FIA incompetence in adjudicating F1 races not acceptable, and the Formula 1 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola in Italy was a prime example – “A comic dramatic work using buffoonery and horseplay and typically including crude characterization and ludicrously improbable situations.”
In my time I had a few run-ins with Charlie Whiting (God rest his soul). One of which was sat at the bar in the Barcelo Hotel, Jerez, during winter testing.
To be fair to Charlie he’d have a chat with anyone, if they were buying the drinks. He wasn’t an ivory castle kind of guy. Though having spent time with him in such informal settings I came to realise how Micky Mouse the FIA F1 regulatory procedures really were.
After much banter and several drinks, I demanded to know why the FIA didn’t police track limits properly. Charlie responded, “I am the fucking FIA as far as F1 is concerned”, a comment my booze slewed mind flagged up as a red moment.
Charlie explained it was his job to maintain the pantheon of F1 regulations – both sporting and technical – and also to write the specific legal details of new regulations/technical directives and interpretative decisions.
Charlie most certainly did not just ‘Push the button’, to start each race.
A similar commercial multi-billion dollar outfit would manage this regulatory process with the highest-level project managers and a team of high cost lawyers. But Charlie was abandoned by Jean Todt to do all this detail pretty much on his own.
Yet Charlie didn’t bemoan his lot, in fact he loved the quasi dictator role he had been awarded, failing to understand he was hugely under resourced to fulfill such a function.
Footnote: Yes there were FIA lawyers available to Charlie; but they were mere belt and braces operators to mitigate liability and hadn’t the faintest clue about how regulations would affect the on track instances one iota.
Now Charlie has passed on to be with Jesus, maybe times have changed.
Though just like in literary criticism, if you know your F1, you can make educated guesses based on prior experience as to what is really going on.
And I will state without much doubt, the new `F1 race director and stewards are way less competent than the general public believe.
Charlie told me that one of the primary sources for the F1 race Director and stewards being alerted to race regulatory infringements wasn’t just the camera’s broadcasting to the stewards monitors, but team personnel supplying him with information he and his steward buddies missed.
Charlie was proud that F1 ‘self policed’.
Race stewards are somewhat like the Klu Klux Clan. Not in a racist manner, but in their nigh on total anonymity and lack of accountability. Further, their membership criteria are often based around spurious racing credentials from their countries national sporting associations.
Criticism of this out of touch panel of persona’s on a jolly, led to the appointment of a ‘driver steward’; supposedly to bring some common sense and reality to this bizarre panel of guys running the asylum.
Then again; look at the quality of driver stewards appointed at times. Grace and favour for services rendered is still more important than competence.
Christian Horner in Imola was on such a high with Max out up front – that his usual ‘nail Mercedes for an infringement’ focus was way off. He and Red Bull failed to spot that as Hamilton reversed back onto the track, he was passed by another car at high speed.
Clearly not returning to the track in a ‘safe manner’ is a breach of the regulations. Given Race Director Monsieur Massi and the Stewards may have been getting a sausage roll and whisky, they were depending on the F1 teams to report possible breaches.
Horner was reveling in a given victory and forgot to drive the knife into the heart of his arch rival. This meant Sir Lewis was allowed a God of F1 recovery drive when in fact he should’ve been sent to the back of the class.
Fine margins and attention to detail matter.
However, the real motive for this article was despite our natural aversion to all things finger boy, the Klu Klux Stewards were bang out of order when slamming down the gavel on Vettel’s Imola sin.
Seb’s car was safely removed from the grid to complete the remedial work required, but F1 regulations determine when certain stuff has to be on the car – when it’s on the grid – and who is still allowed to be there.
Long and short of it is Seb fell foul of this reg. His wheels were fitted just a little late.
This should have been obvious immediately to the eagle eyed Stewards, or were they merely getting wankered on hard liquor?
In fact, it took a complaint from another team to alert these guardians of our sporting regulations of Aston Martin’s minor lack of discretion, well after the race start. So on lap 20 the sleepy eyed Joe’s issue Vettel a penalty. Stop and Go. That is pretty much ¾ of a minute of lost tine.
So, reversing onto a live track with cars passing at 304kph is safe. Reversing in the pit lane is not, and punishable by the stewards; wheels not on cars 5 minutes before is also a risk to life and limb clearly.
“A comic dramatic work using buffoonery and horseplay and typically including crude characterization and ludicrously improbable situations.”
This is not a description of F1, but the definition of farce.
The less than optimal entitled and invited privileged chaps (no girls allowed) who police our F1 races need to be replaced by professional referees who attend races week in week out.
F1 needs to clean up its act and stop the grace and favour of using unpaid officials for essential activities.
We demand the highest standards of the drivers. They deserve the highest standards of regulatory adjudication.
It’s time Stefano calls out Todt on this matter.