Michael Masi cannot continue as Formula One’s race director because he ‘has done much damage’ and trust has ‘utterly evaporated’ in his judgement, believes former race driver Johnny Herbert.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is to sit down with Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the new ruler of the sport, on Friday to discuss the farcical conclusion to last season in a meeting that will go a long way to deciding Lewis Hamilton’s future.
Wolff is to call for Masi, whose decision making in Abu Dhabi cost Hamilton a record eighth world title, to be axed from his role and Herbert feels there is no way back for the 42-year-old.
‘I think he has done too much damage to Formula 1 and I think because of the position that he’s in, we have got to have trust,’ Herbert told Sky F1.
‘I think that trust has completely and utterly evaporated.’
Mercedes will demand that Michael Masi is sacked over the lapped cars call in Abu Dhabi
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff (left) will speak to new F1 ruler Mohammed Ben Sulayem (right) to discuss the farcical conclusion to last season on Friday – with Masi’s future on the agenda
Since losing out on the title on the last lap to Red Bull rival Max Verstappen, Hamilton, 37, has declined to commit to seeing out the remainder of his two-year contract with Mercedes, which is worth in the region of £70million.
Mercedes previously withdrew their legal action against the governing FIA, believing they had no chance of winning an appeal on the basis it would require the FIA to overturn their own stewards at further great damage to the sport.
But Mercedes, the 2021 constructors’ champions, demanded the thorough investigation that is currently being carried out to repair F1’s integrity following the debacle in Abu Dhabi.
Sportsmail exclusively reported on Wednesday that sources indicate Masi’s sacking is a key requirement for Mercedes, though they have denied that his departure is a quid pro quo to Hamilton staying on.
Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton is likely to carry on but the outcome of this meeting is crucial
A source told Sportsmail: ‘The Abu Dhabi matter is the first issue on the new president’s agenda. He wants to come up with a response.
‘The deadline is the World Motor Sport Council meeting on February 3 – but there may be news before then, such is the urgency of this.’
Friday’s meeting is believed to be key in establishing Hamilton’s future but hopes of a swift resolution to the investigation seem faint.
Hamilton is to be made to wait until March 18 – just two days before the start of the new season in Bahrain – to hear the result into how he lost the world title in Abu Dhabi.
The FIA said: ‘Following the decision of the World Motor Sport Council in Paris on December 15, 2021, the FIA has started the detailed analysis of the events of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
‘The FIA president has launched a consultation with the all F1 teams on various issues, including this one.
Former racing driver Johnny Herbert (right) feels there is no longer trust in Masi in his position
Max Verstappen (right) overtook Hamilton on the last lap after a controversial safety car call
‘On January 19, an item on the agenda of the Sporting Advisory Committee will be dedicated to the use of the safety car.
‘The following stage will be a shared discussion with all F1 drivers.
‘The outcome of the detailed analysis will be presented to the F1 Commission and the final decision will be announced at the World Motor Council in Bahrain on March 18.’
Herbert’s fellow Sky F1 pundit Martin Brundle believes ditching Masi does not ‘solve the problem’ as he pushes for greater reform.
Brundle said: ‘This is way too big of a job for one person to handle this in a 23-race season, it’s only going to grow.
‘Masi, if he stays, needs a lot of support around him and I suspect that is what they’re looking at at the moment.’