Michael Masi has been dismissed as F1 race director as part of a restructuring of the FIA’s governing body following last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
FIA President Mohammed bin Sulayem announced a series of changes following the investigation into last year’s controversial World Championship finish.
Masi failed to apply the rules correctly in a late safety car period and had a direct impact on the outcome of the title race.
Two men will now alternate in the role, while additional assistance will be provided to officials.
The new race directors will be Eduardo Freitas, who previously played the role in the World Endurance Championship, and Niels Wittich, who did so in the German DTM Touring Car Championship.
Masi will be “offered a new position within the FIA,” said Ben Sulayem.
In addition, as part of a wider restructuring of race management to provide a more serene environment, direct radio communication between teams and the race director will no longer be allowed.
In Abu Dhabi, Masi was pressured by the Mercedes and Red Bull teams to make decisions in their favor. The huge controversy after the race arose because he seemed to follow Red Bull’s suggestions, to the advantage of their driver Max Verstappen over Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
After Masi didn’t apply the rules correctly in two ways — on timed car management and restart timing — Verstappen used his new tires to overtake Hamilton on the old ones and win his first world title.
Before that, Hamilton had dominated the race and was on course for a record eighth championship.
An FIA spokesman said the report on the failures in Abu Dhabi would be released at the season-opening race in Bahrain on March 19.
Teams will still be allowed to ask questions of race management, Ben Sulayem said, “according to well-defined procedures”.
These should be addressed to a new layer of personnel in race control, to keep the pressure directly on the race director.
Freitas and Wittich will be assisted by F1 veteran Herbie Blash, who was deputy race director under former FIA F1 director Charlie Whiting.
Masi assumed the role of race director when Whiting passed away on the eve of the 2019 F1 season.
The FIA will add remote race control that will work in the same way as the video assistant referee in soccer.
Ben Sulayem said he presented the plan to teams at an F1 Commission meeting on Monday, although that was contradicted by insiders who said only a vague outline was given there.
He added that he had received the “full support” of the FIA World Council and Senate.
“With this plan, the FIA is paving the way for a new step forward in Formula One refereeing. Without referees, there is no sport,” he said.
“Respect and support for referees is in the essence of the FIA. That is why these structural changes are crucial in a context of strong development and legitimate expectations from drivers, teams, constructors, organisers and of course the fans.
“These changes will allow us to start the 2022 Formula 1 season in the best possible conditions, and our sport will be even more loved.