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Alonso hopes Masi exit wasn’t caused by Abu Dhabi F1 fallout

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
2 min read

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Alpine driver Fernando Alonso says he hopes the controversial events of last year’s Formula 1 season finale in Abu Dhabi weren’t a deciding factor in race director Michael Masi being replaced.

Masi’s handling of the late-race safety car restart that ultimately changed the outcome of the 2021 title race at Yas Marina has been a hot topic of discussion all throughout the off-season, and an FIA review into the events of the Abu Dhabi GP was eventually parlayed into Masi exiting his role.

F1 will now have a pair of rotating race directors in Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich, while a new virtual race control room has also been added as part of a wider revamp of F1 race officiating.

This has been overseen by new FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who took over the role from the retiring Jean Todt late last year.

Two-time F1 champion Alonso was one of the most vocal critics of how grand prix races are officiated in 2021, and while his biggest gripe seemed to be with the stewards and what they elected to investigate and either penalise or not, he also at one point described Masi as “too soft” and lamented a perceived lack of strict authority from race control.

When asked during the Alpine F1 2022 launch what he made of the changes to the race direction structure, Alonso said: “I mean… the new president obviously wanted to make sure that everything was in place, as I said also a couple of times I like Mohammed, I like the approach he has.

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“So if he thinks that we needed some new ideas there, it’s for the good for everyone, so I’m happy with that.

“On the whole theme of Abu Dhabi, maybe I have a different opinion, I don’t think that there was anything wrong there.

“I don’t think that they changed it [the race control structure] because of Abu Dhabi, or I hope not.”

The race direction revamp was welcomed by the aggrieved parties of the Abu Dhabi GP – Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton.

And Alonso’s Alpine team-mate Esteban Ocon has also emerged among those outwardly satisfied with the reform.

“If the rules can be followed the whole time, and be more consistent, I’m very pleased,” Ocon said.

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