RACING

F1 teams must help new FIA race directors improve

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After a controversial 2021 season finale in Abu Dhabi, the FIA ​​has been forced to revamp the way it officiates F1 racing, with race director Michael Masi sidelined in favor of a shared role between Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas , which are better supported, with the help of a remote operations center – the equivalent of F1 to VAR.

But throughout the first third of the 2022 season, race control has consistently been criticized by teams and drivers for a lack of consistency.

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The wording and application of Formula 1’s pit-entry and pit-exit rules is the latest point of contention after Max Verstappen escaped a penalty in Monaco, while teams also seek more consistency on how drivers who get in the way have been checked.

This led Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas to suggest “one race director was better than two”, and Haas driver Kevin Magnussen said it was now “harder to really understand what the rules are”.

AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda went further saying: “I don’t trust the FIA. Each time it’s super inconsistent. I’ve already had four reprimands, and the last time in Monaco, I still don’t know why.”

Ferrari team principal Binotto admits the lack of consistency also bothers the teams, but says they should play their part in helping control the race with constructive feedback.

When asked to speak on the subject in Baku, Binotto said: “If I look at the start of the season, certainly as Ferrari, we can’t be happy with that. I think we often have been disadvantaged by decisions, but that’s how it is.

“We understand the difficulty. I think in order to improve them, we also have to help them. I think it has to be a collaboration between the teams and the race directors, to make sure that they understand, they improve as quickly as possible.

“No doubt so far in the season sometimes there hasn’t been consistency in the decisions, I think we can’t deny that because we can’t deny that it’s not an easy job. . It will take time. We just need to rush it as much as possible.”

Mattia Binotto, Team Principal, Ferrari

Photo by: Ferrari

A crackdown on unnecessary radio communications between team leaders and race control, and its removal from the broadcast, has helped avoid the public outbursts that have at times marred the 2021 season.

But Mercedes chief Toto Wolff acknowledges that race directors are always “in the firing line” and therefore believes teams should show empathy when mistakes are made.

“As Mattia said, it’s hard work because you’re also in the spotlight and certainly, Monaco, when you’re thrown into this weather, climate condition, and then suddenly you have to make decisions, c It’s very, very difficult,” explained Wolff.

“And I think the more races go by, the more experience they get, the more pressure they will face that Formula 1 brings with it. But they are part of Formula 1, just like the teams.

“Teams make mistakes, because there’s no wheel on the car, or you get the strategy wrong. Likewise, the race director is in the line of fire. So I think it’s the same for everyone.”

Haas team boss Gunther Steiner believes the Abu Dhabi fallout will continue to draw attention to race control decision-making, but says Wittich and Freitas, who have so far led six and two races respectively, do a “decent job”.

“After last year’s race in Abu Dhabi, the race director is in the spotlight much more than in previous years,” Steiner said. “So everyone is watching them and every little mistake they get criticized more than before and it can’t be easy.

“We just have to give them some time and I think they will get there. Not having [been] race director in Formula 1 before, they do a decent job.”

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