In Formula 1 an intense underground river flows under public opinion, but signs continue to surface that, at least politically, the shock wave caused by the decisions of Michael Masi that facilitated Max Verstappen’s final victory in the championship is still alive. When the waters rise to the surface, the FIA will have made important decisions for the future of Formula 1. Including the delivery on a platter of Masi’s head at the request of Mercedes.
Although at the moment these are signs, everything indicates that Mercedes does not want to let go of its prey, and Lewis Hamilton acts as part of the clamp. Did the leadership of Daimler resignedly accept the management and the debatable result of the last Grand Prix? Negative, although Mercedes gave up presenting a legal battle. However, the events that have been taking place since then suggest a pact between the institution and the German team. It seems that it is the FIA’s turn to play its part.
Wolff’s firm demand
“I hope that the commission not only proposes words, but that it follows it with actions, and we will hold them accountable for their actions,” declared Toto Wolff seriously and emphatically at the press conference after the resignation of actions due to the resolution of the title. “We cannot continue in a sport that pretends to be sport followed by entertainment and not the other way around, with ad hoc decisions in all areas, whether technical or sporting. And therefore there must be a clear measure before the start of the season so that all drivers, all the teams and the fans understand what is going to work, and what isn’t.” It is clear that the story is not over yet.
In the wake of Mercedes’ resignation in December, the FIA announced that an investigation would be carried out “to achieve significant information and conclusions before the start of the 2022 season.” Last Thursday, it issued a statement in which “a consultation was opened with all the teams on all matters, including the analysis of the events of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.” Thus, next March 19 will be dedicated “to the use of the safety car”. Afterwards, there will be meetings with the pilots. “The result will be presented to the Formula 1 Commission in February and the final decisions will be announced at the World Council in Bharein on March 18.” That is, just before the first grand prize. But he also stuck his leg out: “The president of the FIA, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, has asked the Secretary General for Sport and recently appointed Director of Single-Seaters, Peter Bayer to present proposals to optimize the organization of the FIA structure in Formula for the 2022 season.
an eroded figure
Several factors play against Masi’s continuity. On the one hand, determination against him from Mercedes, whom he holds directly responsible for the decisions that harmed the team. Added to this is the arrival of a new president, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who will need to build credibility and authority in his recently begun mandate. New faces would help it. Masi’s figure has been greatly eroded and already under permanent pressure to direct the grand prizes.
For this reason, far-reaching decisions can be expected from the FIA, both in the management procedures of the Grand Prix and in the structure and human team that execute them. Obviously, the institution needs to review the liquid and random management of the sports regulations, questioned beyond the events in Abu Dhabi. But there is no doubt that a new face at the head of the race management will help to cleanse the current charged atmosphere. doCould, for example, Michael Masi freely make decisions against Mercedes in the race in 2022?
The future of Budkowski and Hamilton
But imagine a solid and iron support of the FIA to Masi, in addition to the creation of a team that supports him in the race. It would be a challenge to Mercedes, certainly, whose position would be interesting to watch in this case. Because the substitution of the Australian, due to his specialization, is not easy either. In recent days there have been several news with its own name in Formula 1. On the one hand, the departure of Otman Szafnauer from Aston Martin, already rumored in the summer, and the surprising departure of Marcin Budkowski from Alpine. Within the inevitable rumors derived from not knowing the final destination of both, it was feasible to speculate with a change of roles and people in both teams. Until the surprising announcement on Friday of a new ‘team manager’ for Aston Martin in the person of Mike Krack, former head of competition at BMW. With what remains floating in the air the fate of Budkowski. Everything indicates that Szafnauer will end up in Alpine but what about the Pole?
Could Budkowski be Formula 1’s next race director? He was already part of the Federation before moving to Renault. The reasons for his departure from Alpine are still unknown, but leaving a growing team suggests a weak position for the Pole or dissatisfaction with Alpine’s management structure. A possible offer from the Federation would offer him continuity in Formula 1 and an escape valve from the French team.
Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton is letting himself be loved by fueling rumors of a possible retirement conditional on the outcome of the FIA investigation. Another way of putting pressure on the institution to later confirm its continuity as a validation of the decisions that are expected. No one imagines Toto Wolff without his star driver in early March, searching for a second sword for newcomer George Russell. Because in this game, perhaps the cards have already been marked played for a long time.