first world title.

An investigation in the months afterwards blamed “human error” before Masi was sacked, following the botched safety car and lapped cars procedure which opened the door for Verstappen.

Yet Ben Sulayem, who took over as FIA boss five days after that 2021 finale, insists Masi could return to the fold if the right position came up.

“I always apologise, but I cannot apologise for something which was done before my time,” said Ben Sulayem, in a wide-ranging interview. “OK, I will do the apology, but I will bring Michael Masi again. Do you think that is right?

“The poor guy is a person who has been attacked and abused. Michael Masi went through hell. Hell! And if I see there is an opportunity that the FIA needs, and Michael Masi is the right person, I will bring him.”

The Emirati executive also compared Hamilton losing his grip on what would have been a record-breaking eighth world title to the 1966 World Cup final, when England beat West Germany following a goal which was given despite replays showing the ball did not cross the line.

Michael Masi was sacked following the 2021 season finale in Abu Dhabi (PA Wire)
Michael Masi was sacked following the 2021 season finale in Abu Dhabi (PA Wire)

“I even had people threatening me to kill me because I had the power to change it (the Abu Dhabi result),” Ben Sualyem added.

“But I said to them: ‘Sorry, the World Cup of 1966, England against Germany, was that correct? Did they change it? No.’ Did they give it to Germany? Nein.”

Masi said he received death threats following the 2021 finale and has since returned home to Australia following his removal as FIA race director.

He was last summer appointed the independent Chair of the Australian Supercars Commission and was present at the Australian Grand Prix in April.