Behind the scenes at F1 - Who's Michael Masi?

31-03-2020 20:33
by GPblog.com
F1 News
Behind the scenes at F1 - Who's Michael Masi?

Michael Masi is a name we have heard and seen coming up many times since the start of the 2019 season. The man has been involved in motorsport for a long time, but only for a short time in Formula 1. Charlie Whiting, the famous race leader suddenly died during the Australian Grand Prix weekend last year, and Michael Masi, his intended successor, was then put in the foreground faster than intended, but who is he?

Supercars

Michael Masi was born in Australia in the late 1970s and very little is known about his earlier years. In fact, relatively little is known about his person until he stepped into motorsport. The description 'low-profile' does suit him, as he was actually an unknown name until the end of 2018. Certainly within Formula 1, because before that he was only active in another racing class.

Masi was responsible for the Supercars until late 2018, where he fulfilled the role of deputy race leader. He then switched to Formula 1 and immediately at the first race in 2019 he was appointed race leader. Before Whiting's death there was speculation that Masi would take on the role of race leader in Formula 1, which turned out afterwards.

However, at first the approach was a bit different, because Masi would take the role of race leader for Formula 2 and Formula 3 in 2019. He would then sit next to Charlie Whiting as deputy race leader. This of course to gain experience, so he would be ready to take over if Whiting thought he was suitable for it.

Enough experience

Now we are more than a year further and we have seen many races under his leadership. That went well over the whole season, so Masi turned out to be the right choice for the role of race leader. Of course it helps that he has built up a lot of experience in the Supercars series, which has made him a suitable race leader in Formula 1.

The FIA appoints race leaders and his performance in the Supercar class caught the attention of the organisation, so the choice fell on him to attract him to the Formula classes. This was not an unknown territory for Masi, since he was involved in the Chinese Grand Prix in 2018 in the role of steward, who watched in the background with the race leader.

After his unexpected appointment, his performance would be watched until the summer break to evaluate it afterwards. This showed that everyone was satisfied, because in July 2019 it was announced that Masi would take on this role until the end of the season. For the time being Masi will stay on as race leader.

Changes

Michael Masi may play a crucial role especially in the background, but his influence is visible on the track. The call to let the F1 drivers race a bit more freely was already applied to some extent by Whiting, but under Masi's wings the drivers have been given even more freedom. Of course everyone is always bound by fixed rules to keep the game fair, but the hard racing is allowed a bit more.

Masi has also proven himself as someone who knows how to keep his head cool under pressure. After all, the year 2019 saw a lot of incidents and after years of absence the black and white flag was dusted off again. This flag indicates that the offense of the driver in question has been seen and that a penalty will follow repeatedly. With this the race management allows a bit more, but it has to stay that way if there are no consequences.

Just the reintroduction of this flag says enough about Masi's attitude. "Let them race," he said literally in an interview last year. There are limits to that too, but it may be a bit looser as it turns out. Now Masi is still quite anonymous as a person, it is clear that his previous experience helps him and that he had a great season in 2019.

Time for a Wiki page

Many people who hold an important position in Formula 1, or have done so, have their own Wikipedia page. Strikingly enough Michael Masi still doesn't have such a page after one year as race leader of the king's class. It makes him a quiet but important player and actually he has earned such a page.

Michael Masi will rejoin as match leader when the season starts and although Charlie Whiting cannot be replaced, it can be said that Masi is doing very well.

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