So, we have come to the end of probably the most unbelievable, frantic, and dramatic Formula 1 season we have ever seen. A season that has seen controversy from beginning to end, a season that has seen Red Bull and Mercedes duking it over every corner of the Earth, and a season which may well shape the course and landscape of Formula 1 for years to come. Here, I outline the three main changes that the FIA must bring about for the next epic chapter of the Formula 1 season.
Change #1: Michael Masi Must Go.
I can see why this might be considered a little reactionary. Still, in my opinion, Michael Masi was always chasing control over this season’s championship and yet never managed to grab the reins of it. I empathize with a man thrust into the role following Charlie Whitling’s sudden death. Sadly, Masi has proven to be pretty much the opposite of his mentor. Whitling was renowned for laying down the law to all teams and drivers, being heard when necessary, and being seen only.
For my money, Masi has been far too central to this season’s (many) controversies, irrespective of whether you’re a Red Bull or Mercedes fan, or a Max fanatic or a Lewis loyalist. Masi has been too weak, and at times, severely incompetent. Look at the shocking Spa spectacle over four laps earlier in the season. Look at his decision to allow Verstappen’s divebombs on Hamilton (twice in Jeddah and once in Brazil) to stand without punishment or allow Hamilton to drive off-track and negate Verstappen’s immaculate move in Abu Dhabi. Truthfully, I could go on and on and on.
The point is this: Michael Masi has not been strong enough and certainly not clear sufficient throughout this season. The Race Director is an overwatch/guardian figure, yet Masi has been arguably the most controversial figure out of anyone. That is not good enough.
Change #2: Remove Direct Access to the Race Director.
As a massive MotoGP fan myself, this rule has always massively surprised me. Why are Team Principals allowed direct access and influence to the Race Director DURING THE RACE on Earth? Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way defending or protecting Michael Masi, but Mr. Horner and Herr Wolff have both been a little short of disgraceful with their petulant protests and moaning at times throughout this season. While I massively respect anyone passionate enough and dedicated to their sport and team on this level, it makes no sense that Team Principals have this level of access.
Take Abu Dhabi, for example, and *that* safety car controversy that ultimately decided the championship. Initially, the race looked on course to end as it arguably should have, according to the rules, behind the safety car. But then, Christian Horner got on his headset and moaned to Masi, who, for some reason, only allowed five of the lapped cars unlapping themselves, bringing Hamilton and Verstappen directly beside each other. Toto Wolff then proceeded to lose his mind at Masi for the entire duration of the last lap, all over the headset. So naturally, this type of absurd spectacle can’t be allowed to continue into 2022.
Change #3: Much, Much Clearer Rules.
This change is another thing that massively gripes me about this year’s Formula 1 season – the rules have had far too many holes in them, or they got unnaturally misinterpreted that they are no longer legitimate. Don’t believe me? Allow me to explain.
Article 48.12 of the rules clearly shows that Michael Masi did not follow the proper restart procedure by only allowing 5 of the lapped cars to overtake the front pack, and keeping the rest, including McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, behind. Masi contradicts his arguments when considering the Eifel Grand Prix in Germany in 2020. The safety car was kept out for a prolonged period when Lando Norris McLaren broke down. Masi was quoted then by Motorsport Week as saying,
“There’s a requirement in the sporting regulations to wave ALL the lapped cars past…between 10 or 11 cars had to un-lap themselves.”
What makes this worse for me is Masi is allowed to override any decisions. All for his overall interpretation of what is best for safety. If this is the case, why even have rules? There is no point in having these rules if the Race Director can override them and then hide behind the justification of what he deems to be in the interest of safety.
So, these are the changes that I believe should have implementations for the beginning of the 2022 season, but I am sure we have not heard the last of some much-needed rule changes wanted by fans and needed by the FIA.
Feature Image Credit Embed from Getty Images