“A crisis” - Veteran F1 steward criticises FIA for alternating race directors

Experienced F1 steward Emanuele Pirro has questioned the FIA’s decision to alternate race directors following Michael Masi’s departure at the end of 2021.
(L to R): Mohammed Bin Sulayem (UAE) FIA President with Eduardo Freitas (POR) FIA Race
(L to R): Mohammed Bin Sulayem (UAE) FIA President with Eduardo Freitas …

FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem drafted in Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas as Masi’s replacement for the 2022 season.

Wittich and Freitas would alternate as the F1 race director role throughout the year.

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However, following the controversial 2022 Japanese Grand Prix, the FIA confirmed that Wittch would hold the role until the end of the season in Abu Dhabi.

This was because of Freitas’ poor-handling of the race at Suzuka, with a number of drivers unhappy over the use of a recovery vehicle on track in torrential rain.

Pirro, who continues to be part of the FIA’s stewarding team, described the situation as a “crisis” since the death of former race director Charlie Whiting.

“It is a difficult situation because we are coming from a long period where one man, Charlie Whiting, was at the centre of everything: race director, safety representative and he was the point of contact for the drivers and the team bosses,” he told FormulaPassion.it

“Since Whiting's death, there has been a crisis: Laurent Mekies, who was supposed to replace him, was brought in by Ferrari, Masi was removed from his position as everyone knows, leaving Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas as the best available, but alternation cannot work.

“You have to make sure there are more people ready, because the race director can only grow in his role that way, you cannot train him from outside." 

George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 with Gaetan Jego, Williams Racing Race Engineer. Formula 1 Testing, Yas Marina
George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 with Gaetan Jego, Williams Racing…

Mercedes driver George Russell, who is also head of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, has also questioned whether having two race directors is the best thing for F1 given a lack of consistency.

“We've never had a steward from a previous event at the following race to talk about any certain decisions, I believe,” Russell explained.

“Gary Connelly here this weekend who was in Japan, as well. And these are all things that we need to continue to work with the FIA to improve.”

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