Michael Masi, Singapore, 2019

Masi ‘couldn’t have got through’ first year as F1 race director without staff support

2019 F1 season

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FIA race director Michael Masi says he needed the support of many people to get through his first year as Formula 1 race director.

Masi was unexpectedly promoted to the role following the shock death of Charlie Whiting on the eve of the opening race of last year in Australia.

“What happened in Melbourne was a hugely sad, unfortunate set of circumstances on a number of levels,” said Masi in response to a question from RaceFans. “I’ve been asked a couple of times of late what my toughest event of the year was and by far it was Melbourne.”

The support of those around him proved vital as he took over a large part of Whiting’s far-reaching responsibilities over the day-to-day running of F1 race weekends.

“Overall I couldn’t have got through this year without the team, the people I have immediately around me at the FIA and the support that I received there,” he said. “[Also] our partners at F1 Group and the way that everyone there, Chase [Carey, F1 CEO] down to all the operational guys, be it onboard cameras, timing, whoever, have all supported and assisted me.

“And importantly, there’s 20 guys driving cars and 10 teams that, all of them, have embraced, supported and assisted me. And without everyone I couldn’t have got through this year. That’s the simple part.”

Masi initially took over the role on an interim basis but remained in place for the entire season.

“I’m happy with the job that I’ve done because, for me, I’ve done the best that I could do,” he said. “And I’ve learned a huge amount, not just event to event, but from hour to hour at each event.

“We all understand and agree it’s highly complex industry that we’re in. But having said that it’s an industry I love, that I enjoy. And I as I said I couldn’t be more thankful for the support that everyone has given me, including [the media].

“There’s always going to be good and bad moments with everything and you’re only as good as the last decision you make in any role.”

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18 comments on “Masi ‘couldn’t have got through’ first year as F1 race director without staff support”

  1. The funny thing is I still don’t know how his voice sounds like, i.e., I still yet to hear him speak.

    1. @jerejj Well here’s a link of him speaking in an interview about F1 on track rules late last year.

      1. @warner16 Thank you for the link. The interview is, of course, from Singapore-Thursday, but uploaded on YT only last month, but now I know how his voice sounds like, and not precisely how I had tried to guess it might, but not hugely off either.

        1. @jerejj You’re welcome for that. It sure was from Singapore with all the drivers mentioning the fairness of racing from the Italian GP, and of course he does have a strong Aussie accent after all.

    2. ‘I’m’ still

    3. Regardless of what he sounds like the words out of his mouth are pure nonsense. He is not fit for the role

  2. He made a mess of his first year with ‘innovations’ which were unhelpful and in come cases, such as the damaged Ferrari of Leclerc, positively dangerous.

    If his contract is extended to 2020 and beyond I hope his ‘touch’ becomes more assured, less subject to his helpers tugging him into their pet project, and while helping the racing be as good as it can avoid odd decisions such as three faults before being called out on exceeding track limits are binned.

    No one could fill Charlie Whitings shoes straight away but at least Masi should try to follow his careful approach and change things when they are well thought through and tested. The Race Director is not a star who needs flashy ideas but a pillar on which the racing depends.

    1. 100% agree with this assessment.

    2. I reckon Whitings job should have been restructured. Losing Charlie only showed how complex and hard his job was. Masi was almost responsible for a few tragedies, there were a few near misses like Peroni.
      I’m not surprised Masi had to lean on other people, regardless his role is too important for Masi, he has to step up or split the job.

    3. Charlie Whiting wasn’t known for thinking things through before changing the rules, sometime mid-season. He created a complete mess of qualifying for a couple of races and had to revert to the previous system. Then we had the wireless ban, that left everyone in the dark as to what was happening on track. That great idea was also binned.

      There was always the question as to who Whiting was working for – the FIA or Bernie. Nobody knew for sure.

      Masi has also attempted to change the rules during the season. What’s with the flag waving?

      1. @Jon Bee The qualifying mess wasn’t Charlie’s idea – Bernie persuaded all the teams to agree to it, then declined to change his stance after the bosses realised just how bad it was in practise (the teams eventually agreed unanimouis reversal in time for race three). Charlie was trying to make the best he could out of that mess. The radio ban was imposed by the FIA leadership; although I will admit the interpretation was poor, I also don’t think the idea was workable unless the FIA consented to change the equipment – something that wouldn’t happen because some of the smaller teams regarded two-way radio as a safety feature. (The FIA could have forced it but didn’t want the scandal).

        Whiting was always working for the FIA. However, during the Max Mosley years, it made no difference if one was working for the FIA or Bernie, because Max and Bernie worked hand-in-glove. Even when they were arguing (for their ideologies weren’t identical), they were doing so from a similar enough perspective that it had no effect on race direction style. Only in the Jean Todt years was it apparent that Charlie was working for the FIA (though he was friends with Bernie from way back, when Bernie had been his boss at Brabham).

  3. To have been thrown in at the deep end as he was, I think Masi did a pretty reasonable job.

    Given time, as in this year, I believe he’ll grow in confidence and be more assured when making decisions. Hopefully the stewards this year will make more consistent calls and not leave him hung out to try and explain their rationale.

    Good luck to him. He had enormous boots to fill and I doubt anyone would have done any better.

  4. Considering the sudden circumstances I think he did okay. Far from perfect but hopefully there will be improvements.

    1. It’s a good point. No one really saw it coming. It’s not like Charlie said it was his last season before retirement, hence giving time to mentor a successor. I don’t think it fully excuses some of the odd decisions such as the black and white flag fiasco, but let’s hope for better next year.

  5. When it takes a whole race to review a incident and rules are inconsistently followed like they are, it’s incompetence, simple as.

    Sure, Masi just refers incidents to the stewards, but he is still race director and ultimately responsible for procedures and format.

    1. You are absolutely correct, incompetence is the best word to describe it, for both Masi and Whiting. Their only consistancy was at being bad(and inconsistent)

    2. @balue It sometimes took whole races to review incidents in the Whiting era. The difference was that the first call on it – early or late – would also be the final one.

  6. John Richards (@legardforpresident)
    8th January 2020, 9:31

    I’m sorry, but why are we looking at Charlie through rose coloured glasses and comparing Masi unfavourably to him? Charlie was a veteran who also made some questionable decisions (Japan 2014 and the lack of a full SC?), are we just going to pretend that didn’t happen?

    Everyone quit your bickering nonsense because most of you’ll just sit on your armchairs and become keyboard warriors for no reason. Masi will learn as does any level headed human being. Are we all perfect? No.

    Everyone’s quick to pinpoint flaws in the program but no one realises that the biggest villains are the teams with the spending power. Prove me wrong, I don’t care.

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