Martin Brundle suspects that the FIA are looking into arrangements to keep hold of Michael Masi, despite the race director coming under investigation for his role in a contentious season finale in Abu Dhabi. Lewis Hamilton is believed by many to have lost out on an eighth world title as a result of Masi’s decision, which gave Max Verstappen a serious helping hand on the way to his first.
Mercedes’ plan to appeal the race result in Abu Dhabi was eventually withdrawn.
But they called for reform on how races are governed going forward, and a source told BBC Sport that their appeal was only dropped after reaching a deal that would see Masi sacked ahead of the 2022 season.
The report did add that Mercedes denied any such deal was in place.
It remains to be seen whether the FIA race director has come to the end of the road, with an internal enquiry ongoing.
Drivers and team bosses are set to be interviewed as part of the investigation, which reportedly ramped up in intensity this week.
Debate has therefore sprung up about whether Masi should be punished for his role in the Abu Dhabi controversy, and Brundle, who notched nine podiums during his own F1 career, has a more lenient view than many.
“What I absolutely know for sure is that changing Michael Masi will not fix the problem,” he explained to Sky Sports F1.
“This is way too big a job for one person to handle in a 23-race season.
“It is just growing exponentially. So Masi, if he stays, needs a lot of support around him, and I suspect that’s what they’re looking at, at the moment.
“He has done too much damage to F1, and because of the position he is in, you’ve got to have trust,” he added.
“And I think that trust has completely and utterly evaporated.
“The problem is, who do you replace him with? Experience is going to be very important for the man they [would] replace him with.
“Is there anybody that stands out to replace him? No. And that is the conundrum.”