SportF1"Room for improvement" to FIA changes after Abu Dhabi

"Room for improvement" to FIA changes after Abu Dhabi

The top flight’s governing body introduced significant changes to the way Formula 1 races are run in the wake of Max Verstappen’s controversial victory in the final grand prix of the 2021 season, when safety car rules were loosely performed by then race director, Michael Masi .

Despite the FIA concluding that the Australian had acted in “good faith”, he was replaced by two new race directors: former DTM race director Niels Witch and WEC race director Eduardo Freitas , which is currently in the 2022 24 Hours of Le Mans.

This was the main change of the FIA, but among other measures implemented, a virtual stewards room was also created at its Geneva base to help the race director, in addition to asking team bosses that communication with race control The race must be done only and exclusively with an intermediary during the sessions.

However, these modifications have not prevented more controversy from occurring at the start of 2022, especially due to the strict prohibition of the use of jewelry and the use of fire-retardant underwear on the track.

The debates on the regulation also include actions such as Carlos Sainz’s anger at the fact that race control did not penalize Sergio Pérez after stepping on the pit exit line in Jeddah, or Fernando Alonso’s anger at being penalized for skipping a chicane in Miami or the non-punishment of the two Red Bulls for crossing the pitlane starting line in Monaco.

Several drivers also disagreed with the FIA when they decided not to install a Tecpro barrier at the Miami chicane after the heavy crashes of Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon.

This, together with the debate about the jewels and the perception of a clear inconsistency in the decisions of sporting sanctions, has caused tensions between some drivers, the stewards and the FIA.

Alonso , who argued with the president of the category’s governing body, Mohammed ben Sulayem , spoke about it in the preview of the 2022 Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

“I have full confidence in the president of the FIA, yes,” said the Spaniard. “That’s my answer.”

“[But] right now maybe [the decisions are] a little tough. We saw some things at the beginning of the year that weren’t as consistent as we wanted, or as we asked for, I think there’s room for improvement.”

“But I fully trust the FIA president, he will fix the things that need to be fixed.”

Fernando Alonso, from the Alpine F1 team, at the drivers' press conference

Alongside the Alpine driver, Charles Leclerc said: “I would like to see more consistency, that’s where we have to improve.”

“Whether it will improve or not, I don’t know, but as Fernando said, there is room for improvement and now we just have to try to do things better.”

Lewis Hamilton was sympathetic: “We have to have confidence that they will continue to progress. It’s about working together.”

He added: “Overall I think they have done a good job so far. And I think they will improve. We are trying to work with the FIA.”

“About Mohammed [ben Sulayem], I think he has a huge role, so we just have to give him time.”

“There are a lot of things that he wants to do and change. From what he’s told us, he will.”

Sebastian Vettel acknowledged that for drivers “it’s always difficult when you have to deal with decisions that sometimes you understand and agree with and sometimes you don’t.”

“But it’s also kind of the nature of the sport,” he continued. “It’s not always a black and white decision. For us you can always improve, you can always learn.”

Officials, including Niels Wittich, Race Director, FIA, Bernd Maylander, Safety Car Driver, inspect the track

On the specific issue of having rotating race directors, Haas driver Kevin Magnussen said that was making it “more difficult to understand what the rules are”.

“Obviously both race directors are new and need time to settle in,” continued George Russell.

“We have seven races, five one and two the other [Wittich and Freitas respectively]”.

“I think we have to talk openly between the drivers, the race directors and the team managers.”

“We are the ones inside the cars and we really have a feeling of what the circuits are like, what needs to be done to improve the safety, the racing or whatever.”

“And we need to have an open relationship between both parties to push the sport in all directions. But I think a few more races are needed.”

Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas suggested: “One [race director] would be better than two or three.”

“If you have the same person in each race, you always argue with him, he will be the one who receives all our comments and knows our point of view better. That is my opinion,” he concluded.

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