Ex-McLaren F1 sporting chief Sam Michael to head FIA Safety Commission


The Safety Commission looks at accidents and safety equipment issues in all forms of four-wheel-based motorsport, and its most high profile recent investigation involved Romain Grosjean’s crash at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Michael is of one of many appointments that were confirmed in a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council on Thursday, the first to be chaired by new FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

Michael began his F1 career as an engineer with Lotus in 1993, before moving to Jordan after the Hethel team closed its doors. 

He then went to Williams in 2001, where he progressed through various roles, including those of chief operations engineer and technical director.

He moved to McLaren at the end of 2011, before quitting F1 and returning to his native Australia after the 2014 season.

He worked for several years as an advisor to the Triple Eight Supercars team, while more recently his focus has been outside racing as CEO of Ox Mountain, a machine learning company that he co-founded in 2015.

Ralf Schumacher, Jordan 198 and his race engineer Sam Michael

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

He is also a part time lecturer at the University of Western Australia.

Michael first had a close involvement with safety matters when he was invited to become a director of the Australian Institute for Motor Sport Safety in 2016. 

The following year he became an advisor to the FIA’s Research Working Group, a body of engineers that among other tasks reviews new safety devices.

The 50-year-old Michael also has a seat on the FIA Single Seater Commission. 

That body was previously headed by former Force India boss Robert Fernley, but the role is not currently filled on the FIA’s latest list.

Among other changes within the FIA structure Felipe Massa has moved from the presidency of the CIK International Karting Commission to head the Drivers’ Commission, replacing Tom Kristensen.

The latter was part of the team of Ben Sulayem’s rival for the FIA presidency, Graham Stoker.

Massa’s replacement at the Karting Commission is India’s Akbar Ebrahim.

Meanwhile, Deborah Mayer has succeeded Michele Mouton as the president of the Women in Motorsport commission.

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