Mercedes 'astonished' as FIA President 'open' to Masi F1 return

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Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton are reportedly "astonished" at a suggestion Michael Masi could return to Formula 1 in the future.

The former FIA race director was removed from the role before this season over his handling of a Safety Car period during last year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that ultimately allowed Max Verstappen to pass Hamilton and win the championship on the final lap.

Emotions about that moment remain high with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff calling Masi a "liability" just last month.

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And now FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has risked causing a new rift with Mercedes and Hamilton by claiming the Australian could yet make a comeback.

"I didn’t get rid of Michael," he said speaking to Sportsmail. "He had a personal overload as safety delegate as well as race director. He made a mistake. It is not as if we said it is the end of Masi with the FIA.

“I don’t do that sort of thing. Even people who didn’t vote for me, I embrace. We don’t think of individuals. We think of the operation itself.

"I don’t know Michael very well. The decision [to remove him] was made by the World Council. It was human error on Michael’s part [in Abu Dhabi].

“I spoke to him a few days ago. I have no personal issue. I don’t hate anyone. Michael is there and we might use him.

"I didn’t say we were getting rid of him. I said we might use him. He may be in a good place to use. We are open to everything."

F1 Sulayem

In the fallout from Abu Dhabi, Ben Sulayem oversaw a restructuring of the race management system in F1, including the introduction of a remote Race Control to assist those at the circuit.

And the former Emirati rally driver isn't ruling out further changes in the future.

"Our race structure was wrong organizationally," he added. "And though we have brought in two new race directors, I wouldn’t say we have got it all right yet. We needed to clean the stables.

"It’s not like going to a supermarket and asking for some more stewards. You need firm and fair people, tolerant people.

"I am thinking, for example, of bringing in rally co-drivers, who have plenty of multi-tasking skills that are required and training them up.

"We need a recruitment drive. This lack of people in the FIA needs to be addressed. I would like to see a minimum of three race directors, ideally by the beginning of next year."