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Mohammed ben Sulayem and Stefano Domenicali

FIA president contemplates the possibility of Masi’s comeback

Will Masi return after the Abu Dhabi 2021 controversy?

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FIA President Mohammed ben Sulayem has expressed openness to the possibility of Michael Masi returning to the organisation in the future.

Ex FIA F1 race director Michael Masi in Australia
Michael Masi of Australia during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit on March 30, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Image Credit: Qian Jun/MB Media/Getty Images)

Masi, who served as F1 Race Director from 2019 to 2021, left his position following the controversial conclusion of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix title battle between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. Verstappen overtook Hamilton on the final lap after a Safety Car restart that allowed only lapped cars between the two contenders to unlap themselves.

An FIA investigation attributed the disputable ending to “human error,” leading to Masi’s resignation. Subsequently, Ben Sulayem was elected as the FIA president. Despite the tumultuous events and criticism Masi faced, Ben Sulayem believes the door is open to his potential return.

“I always apologise, but I cannot apologise for something which was done before my time,” explained ben Sulayem, according to the Press Association.

The former race director faced considerable challenges in the aftermath of the Abu Dhabi 2021 drama, described by ben Sulayem as going through “hell.” In the wake of his departure, Masi assumed the role of Chairman of the Supercars Commission in Australia and returned to the F1 paddock earlier this season in Melbourne.

Verstappen in Abu Dhabi 2021
Max Verstappen, NDL, Red Bull Racing, celebration during the Grand Prix Formula 1 of Abu Dhabi, at Yas Marina Circuit on December 12, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Image Credit: Cristiano Barni ATPImages/Getty Images) 
In which position would Masi return to the FIA?

Even considering the controversial decision that led to Masi’s dismissal, ben Sulayem disclosed that a potential return to Formula 1 for Masi has not been entirely ruled out. The FIA president acknowledged the possibility of reinstating Masi if a suitable opportunity arose, emphasising the ongoing consideration of such a prospect.

“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.

“I even had people threatening me to kill me because I had the power to change it [the result].

“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.”

Time will tell if Michael Masi will return to Formula 1 after everything that has happened.

Feature Image Credit: Dan Istitene – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

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