Career direction changes were a bandage, not a cure
FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has said Formula 1’s race director rotation system this season is a “band-aid” and not a cure.
Niels Wittich there Eduardo Freitas were hired after the previous race director, Michael Masiwas dismissed in February following the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP controversy, and they have alternated in charge throughout the season.
Masi, in turn, had replaced in the role Charlie Whiting after the latter’s death just before the start of the 2019 season.
Wittich and Freitas were the most qualified candidates when the FIA sought a replacement for Masi.
Ben Sulayem he stressed that the governing body needed to have a stronger squad to be able to adapt more easily to the loss of a key player, including himself.
He cited the introduction of the Remote Operations Center (ROC) in Geneva as a key aid in bringing more race directors and stewards into the system.
The ROC is, in effect, a replica of the race control layout at the circuits, with the same displays and information available.
“I would like the Federation, if the president leaves tomorrow or whatever, not to depend on me or a person, it must depend on a team,” Ben Sulayem said.
“And that’s the only way to make it sustainable. In one of my interviews, I asked where I could find race directors. I can’t google them, or go to Amazon, you have to create.”
Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali with FIA President Mohammed bin Sulayem, Audi AG Chairman Markus Duesmann, Audi Sport GmbH Technical Development Director Oliver Hoffmann
Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images
“And I don’t want to end up having just one. God bless his soul, I mean, we had a huge loss with Charlie, but then we had no one else. It can’t be like that, we should have more than one.”
“I’m telling you what happened this year, it’s a band-aid, it’s not a cure. And it’s not a permanent solution. It’s just a band-aid, because you have to fill shortcomings. And then there are the stewards, we also have to define the marshals and train them”.
Ben Sulayem has admitted that the inspiration for the ROC came from football’s VAR.
Although its primary role at present is to support race control on the circuit by providing extra sets of eyes, the plan is to develop it further as an official training aid.
“We can’t be reactive, we have to be proactive. So I brought our people together, all of them. It’s like VAR in football. When I spoke to Gianni (Infantino, FIFA president) he told me that now they had fewer complaints.” .
“So I said why can’t we complete the people here (on the track). Not many people know what the FIA does, the whole sporting organization comes to the FIA, and the team is doing very well. .
“So let’s use the technology, bring it here, work with FOM and race better. You can’t run F1 like F4 or something like that.”
“So what we’ve done is use the technology, which is easy to use, have it but make it active from Geneva, and here. More than that, it’s the education part, it’s the training we have.”
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