The FIA has identified how it will fill three mandatory senior officiating roles in the Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix, following the shock death of Charlie Whiting.
F1’s sporting regulations require the FIA to nominate a race director and permanent starter for each grand prix, both of which must be present at the start of the event, and a safety delegate.
With Whiting due to hold all three positions prior to his passing on the eve of the grand prix weekend, the governing body has had to reorganise its set-up.
It has named Michael Masi, one of two deputy race directors, in all three positions.
Masi is a former Supercars official who worked as Whiting’s deputy at several grands prix last year.
As well as continuing that arrangement for 2019, alongside fellow deputy Scot Elkins, Masi accepted the role of Formula 2 and Formula 3 race director for this season.
Masi’s assumption of the race director duties places him in charge of the officials and the management of the Australian GP.
A look back on the extraordinary career of Charlie Whiting, who has passed away at the age of 66
A man who has left an indelible mark on the history of motorsport and F1 pic.twitter.com/SB8vdGQOkR
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 14, 2019
This includes deciding whether to suspend any of the sessions, controlling the use of the safety car, and referring incidents to the stewards.
As permanent starter, he will be responsible for controlling the lights that signal the start of the grand prix.
His safety delegate duties include having final say on all safety matters, from changing the pitlane speed limit to ensuring car, driver and circuit safety regulations are adhered to.
Whiting would have completed other elements of that role, including extensive pre-weekend circuit checks, before his death.
Shuffling Masi into the main race director role for the weekend means his responsibilities as deputy race director will need to be covered, but how this will be done has not been communicated by the FIA.
Those duties include being in charge of race control for the grid, formation lap, start and opening laps – including making calls on red flags and safety cars during this period – while the race director starts the grand prix.
WITH AUTOSPORT/SCOTT MITCHELL