Following the finale of the 2021 F1 season in Abu Dhabi, the focus on the FIA race direction has come under the microscope. Michael Massi last seasons FIA race director was ‘aliened of his duties’ due to decisions he made during the final laps of last seasons finale.
Due to protests from Mercedes who believed Massi made decisions that deprived Lewis Hamilton of his 8th world title, the FIA appointed two F1 race directors for 2022. Neither have the experience of Massi and have been criticised regularly for failing to make consistent decisions and for failing to understand the complicated F1 sporting regulations.
FIA race directors Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich were reportedly in disagreement behind the scenes over the heavy rain that blighted the start of the Monaco Grand Prix.
Sky F1’s Martin Brundle questioned the procedure that saw the race delayed by over an hour, Sky Sports’ David Crof suggested the duo who took over from Michael Masi did not see eye-to-eye over the issue.
Again at the Canadian GP controversy reigns over race control decisions as Ferrari boss Matter Binotto observed.
“I think it took very long to decide for the Safety Car,” he said. “At the moment Carlos was leading the race and I think that the Safety Car was released when he was just at the end of the main straight coming to the last corner.
“The team has been very, very good in reacting, and the driver himself as well in coming into the pit. I think we had only one second to react and we reacted within one second.
“Without that good reactions it would have been a very difficult and bad situation for Carlos. And I think again here we need sharper decisions. It took very long, for me, to decide.”
At the time Carlos was leading the race following Red Bull’s decision to pit Verstappen for a second time. The Ferrari driver was on older tyres and Verstappen was hunting him down.
Yet Verstappen admitted after the race he wasn’t sure if he would have caught Carlos Sainz.
Yet the Italian team were hoping for a safety car that would allow Sainz to get fresh tyres and become the hunter for the final 15 laps.
Yuki Tsunoda obliged by crashing on his way from the pits to the track.
Ferrari managed to pit Sainz under the ensuing safety car, but Binotto felt the race director dithered before it was deployed.
This season there has been constant focus on poor F1 race control decisions and it appears the FIA’s appointment of a double headed hydra as joint controllers of the F1 races is not working.
It may displease Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton but for now the best decision may be to bring Michael Massi back.