Michael Masi has finally broken his silence following last season's controversy in Abu Dhabi and his subsequent exit from the FIA.
The Australian had not spoken publicly since last year's season-ending race at Yas Marina where his decisions during the late safety car period came under heavy scrutiny as they allowed Max Verstappen to clinch his maiden F1 title ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
The FIA replaced Masi as race director at the start of the season, announcing Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas as co-successors, as well as implementing new measures to help the pair, including a VAR-style remote race control room.
Whilst the plan was for Masi to remain a part of F1's governing body, he has now decided to leave and return to Australia.
Masi was thrust into the race director's role in 2019 after the tragic and sudden passing of Charlie Whiting ahead of the Australian Grand Prix that year.
He combined his duties with the safety delegation role, adding to his workload throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a statement issued through Speedcafe.com, Masi said: “It has been a pleasure and honour representing the FIA as the single-seater sporting director and FIA Formula 1 race director and safety delegate since Charlie’s unexpected and tragic passing in Melbourne 2019.
“Having worked on various projects around the world with the Federation and its member clubs for over a decade prior to my appointment, I have now decided to leave the organisation and relocate back to Australia to be closer to my family and friends.
“I am proud to have worked in partnership for many years with the various FIA member clubs, Formula 1 Group, the competitors, promoters and circuit operators and my colleagues and team internally at the FIA.
“I will always treasure these lifelong relationships and friendships that I have developed throughout my journey to date.
“In particular, I am eternally grateful to Herbie Blash and the late Charlie Whiting for identifying me as a future successor in 2018, a role that I was looking forward to shadowing and learning from Charlie for many years prior to his shock passing."
“I also pass on my sincere appreciation for the support and guidance during my tenure of the former FIA president Jean Todt, Stefano Domenicali, and my dedicated FIA single-seater team.
“I extend my appreciation to the tens of thousands of dedicated volunteers and officials that allow motorsport to happen each and every day around the world, as the safety of the competitors and officials has always remained my highest priority.
“Thank you to the FIA president, Mohammed Ben Sulayem and his presidential team for their personal support since their appointment and I wish them the best for the future.
“The personal support of my family, friends, and colleagues globally during this journey and particularly in the last few months can only be described as overwhelming and something that I will forever cherish.”