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F1 teams need to help new FIA race directors improve

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After a controversial 2021 season finale in Abu Dhabi, the FIA ​​was forced to revamp the way it officiates F1 racing, with race director Michael Masi being sidelined in favor of a shared role between Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, who are better supported, with the help of a Remote Operations Center – the F1 equivalent of VAR.

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

The wording and enforcement of Formula 1’s pit lane entry and exit rules is the latest topic of controversy after Max Verstappen escaped a penalty in Monaco, while teams are also seeking more consistency in how it has been handled. guarded drivers who impede each other.

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This led Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas to suggest that “one race director would be better than two”, and Haas driver Kevin Magnussen to say that it is now “more difficult to really understand what the rules are”.

AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda went a step further stating: “I don’t trust the FIA. Every time it’s super inconsistent. I already received four reprimands, and the last time in Monaco, I still don’t know why.”

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

Asked to weigh in on the matter in Baku, Binotto said: “If I look at the start of the season, certainly as Ferrari we cannot be happy with that. I think we have often been disadvantaged by decisions, but that’s the way it is.” . it is.

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

“Certainly so far in the season there hasn’t been consistency in decisions at times, I think we can’t deny that, just like we can’t deny that it’s not an easy job. It’s going to take some time. We just need to speed it up as much as possible.” possible.”

Mattia Binotto, Team Principal, Ferrari

Photo by: Ferrari

A crackdown on unnecessary radio communication between crew chiefs and race control, and its removal from broadcast, has helped avoid the public outbursts that sometimes marred the 2021 season.

But Mercedes boss Toto Wolff acknowledges race directors are still “in the line of fire” and believes teams should therefore have some empathy when mistakes are made.

“As Mattia said, it’s a difficult job because you’re also in the spotlight and certainly, Monaco, when you get caught up in this weather condition, the weather, and suddenly you have to make decisions, that’s very, very difficult. “. Wolff explained.

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

“Teams make mistakes, because a wheel is not on the car, or you get the strategy wrong. In the same way, 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 fallout from Abu Dhabi will continue to draw attention to race control decision-making, but says Wittich and Freitas, who have run six and two races so far respectively, are doing a “decent job”.

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

“We just have to give them a little time and I think they’ll make it. Not having [been] a race director in Formula 1 before, they are doing a decent job.

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