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FIA to appoint new F1 sporting director to oversee regulations

The FIA will appoint a new Formula 1 sporting director to oversee the regulations in the wake of the Abu Dhabi controversy at the end of last season.

Michael Masi, Race Director

Michael Masi, Race Director

Motorsport Images

On Saturday, the FIA released an executive summary of its findings from the investigation into the Abu Dhabi finale after the last-lap restart sparked protests from Mercedes following Lewis Hamilton’s defeat to Max Verstappen.

FIA race director Michael Masi failed to implement at least two articles of the sporting regulations, but the investigation found this was due to “human error” and that he acted in “good faith”.

Plans to restructure the FIA’s F1 operations have already been announced, including the appointment of two race directors, Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich, who will share the role through the 2022 season following Masi’s axing.

Both will enjoy greater support after the FIA acknowledged in the report that the duties of the race director had accumulated through the years.

Herbie Blash, the long serving deputy to the late Charlie Whiting, will be a senior advisor, while a new virtual race control room will also be used.

But to complete the new structure, the FIA report announced that “a new F1 sporting director will be recruited”, followed by a note saying “process finalised”.

The sporting director role will be appointed as a position within the FIA, which serves as F1’s regulator, and will oversee the writing of the sporting and technical regulations.

The safety car and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

The safety car and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Currently, the regulations are chiefly written by the race director, pointing to the accumulation of duties that was cited in the report.

No appointment has been made for the new role, but the steps that will be taken to recruit someone have been approved.

Further support is also set to be provided for similar matters by “an additional senior regulatory legal counsel”, which will function both during race weekends and throughout the year on wider F1 sporting matters.

The report also noted the need to improve communications between the FIA’s office in Geneva and its track operations, as well as between F1’s sporting and technical departments, which had not been aided by higher staff turnover due to consultancy agreements reducing from three years to one year.

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