With the new Formula 1 season set to get underway in Bahrain, the FIA has released a detailed account of what transpired between former Race Director Michael Masi and the Mercedes and Red Bull teams during the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
With the 2021 Formula 1 ending in acrimonious circumstances, it is unsurprising that the controversial season-ender is still being discussed on the eve of the opening race to the new season. Having conducted a thorough investigation, the FIA has deemed that both Toto Wolff and Christian Horner, the respective team principals of Mercedes and Red Bull have had an adverse effect on Masi.
The FIA’s statement
“The consensus of those involved in the detailed analysis and clarification exercise was that the respective communications to the Race Director by the Red Bull Racing and Mercedes Team Principals during the final laps of the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP had a negative impact on the smooth running of the final laps because they were distracting when the Race Director needed to focus on making difficult and time‐pressured decisions,” an offical statement by the FIA read.
“Indeed, when the Safety Car is deployed, the Race Director must in particular monitor the cars on track, the order in which they are placed, the deployment of the appropriate flags, the progress of the marshals’ intervention and then, if the Clerk of the Course considers that conditions so permit, order the Safety Car to leave the track.
“The Race Director must therefore manage both the cars on the track, the intervention of the Safety Car and what happens at the scene of the incident, i.e. a considerable number of tasks to be accomplished in a minimum of time to allow the race to resume safely and as soon as possible, while at the same time responding to the demands of the Team Principals. This requires immense concentration.
“Hence, it was found that these communications were neither necessary nor helpful to the smooth running of the race. Rather, the consensus was that they add pressure to the Race Director at a critical time (i.e. at a time when the Race Director must simultaneously monitor the cars on the track, the deployment of the appropriate flags, and the progress of the marshals in clearing the track, and also liaise with the Clerk of the Course in relation to the end of the safety car period) and might seek to influence (whether directly or indirectly, or intentionally or unintentionally) the decisions made by the Race Director.”
Radio communications restricted in 2022
Given the above ruling the communication between teams and the respective race directors for the weekend will be restricted in 2022.
“With the foregoing in mind, the consensus of those involved in the detailed analysis and clarification exercise was that communications between (on one hand) F1 teams and (on the other hand) the Race Director during a race ought to be restricted so that the Race Director would be free to perform his/her crucial role without unnecessary disruption and distractions,” the statement concludes.