Debutant F1 race director ‘reprimands’ Alonso

Following Mercedes tantrums over the decisions made by Michael Massi in the final race of the 2021 season, F1 have appointed two new race directors for the 2022 season, Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas. Wittich has presided over the first 5 race weekends including the inaugural Miami GP and Eduardo is the race director for this weekends Spanish GP.

Both have very different back grounds, Wittich has limited experience as the race director for a regional championship in Germany. However Eduardo Freitas like Charlie Whiting has worked his way through the varying levels of motorsport experience – as mechanic, track marshal, track secretary, clerk of the course, and race director for single car, touring car and endurance racing events for over 40 years, including serving as race director for the FIA WEC, and the Le Mans 24 Hours Series, the ELMS – European Le Mans Series and the Asian Le Mans Series for 20 years.

And what a difference these comparative experiences make to the running of an F1 race weekend.

Verstappen ‘fuel row’ at Spanish GP


The less experienced Wittich was F1 race director for the first 5 races of the season and in Miami, he was exposed for his lack of competence.

In Miami Friday practice Carlos Sainz crashed at the turn 13 left hander which was in a twisty section that concludes sector 2, just before the much criticised chicane at turn 14/15. The barrier he hit there was concrete.

Sainz had a severe impact against the unforgiving barrier and recommended immediately the race director instruct the barrier not be altered to a much more forgiving techpro wall. The Ferrari driver said, “I’m sorry to be critical, but I told the FIA… that my crash at second gear shouldn’t feel that hard…. my neck was a bit in pain and I told them let’s put Tecpro there because it’s a very hard concrete wall.”

At the driver’s meeting Friday evening in Miami with the race director, the issue was raised, but Carlos request was ignored.


The next day during final practice Alpine’s Esteban Ocon hit the same concrete wall in just second gear, generating a 51g impact which cracked his chassis. He commented after the session, “Carlos has complained to the race director, we were all there listening to it and nothing has been done.”

“Carlos said the impact was way too big and today it felt huge. It’s probably the biggest shunt of my career to be fair.”

“So yesterday Carlos got hurt, today I got hurt as well.”

The during the Miami race Fernando Alonso left the circuit and could have gained a time advantage, however he lifted on the following straight giving the time back. No change of position was affected yet he race director and the stewards penalised the Spaniard which saw him drop from a race classified 8th to 11th.

Alpine and Alonso went to the stewards office to demonstrate with data he had not gained an advantage, but the stewards had packed up, issued the time penalty, so the appeal was unheard.

In an interview this week with Sky’s Ted Kravitz, Alonso who is the most experienced driver on the grid commented that the race direction and stewarding in Miami was “incompetent”.

Kravitz revealed in his post qualifying ‘notebook’ that Alonso had been called to the stewards and “given a talking to” for criticising the race officials in Miami.


To be fair Alonso could have received an official reprimand, but the experienced WEC race director Eduardo Freitas clearly understands the validity of the Spaniards’ complaint.

Freitas properly excluded Lando Norris final run in Q2 today for being millimetres over the white line in turn 9 which meant his time was deleted and he failed to progress to Q3. Failing to respect track limits has been a bug bear for F1 fans since the days of Charlie Whiting.

Further, the race director issued a directive to all the drivers in Q3 to stop driving to slowly and creating a backlog of cars towards the end of the lap waiting to start their quick runs.

We have seen the nonsense here before in Spain when this crawling around the circuit before starting a qualifying lap meant several drivers didn’t make the chequered flag before starting their final runs.

Today there was no repeat of this due to Freitas instructions, so F1 finally has a race director who understands the sport and is not willing to bend to pressure from outside influences.

Maybe the FIA should stop messing around and appoint Eduardo Freitas as the sole F1 race director.




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