There has been a series of changes in Formula One racing for the 2022 championship. With new regulations and a newly designed car in action, the competition between the racing teams has evened out pretty fairly. Moreover, F1 appointed the new FIA President and two new race directors for this year’s championship after last year’s battle ended on a controversial note during the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.
The FIA President Mohammed ben Sulayem recently shared the racing body’s plans to improve training methods and find a new batch of future race directors. Last year, Micheal Masi was given the race director’s responsibility for a whole season as per last year’s format. However, the Australian was sacked in the offseason for his error during the late championship battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, which cost the former his eighth championship title. The Mercedes and Red Bull drivers fought neck-to-neck throughout the whole season, with the 2021 title being settled during the final lap of the final race in Abu Dhabi.
Masi’s controversial decision during the safety car procedure in the final moments of the race allowed Verstappen to level up with Hamilton and finally get ahead of the Briton to lift his first championship title. Many fans felt that the decision ultimately spoiled the contest between the two rivals. The FIA reviewed Micheal’s decision during the postseason and stated that the race director did not follow the racing protocols. While they did not take back the championship from Verstappen, Masi was axed and was replaced by two new racing directors, Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas. The two new recruits will share the role alternatingly during the 2022 season.
FIA President Talks About F1 Race Directors’ Future
After last year’s controversy, the FIA has decided to take some crucial steps to deliver a fresh batch of race directors. They plan on providing proper training and education to the new prospects. Mohammed Ben Sulayem revealed that the FIA is struggling to find enough race directors. They cannot pick, rent or buy race directors. Hence, the FIA president feels that the governing body needs to make sure they provide the new race directors with proper education and training. Moreover, Sulayem said they at least need three directors so the FIA can put forward a rotating system.
Mohammed further revealed that the FIA has thought of offering the future prospects a training process and then figuring out if they fit in. The FIA president was sure to find the right fit. Moreover, the former Emirati rally driver disclosed that the FIA would set up the training program with their team. Sulayem was confident of finding F1 race leaders who are a hundred percent efficient. The 60-year-old added, “You could build a pyramid through the WEC and track racing. It is about the process.”
Is Micheal Masi Retuning In F1 Race Director’s Role?
Micheal Masi’s decision during the final race last year put some attention unwanted attention on the race director’s unpopular position. The controversy has led to a complete turnaround in the F1 management’s mindset. The rules have been imposed more strictly this season. Wittich and Freitas have already been involved in a couple of controversies a few months into their new role. They have taken a strong stand against wearing jewelry in the cockpit and donning unsafe underwear while racing.
The restrictions have been criticized by top-tier drivers like Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. The controversy became serious after the seven-time world champion suggested he was ready to miss out on a race. As the controversies continue, Freitas is set to replace Neils Wittich as the race director for the Spanish Grand Prix. Meanwhile, Wittich will take the role of deputy race director temporarily.
Undoubtedly, Hamilton would be infuriated as the FIA considers bringing Micheal Masi back. The FIA president shared that Micheal is available, and the racing body might use him. Sulayem clarified that he never said F1 was getting rid of Masi, and they might use him during the season. Moreover, the former racing driver told, “He may be in a good place to use. We are open to everything.”