FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has presented his mandate to address Formula 1’s race direction issues that marred the 2021 World Championship season finale Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The contentious race summed up a failing in race officiating that was cruelly exposed during that night at Yas Marina when the race of the century descended into an embarrassment for the sport, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen crowned F1 2021 World Champion his first Title in the top flight, denying Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton a record eighth F1 World Championship.
Ben Sulayem said in a video published on the FIA website and media channels: “During the Formula 1 commission meeting in London I presented part of my plan for a new step forward in F1 refereeing.
“Drawing conclusions from the detailed analysis of the events of the last F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and from the 2021 season I proposed an in-depth reform of the organization of refereeing and race direction it was unanimously supported by the F1 CEO and teams’ principals.
“Here is my plan for these structural changes. Firstly, to assist the race director in the decision-making process a virtual race control room will be created, like the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in football.
Direct radio communications during the race currently broadcast live by all TVs will be removed
“It will be positioned in one of the FIA offices as a backup outside the circuit in real-time connection with the FIA F1 Race Director. It will help to apply the sporting regulations using the most modern technological tools.
“Secondly, direct radio communications during the race currently broadcast live by all TVs will be removed in order to protect the Race Director from any pressure and allow him to take decisions peacefully.
“It will be still possible to ask questions to the race director according to a well-defined and non-intrusive process.
“Thirdly, un-lapping procedures behind the safety car will be reassessed by the F1 sporting advisory committee and presented to the next F1 commission prior to the start of the season.
Ben Sulayem: Michael Masi who accomplished a very challenging job will be given a position within the FIA
“And finally I would like to inform you that a new race management team will be put in place starting in Barcelona for the test session. Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas will act alternatively as race director assisted by Herbie Blach as permanent senior advisor.
“Michael Masi who accomplished a very challenging job for three years as Formula 1 Race Director following Charlie Whiting will be offered a new position within the FIA. I presented this complete plan to the members of the World Motorsport Council and the Senate who gave their full support.
“With this plan, FIA opens the way for a new step forward for F1 refereeing. Without the referees, there is no sport. Respect and support of the referees is in the essence of the FIA. That is why these structural changes are crucial in a context of strong development and the legitimate expectations of drivers, teams, manufacturers, organisers, and of course the fans.
“I warmly thank all those who contributed to this reform. These changes will enable us to start the 2022 F1 season in the best conditions and our sport will be even more loved and respected thank you for your attention,” concluded Ben Sulayem.