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FIA president hints at Michael Masi return – as Hamilton faces Monaco fine!

FIA hint at sensational u-turn over controversial race director, Hamilton given 'grace period' to remove jewellery

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FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has hinted in an interview with the Mail that controversial former Race Director could return to the FIA. Ben Sulayem also confirmed that Hamilton must remove all jewellery ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix. 

Masi according to the Mail has returned to his Australian home, while a new role within the FIA is negotiated. Revealing his thoughts on Masi’s handling of the 2021 season,Ben  Sulayem said 

“I didn’t get rid of Michael. He had a personal overload (of work) – safety delegate as well as race director. He made a mistake. It is not as if we said it is the end of Masi with the FIA”.

‘I don’t do that sort of thing. Even people who didn’t vote for me, I embrace. We don’t think of individuals. We think of the operation itself.

‘I don’t know Michael very well. The decision (to sack him as race director) was made by the World Council. It was human error on Michael’s part.’

Controversial ex Race Director Michael Masi could soon return to the grid (Image Credit: The Times

Masi’s handling of last season’s finale in Abu Dhabi has become infamous. Ben Sulayem hinting at Masi making a mistake are in stark contrast to the thoughts of Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff. Wolff called Masi a “liability“, stating that Masi believes he did nothing wrong.

Ben Sulayem then dropped the bombshell that Masi could return to the F1 grid.  This move will prove highly controversial, should it happen. Ben Sulayem has called for three Race Directors from 2023. The FIA president did not confirm if Masi would be in a Race Director role, but did state that the role was highly specialised, and “we need a recruitment drive”. 

‘I spoke to him two days ago, I have no personal issue (with him). I don’t hate anyone. 

‘Michael is there and we might use him. I didn’t say we were getting rid of him. I said we might use him. He may be in a good place to use. We are open to everything.

‘Our race structure was wrong organisationally. And though we have brought in two new race directors, I wouldn’t say we have got it all right yet. We need to clean the stables.

‘It’s not like going to a supermarket and asking for some more stewards. You need firm and fair people, tolerant people. I am thinking, for example, of bringing in rally co-drivers, who have plenty of multi-tasking skills that are required and training them up. We need a recruitment drive.

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‘This lack of people in the FIA needs to be addressed. I would like to see a minimum of three race directors, ideally by the beginning of next year.’

Lewis Hamilton must remove all jewellery ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix (Image Credit Sky Sports)

FIA President Ben Sulayem confirmed that fines will be issued to drivers who wear jewellery in Monaco. Hamilton’s nose piercing requires surgical removal. A grace period of two races was given for this to be done. Hamilton faces a fine if he does not comply. Ben Sulayem has called on Hamilton to be a “role model” for young drivers and not wear jewellery in Monaco: 

‘People say I did what Lewis and Toto wanted by removing Michael Masi. I mean, I do that for them and then I have it in for them – it doesn’t make sense. Lewis saw a doctor in Miami to discuss the jewellery issue – and, guess what, he was a British doctor. I am simply saying the rules are there. It’s not for me to decide the merits of the science – it’s for the medics. 

‘I would like Lewis to be a role model, an ambassador, to send the right message to all the young drivers to prevent a tragedy. We should be using him in that good cause.’

‘I love jewellery,’ adds Ben Sulayem. ‘I absolutely love it. But in the car there can be no choice. People say they (the rules) haven’t been implemented before. Don’t ask me why not. People can ask the old regime why that is the case.’

What if Hamilton defies the rule in Monaco? ‘That’s up to him. There are fines that apply. It’s like if someone speeds on the roads – you can’t stop them doing it but they get fined, even if it was accidental.

‘You can’t let people off because they are your friends. There has to be one rule for all, and that’s that’

 

Feature Image Credit: Autosport

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