FIA explains how F1’s equivalent of ‘VAR’ will work

The FIA has moved to explain how Formula 1’s new Remote Operating Centre will operate during the 2022 season. 
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W12 and Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB16B battle for the lead at the start of the race.
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W12 and Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull…

F1’s governing body the FIA’s inquiry into last season’s controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix determined that a new 'Virtual Race Control’ system would be implemented for the new season to provide further assistance to the race director. 

Michael Masi has been replaced as F1’s race director for 2022 by Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, who will alternate the role, while highly experienced former deputy race director Herbie Blash will return in an advisory capacity. 

The FIA’s report - which was published on Saturday ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix - found that “human error” was responsible for the incorrect application of the Safety Car rules that altered the outcome of the world championship in the controversial 2021 season finale. 

Masi forced a one-lap restart that enabled Max Verstappen to overtake Lewis Hamilton on the final lap to clinch his maiden world title. 

The World Motor Sport Council’s decisions included an update on how the newly-titled Remote Operations Centre, which has been likened to football’s VAR system, would be implemented. 

It was also confirmed that the first phase of the ROC is now online at the FIA’s headquarters in Geneva. 

An FIA statement read: “Procedural and regulatory matters may be referred to the ROC, which operates in an advisory capacity and will not interrupt the workflow of the Race Direction team onsite or cause any delay to the decision-making process. 

“While similar in principle to the ‘VAR’ in football, the ROC will act as a supporting resource for the Race Direction team with data comparable to that of more than ten simultaneous football matches, including over 140 video and audio source. 

“The ROC provides an additional resource for the FIA to thoroughly replay and review aspects of the Competition and the decisions made in order to refine and improve procedures for the future. 

“It does not have any regulatory power and cannot be used to reassess or alter past decisions.” 

As the ROC is developed, it is set to become a “valuable training and educational resource” for the next generation of Race Control staff and stewards. It is set to be incorporated by other FIA championships at a later date.

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