Ferrari backs FIA's overhaul of F1 race officiating

The Ferrari team says it fully backs the decisions made by the FIA, motorsport’s governing body, in the wake of the controversial finish to the 2021 Formula 1 world championship season at Abu Dhabi.

New FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem announced on Thursday that race director Michael Masi would be replaced, with the role henceforth alternating between Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich with support from Herbie Blash.

There will also be a virtual race control, limits to communications between teams and the race director during races, and a full review of the rules for restarting races after a safety car.

Ferrari principal Mattia Binotto, speaking at today’s launch of the new F1-75, gave his backing to the reforms and said it was time for the sport to move on from the events of last season.

  • Read also: Masi out as race director as FIA shakes-up officiating

“We all need to fully trust the FIA for its independence, and its capacity to take the right decision, and to move forward. In that respect we can only support it.

“I think what happened in Abu Dhabi has been over-discussed, over-analysed, [for] months and weeks,” he told the media at Maranello. “If there is any lesson learned, it’s that changes were required and decided on.

“I think the fact it took so long shows the complexity of the matter,” he continued. “Such is the complexity, it is very difficult to say that anything was made wrong or right, any mistakes or not.

“There is nothing obvious,” he pointed out. “When you are taking such decisions you are always under a lot of pressure in the heat of the action.

“That is true for the FIA, it’s true for the teams, it’s true for whoever is working in that difficult environment, because the pressure is certainly very, very high.

“In order to have full independence, you need trust, and as Ferrari we fully trust them,” he said. “That is really what I’m looking for – full independence of the FIA in the decisions. I think that’s the way it has to be in the decisions, and the way that they’re structuring themselves.

“The communications from teams to the race director certainly doesn’t help,” he acknowledged, approving of the decision to remove the broadcast of discussions between teams and race control from the live TV feed, and to limit dialogue to questions in line with a well-defined and non-intrusive process.

Ferrari car launch F1-75. Maranello February 2022.

©Ferrari

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc said he sympathised with Masi who he said had “been in a particularly difficult seat for the past years.”

“Especially in Abu Dhabi obviously,” he added. ““With an end like that it was always going to be controversial. But the FIA has made a decision and it has a lot more information than I do here so I fully trust that this is the right decision.”

His team mate Carlos Sainz also hoped that Masi would find a rewarding new role at the FIA. “Personally I would like to wish Michael all the best,” said the Spaniard. “I’m sure he will be given a lot of responsibilities.

“We as drivers – or me at least – we trust him in whatever he has done lately and for the benefit of Formula 1.

“I also welcome the new race directors,” Sainz continued. I’m sure they will have a very difficult task to complete.

“As we saw the last few years in F1 it’s a very difficult role, especially filling in the shoes of the late Charlie Whiting [longtime former race director until 2019] who we all definitely miss.

“But we also accept that this role needs to be done properly, needs to be supported like the FIA is planning,” he said. “I actually like what I see and what the ideas are from the FIA,.

“Hopefully we can keep improving as a sport, and the ruling of the sport can keep improving, to give more clarity to all the F1 drivers but also the fans and teams.”

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