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Who is Michael Masi? Roles of F1 race director explained

Jake Nichol November 6, 2021
F1 Grand Prix of Spain
Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images

Michael Masi is the man responsible for the safe running and operation of every F1 grand prix, but who is Masi? What does he actually do and how long has he held the job?

In his position as FIA F1 race director, Michael Masi is a familiar voice to those watching F1 grands prix.

At the Spanish Grand Prix earlier in the year, F1 introduced a new radio channel.

It broadcast team conversations with Masi during the on-track sessions.

Most notably, this was shown during the British GP when both Red Bull and Mercedes tried to get Masi on-side after the collision between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.

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What does Michael Masi do in F1?

Masi holds multiple titles in his role at the FIA.

As well as race director, Michael Masi is F1 safety delegate, permanent starter and head of F1’s technical department.

He is responsible for starting the grand prix by initiating the start sequence with the five red lights.

Photo by Mario Renzi – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

Should the need arise, Masi is the person tasked with putting out the yellow or red flags in an on-track session.

Masi was responsible for the abandoning of the Belgian Grand Prix earlier in 2021.

He tried to get the race underway.

Masi used the powers given to him to suspend the race clock to try and get a race in.

However, conditions were so bad that the race was abandoned after just a handful of safety car laps.

Masi is also tasked with inspecting circuits.

He was recently in Saudi Arabia looking at the Jeddah Street Circuit as F1 prepares for the first-ever Saudi Arabian GP in December.

When did he start in F1?

Sydney-native Masi first became a race director in the Australian V8 Supercar series.

In 2018, the FIA appointed him to the role of deputy race director for F2 and F3, working under long-time director Charlie Whiting.

Masi was on-site for the 2019 F1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Whiting died overnight in the build-up to the weekend, with Masi taking his position as race director for the race.

Masi was soon confirmed as the Whiting’s successor as F1 race director.

Photo credit should read RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP via Getty Images

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Jake can usually be found writing about or watching anything to do with motorsport – from Formula 1 to NASCAR to British Truck Racing. His work as a motorsport journalist has been published by the likes of Autosport, Motorsport.com and Motorsport News – all highly respected names. Away from racing he is a keen amateur astronomer, podcast listener and enjoys long walks in the park with his three dogs.