Max Verstappen says Formula 1 will be improved by race directors taking a more collaborative approach with drivers with regard to certain issues.
Michael Masi’s departure from the race director position at the end of 2021 resulted in an overhaul of race control, with the governing body putting in place two race directors to share the responsibility through the season in Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich. They are supported by Herbie Blash but there have still been multiple complaints from drivers over stewarding inconsistencies, with Sebastian Vettel even walking out of a drivers’ briefing in Austria and getting fined for doing so.
While Verstappen believes consistency from one person in the role isn’t a requirement, he says the way of working with the drivers needs to change after a frustrating weekend at the Red Bull Ring.
“I don’t think necessarily it depends on one race director, I think it’s more about working with the drivers instead of just keeping your stance and just being stubborn,” Verstappen said. “We want to make it better for everyone and it’s not like we’re fighting for ourselves. We have good conversations between the drivers and at the end of the day, more or less, we agree on most things.
“Of course everyone has their own opinions about certain things, but like track limits: I think the track limits debate (in Austria) has been a bit of a joke, not only in F1 but in F2 and F3. It’s easy to say from the outside, ‘yeah but you have to just stay within the white lines’. It sounds very easy, but it’s not because when you go that quick through a corner and some of them are a bit blind, if you have a bit more understeer, tires are wearing, it’s easy to just go over the white line. But do we actually gain time? Maybe yes, maybe not.
“To be honest, there’s only two or three corners where you can really just go a bit wider. I don’t think we should have this value on one millimeter over that’s a penalty or whatever. Then just add a wall or put some gravel back. Like Turn 6 on the exit – I think that’s great because there is gravel, you punish yourself if you go wide.
“So these are things where we have to look into how we can make it better because also for the stewards and just the people involved with checking these track limits, it’s almost impossible to check these kind of things because you need what… almost like one guy on one car the whole race to check the whole lap if he’s not going outside of the white line, where (in Austria), at least, in some places, you get naturally penalized if you just you know go a bit wider and you touch the gravel.
“These kind of things, I think it just doesn’t look good for the sport as well and this is just one thing. Then the other thing is racing incidents and stuff… For sure, we can do better. I think we will work on it we’ll try to make it better.”
Although Charles Leclerc agrees with Verstappen that the race director role doesn’t have to be assigned to just one person, the Ferrari driver believes it would help with consistency.
“I think consistency has always been a thing that we’ve searched for and you can always be better,” Leclerc said. “Obviously, two race directors, it makes it probably a bit more difficult. Whether it’s impossible to achieve a good level of consistency? I don’t think so. So, I don’t really have any solutions for now. But I do believe that probably with one race director, it might be a little bit easier to manage.”