F1 team bosses back race directors but ‘cannot deny’ the inconsistency

Mark Sutton/Motorsport Images

F1 team bosses back race directors but ‘cannot deny’ the inconsistency

Formula 1

F1 team bosses back race directors but ‘cannot deny’ the inconsistency


Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto says Formula 1 must work more closely with its new race directors to accelerate their improvement after they were parachuted into the role at the start of the season.

Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich are sharing the race directorship this year after the FIA restructured race control in the wake of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix scandal that saw the world title decided after some controversial decisions from then race boss Michael Masi.

An internal investigation found Masi was overworked in the role and lacked support. Doubling up the number of race directors is one of the governing body’s responses to the findings.

But neither new race director had any F1 experience before arriving in the paddock, and drivers have grown increasingly frustrated with what they perceive as serious inconsistencies and inadequacies in the way the sport is being regulated, particularly as they’ve taken place against backdrop of race control clamping down on the more trivial matters of driver underwear and jewelry.

Yuki Tsunoda went so far as to say he’s “not trusting” the FIA after neither Red Bull Racing driver was penalized for crossing the pit exit line in Monaco. The Japanese driver was penalized twice for the same offense last year.

Ferrari protested the apparent breach, but it turned out the race director’s notes for the race had been copied and pasted from an out-of-date rulebook and were therefore misleading.

Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto empathized with the complaints, particularly after his Monte Carlo protest was struck down, but said the teams shared a responsibility to help the two directors grow into their new role.

“It’s certainly not an easy job,” he said. “These guys need some more experience — not something which you learn from the very first race.

“Certainly as Ferrari we cannot be happy with everything — often we have been disadvantaged by decisions — but that’s the way it is.

“We understand the difficulty. In order to make them improve, we need to help them as well. I think it has to be a collaboration between the teams and the race directors to make sure they understand and improve as fast as possible, because so far in the season… sometimes there was no consistency in decisions.

“I think we cannot deny that, as we cannot deny it’s not an easy job. It will take some time. We just need to (accelerate) it as much as possible.”

Haas boss Guenther Steiner agreed, adding that the dramatically increased spotlight on the race directors after last season’s fraught finale isn’t helping matters.

“I’d say after last year, the Abu Dhabi race, the race director is a lot more in the spotlight than the years before,” he said. “Everybody looks at them and every little mistake.

“They are more criticized than before, and it cannot be easy, but we just have to give them a little bit of time, and I think they will get there.

“They came in not having done it as a race director of Formula 1 before. They are doing a decent job.”

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