Austin GP stewards slam F1 race director

As the fans watched the exciting chase from Max Verstappen to hunt down and overtake Lewis Hamilton to win the US Grand Prix an extraordinary backstory was developing. Lance Stroll was having one of his most impressive races in F1 and battling Fernando Alonso for P7 when the two collided as Fernando pulled out of the Aston Martin’s slipstream to make an overtake.

Alonso’s Alpine car was launched spectacularly into the air, brushing the barrier but the Spaniard was able to make it to the pits and replace a punctured tyre. Stroll was less fortunate given the damage to his car left him unable to continue.

Stroll was later awarded a 3 place grid drop by the stewards for the Mexican GP as they deemed him at fault for the incident.



Stroll guilty of a “late move”

“It was clear to us that the driver of car 18 [Stroll] made a late move in reacting to the overtaking attempt by the driver of car 14 [Alonso] by moving to the left,” the stewards explained in their decision. “The stewards determine that the driver of car 18 was predominantly to blame.”

However there was another twist in the story yet to come. Haas F1 protested Alonso’s car for running the car in an unsafe condition. The Haas drivers have been shown the black and orange flag a number of times this season which requires a driver to return to the pits for repairs to the body work which is deemed unsafe.

The stewards determined “the evidence shows that car 14 was driven firstly with the mirror flapping for a significant number of laps, then with no mirror after it fell off.”



FIA delegate contradiction

The FIA’s technical delegate Jo Bauer agreed the flapping mirror “was dangerous and it could come loose and hit another driver causing injury” and added “the car was unsafe to be driven with a mirror missing”. 

Alpine did note Baur had certified legal Alonso’s car in post race scrutineering and therefore queried his contrary view that their car was “unsafe.. with a mirror missing.”

The FIA’s head of single seater matters, Nikolas Tombazis agreed with Baur and ultimately the stewards determined the Alpine car was not “in a safe condition throughout a race”.



Alonso penalty appealed

Alonso was given a post race stop and go penalty which was converted to a 30 second time penalty and saw him reclassified from finishing P7 to outside the points paying places.

Alpine have appealed the decision arguing unlike Haas F1 drivers the race director did not issue them the black and orange flag which is the instruction to make the car safe.

However, a little reported matter is that the FIA’s only remaining race director for this season was criticised by the stewards and other FIA officials.



F1 race director sacked

At the previous F1 race in Japan, the F1 race director Eduardo Freitas issued an instruction to deploy a recovery tractor during poor visibility conditions in a manner later agreed to be dangerous. The FIA decided then to drop him from officiating any further F1 races this season, appointing Neils Wittich for the four remaining events.

TJ13: F1 race director sacked ahead of the US GP

In an astonishing conclusion of their adjudication over the Alpine “unsafe” car question the stewards question the competency of F1 race director Neils Wittich. 

A Haas representative had contacted race control twice to make them aware of the ‘unsafe’ Alpine and were advised the matter had been noted.

Yet the black and orange flag never came.



Another F1 race director slammed by stewards

The stewards conclusion’s first point was, “the stewards are DEEPLY concerned that car 14 was not given the black and orange flag, or at least a radio call to rectify the situation, despite the two calls to race control from the Haas team.”

This leaves Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s all new F1 race management strategy in tatters. Following the uproar over decisions made by Michael Massi, the F1 race director for 2021, he was benched by Sulayem and later resigned.

Sulayem decided to appoint two F1 race directors for 2022 which has led to repeated complaints from teams and drivers about the consistency of decisions made by both individuals. Now it appears the FIA have no confidence in Eduardo Freitas and Neils Wittich has been reprimanded by the F1 race stewards in Austin for failing to carry out his duties in the proper manner.

Nico Rosberg below says the matter “should have been policed better”.

Chaos in the FIA? Surely not.

READ MORE: Rosberg, FIA cost cap a “lose-lose”

7 responses to “Austin GP stewards slam F1 race director

  1. bring back Masi!!! and if Mercedes leave F1 the better, Andretti and Porche are ready to enter the circus

  2. RD role too much for one man, yet no one is happy having two?

    Let’s let the teams decide on each others decisions and see how that goes. Obviously the next logical step.

  3. the Masi debacle last race of last season was the last straw with me. The FIA have ruined the “pinnacle of motor sport” with constant tinkering with the rules, ridiculous penalties for most trivial of reasons. So much so when received a driver may as well DNF and save the car for the next race. F1 used to be about the use of cutting edge technology and experience and teams using innovation to enhance the sport. Now it’s about caps and curtailment and the equivalent of holding the most intelligent kids in a class to enable the less academically gifted to catch up.

    I certainly won’t be watching another race whilst this mentality reigns.

    • Totally agree with Mark. F1 these days is a joke, I have said this before, this year must be the worst in F1 History, rule changes, stupid ‘punishments’, ignoring rules and many more idiotic arguments between owners, managers and drivers, especially ‘has been’ drivers. I have been an avid F1 fan since the days of Stirling Moss, going to European races but now I have given up like a lot of other F1 fans. Just where is the sport in F1 today. ? I have not seen the last two race highlights as my interest has waned. Perhaps Go Karting would be more interesting.

  4. Last lap green flag in the most exciting season in 6-7 years was the right call. You don’t end such a season under a safety car. Masi is the most knowledgeable and is really the only qualified for the job. The man risked it all to give us what we want. Excitement. Had they pitted Lewis and he won, it wouldn’t be a problem. Also, Alonso penalty is a joke. He kept on driving after flying and lost a mirror. Big deal.

  5. It does not take a genius to manipulate a race and why do they put wing mirrors on the car if they are not needed.

    • just one or two driver do not look at the mirror because they are used to be miles in front is not an excuse to remove the item, just have to make it more robust and not flimsy like now and the front wing side plates. and please we need Masi back

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