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Todt says Michael Masi was ’impeccable’ F1 official

"I wanted a detailed analysis to be made of everything"

By GMM

15 December 2023 - 09:16
Todt says Michael Masi was 'impecca

Jean Todt has hinted that F1’s governing body should reconsider bringing highly controversial former race director Michael Masi back to the sport.

A few days ago, former FIA president Todt offered words of support for Felipe Massa, who is attempting to have the results of the 2008 world championship overturned as a result of new revelations in the ’crashgate’ scandal.

"There is no doubt that the Singapore GP was rigged and should have been cancelled," Todt, whose son Nicholas was then Ferrari driver Massa’s manager, told La Stampa.

The Massa legal action, however, has triggered suggestions that Formula 1 should also revisit the outcome of the 2021 season finale in Abu Dhabi - which crowned Max Verstappen champion over Lewis Hamilton and ultimately cost Masi his job.

At the end of November, Todt’s successor as FIA president, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, said he could not apologise for the contested decision-making in 2021 because it was "before my time".

"Ok, I will do the apology, but I will bring Michael Masi again," Ben Sulayem told the Guardian. "The poor guy is a person who has been attacked and abused.

"If I see there is an opportunity that the FIA needs, and Michael Masi is the right person, I will bring him."

Todt, now 77, gave an interview to France’s L’Equipe a few days ago where he admitted he has several issues with the new FIA president, including his "character".

But on the Masi issue, Todt and Ben Sulayem seem to agree.

Abu Dhabi 2021 marked the transition in FIA leadership, with Todt insisting he was "not informed of the decisions subsequently taken by my successor" - namely, Masi’s ousting.

"I didn’t fire him," the Frenchman clarifies. "I wanted a detailed analysis to be made of everything that had happened and for everything to be recorded in a report.

"In that race, he made decisions together with his team - decisions that I could only respect," Todt said. "There are images of me on the phone answering calls from Toto Wolff and Christian Horner to tell them that only the stewards make decisions.

"At first Mercedes wanted to appeal against this decision, but before my farewell Michael Masi had done an impeccable job over the years," he added.

The ultimate question now is whether the new FIA president will follow through with his hint about bringing Masi back to Formula 1.

"I don’t know if Michael will return sooner or later," Todt said. "The new president can do what he wants.

"After his (Masi’s) departure, the entire organisation was turned upside down. I can only say that Michael is an excellent professional. Losing a championship in the last race is something that can happen."

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