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Martin Brundle

Brundle: If Masi wants to continue, things must change

Martin Brundle believes that the FIA must do some introspective thinking this winter if Michael Masi is to continue as the sport's Race Director.

Masi
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To news overview © RN365/Michael Potts

Martin Brundle has said that changes are needed in how Formula 1 is governed if the FIA are to continue with Michael Masi as their Race Director.

Masi has just finished his third season as the FIA's Race Director and Safety Delegate, but it's his role as Race Director that has come into scrutiny following the contentious way the ending of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix title decider was handled.

With Masi enforcing F1's Sporting Regulations, Brundle believes that the Australian is having a tough time filling the boots of his predecessor Charlie Whiting, who died of a pulmonary embolism during the 2019 Australian GP weekend.

In his column for Sky Sports, Brundle wrote that he "doesn't need to make excuses" for Masi, but that there have just been 39 races in 17 months during a pandemic, implying that Masi may be over-stretched in his role.

Recently, Masi flew from Mexico to Doha ahead of the Qatar GP, and also had to fly to Saudi Arabia to evaluate the track's readiness, before flying back again to Jeddah.

"Like Charlie, he's responsible for signing these things off, except we have a lot more races in far-reaching places now," wrote Brundle.

"The FIA is a little rudderless"

Brundle went on to explain that there was a certain element of steeliness to Whiting's approach, and he wasn't afraid to use FIA President Max Mosley as an intimidating threat.

"Charlie W was rightly revered and feared in equal measure, and any sign of a team playing games in any way would quickly see Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley wading in, and then you were in trouble," Brundle wrote.

"Furthermore, Charlie had his ultimate wingman Herbie Blash, a man who had attended more F1 races than anybody else, by his side. They ate together pretty much every evening too; such was their trust and bond.

"Herbie was effectively the Race Director for the first lap or two while Charlie returned from the starter's rostrum in what were usually 15-18 race seasons."

Brundle pointed out that the FIA are currently in a transitionary phase.

"Jean Todt retires shortly after 12 years as President of the FIA, where he has done an incredible amount of work particularly on road safety, it's an all-encompassing role," he added.

"However, while we await a new President and his supporting team, I imagine the FIA is a little rudderless, and certainly not feared by the teams who lived in great trepidation of Mosley and the 'bringing the sport into disrepute' clause."

The influence of Wolff and Horner

Given that Whiting was in his role on a full-time basis from 1997 until his death, Brundle wrote that the teams lived in fear of his experience and unflappability - something that doesn't seem to be the case with Masi.

"Until this year, any correspondence from the pit wall to Race Control was not broadcast, and it's totally unacceptable to hear team bosses and team managers even pre-empting situations and lobbying," Brundle commented.

"They are only doing their jobs, but in earlier days would have been given short shrift by Charlie.

"Toto Wolff's outrageous call to Masi to lobby for no Safety Car for Antonio Giovinazzi's stricken Alfa Romeo in Abu Dhabi, and Christian Horner telling the world seven days earlier how much F1 missed Charlie Whiting because the restart grid in Saudi Arabia felt like a 'Souk negotiation', which didn't age well for him, simply wouldn't have happened before.

"They are super competitive and under pressure people using all the tools available to them, and the power base and direction of communication has totally changed. Those tools need to be more regulated.

"And so, in what should have been one of F1's finest ever moments, instead we had anger and confusion."

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