Formula 1 will have two permanent Race Directors in 2022, with Michael Masi ousted from his role as part of the fallout from the controversial 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Australian, who served as the understudy to long-term Race Director Charlie Whiting, stepped up to the main role following the tragic passing of Whiting on the eve of the 2019 season.
Just three years later, Masi is out. President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has confirmed that Masi will no longer serve as the FIA Race Director with immediate effect, and is to be replaced by Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas – both of whom will share responsibilities on alternating weekends.
While Wittich and Freitas are new permanent appointees in the F1 world, they are vastly experienced in race governance. Adding to their experience will be the wisdom of a returning name, as Herbie Blash will serve as a permanent Senior Advisor for Wittich and Freitas.
Wittich's background as a Race Director stems mostly from Germany's DTM series and Formula E, but he was already scheduled to increase his F1 involvement for 2022.
Wittich served as DTM's full-time Race Director in 2021 and was set for a move to become Deputy Race Director under Masi in Formula 1, dovetailing his responsibilities alongside the main role in Formula 2 and Formula 3.
Wittich will now take the helm for half of 2022's Grands Prix weekends, in what is sure to be a baptism of fire for the German.
Eduardo Freitas, who takes charge of the rest of the Grand Prix calendar, is a seasoned hand with more than 20 years of experience as an FIA Race Director.
First assuming the role in 2002 for the FIA's GT Championship and the European Touring Car Championship, Freitas became the Race Director for the FIA's premier sportscar series, the World Endurance Championship – the responsibilities for which include the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours.
Freitas has also served as Race Director for the European and American Le Mans Series, and has dabbled with F1 as back-up for Masi on a few occasions.
The 73-year-old Herbie Blash scarcely needs an introduction, as Whiting's long-term Deputy Race Director returns from semi-retirement to act as a permanent Senior Advisor for Freitas and Wittich.
Blash, a former team boss at Brabham, became the Deputy Race Director for the FIA in 1995 – a role he relished for the next 21 years as he and Whiting formed a famous double-act of race authority.
Blash left the role in 2016, choosing to step down and become a consultant for Yamaha motorbikes.
For 2022, the FIA are bringing his immense experience and wisdom back into play to serve as reinforcement for the two leading men.
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