Michael Masi removed as F1 race director after Abu Dhabi investigation

Michael Masi has been removed from his position as F1 race director after the investigation into his handling of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December.

Masi botched the finish of the title decider between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton last year. The race was settled by a one-lap sprint, which saw Verstappen pass Hamilton to win the title after the safety car restart rules were incorrectly applied by Masi.

Masi created that last-lap showdown when he only let a certain amount of lapped cars overtake Hamilton, moving Verstappen right up behind him on brand new tires, before restarting the race one lap before the regulations said he was supposed to in that situation.

The decision is effectively an admission by the FIA that the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix should not have been restarted in the way it was.

One contentious point with Masi's handling of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was how he appeared overwhelmed and inundated with messages from Mercedes and Red Bull. The FIA has confirmed that teams will no longer be able to send messages directly to the race director, which will now presumably be handled by Blash in his new role.

They will be assisted by a virtual race control room the FIA has likened to the controversial Virtual Assistant Referee (VAR) system in football. This will be located outside the F1 circuit and will work in real-time connection with the F1 race director to apply the sporting regulations "using the most modern technological tools".