Lewis Hamilton is ‘astonished’ by Mohammed ben Sulayem’s suggestion that controversial race director Michael Masi could make a return but sources claim the F1 supremo ‘simply aims to restore the FIA to its rightful position’
- Mohammed ben Sulayem refused to rule out a return to F1 for Michael Masi
- Masi was axed as race director after a controversial finish to the 2021 season
- His decision to allow five cars to un-lap themselves saw Lewis Hamilton lose
- The Mercedes driver has reacted angrily to Ben Sulayem’s comments
Lewis Hamilton has reacted angrily to FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem’s revelation in Sportsmail on Saturday that there may be a way back for sacked race director Michael Masi.
Masi was fired from his Formula One post in February after being held responsible for Hamilton missing out on an eighth world title in Abu Dhabi last year — a dismissal that represented a victory for Mercedes.
But in his first interview since taking up the leadership of world motor sport’s governing body, Ben Sulayem said: ‘Michael is there and we might use him. We are open to everything.’
Mohammed ben Sulayem (left) revealed that Michael Masi (right) could return to Formula One
Lewis Hamilton has reacted angrily to the revelation that Masi could make a return to F1
Sportsmail understands from a team insider that Hamilton and his nearest advisers were ‘astonished’ to read the comments and spoke about the situation via urgent phone messages after the story broke.
Hamilton’s Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was also furious and made his strong opposition to Masi’s rehabilitation known internally.
However, somebody close to the scene told Sportsmail that Ben Sulayem ‘does not want a fight’ but ‘is simply aiming to restore the FIA to its rightful position, nothing more or less.’
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was also furious and made his strong opposition known
Traditionally, the FIA have been one-third of the troika that runs Formula One, alongside the 10 teams and Formula One Management. The FIA draw up the rules and run the races.
These three elements, fighting for their own interests as much as the good of the sport, have often been willing to take out each other’s eyeballs with toothpicks in internecine wrangling.
A source said: ‘Over the last few years the FIA has been marginalised and Ben Sulayem wants to return it to its old role. He doesn’t want anything himself, financially or in any other way. He maybe feels that Toto has got a little ahead of himself. It’s not up to Toto to run Formula One.’
Ben Sulayem, a 60-year-old former rally driver from Dubai, has kept in occasional dialogue with Masi — who remains on the FIA payroll and is keen to return to Formula One.
Ben Sulayem has kept in occasional dialogue with Masi — who remains on the FIA payroll
Mercedes declined to comment publicly on Ben Sulayem’s comments, pretending that the interview had not registered on their psyche.
Another issue Ben Sulayem brought up was jewellery being worn in the cockpit. Hamilton is the most obvious exponent of the practice and Mercedes sources indicated the Briton would not back down in his desire to wear a nose stud despite the FIA edict.
He faces a fine and accumulating points on his racing licence if he drives with the stud in Monaco at the end of the month, when his exemption to have it removed will have run out.