Jean Todt (FRA) FIA President. 04.09.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 13, Dutch Grand Prix, Zandvoort, Netherlands

FIA ‘maybe too permissive’ of teams criticising officials – Todt

2021 F1 season

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Outgoing FIA president Jean Todt suggested the FIA has been too lenient of F1 teams and drivers being publicly critical of race officials.

The 2021 Formula 1 season was marred by a series of controversial incidents, prompting heavy criticism of FIA race director Michael Masi and of decisions made by stewards during multiple grands prix. This culminated at the season-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where Mercedes protested the result of the race after Lewis Hamilton lost the world championship on the final lap to Max Verstappen after a disputed late race restart.

Earlier today Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said Masi had robbed Hamilton of the championship. Todt feels his organisation may have been too willing to allow teams to be critical of race officials and the decisions they make.

“Of course, we can always improve,” Todt said. “But then, you need to behave as well.”

Todt made reference to Olympique Lyonnais president, Jean-Michel Aulas, receiving a 10-match ban – five of which are suspended – from the French Football Federation after comments he made to a referee following a recent game.

“I was reading today in the French sport magazine L’Equipe, the president of the Lyon football club – which is one of the most important teams – he has been forbidden for 10 games because he’s spoke badly about the referee,” explained Todt. “So maybe we are being too permissive, you know?

“On one side, I feel it is important to have a dialogue between the governing body, between the teams, between the drivers, between the commercial rights holders, but it should not go against us.”

After deciding not to formally appeal over the race, Mercedes vowed to “hold the FIA accountable” after the governing body announced they would hold a “detailed analysis and clarification exercise” into the incident. The team also boycotted the annual FIA prize giving gala in Paris, which they were required to send representatives to as Hamilton finished second in the drivers’ championship with Mercedes winning the constructors’ title.

Todt says the FIA will analyse actions taken by both race control and stewards from throughout the 2021 season to try and make the rules of racing clearer for all competitors, but dismissed any suggestion that race officials fail to remain impartial in their decision making.

“In a way, it’s human behaviour,” said Todt. “You see, Max after the first corner when Lewis overtook him on the right side, he said ‘I’m [being] persecuted’. I mean, believe it or not, nobody is [being persecuted], but it’s the perception. So in the heat of the action, you have your own feelings.

“On the other side, you have the race director, you have the stewards who have a lot of organisation. Are we perfect? We are not perfect. And incidentally, that’s why I’ve suggested to have a full review to see what needs to be improved in light of what has happened. But not only at this race, but what has happened over the year.”

Todt steps down tomorrow as FIA president at the end of his third and final term. An election will be held tomorrow, with FIA members voting to determine Todt’s successor.

The former Ferrari F1 team principal says he still maintains a love for the sport’s premier category.

“Incidentally, I was watching the [Abu Dhabi Grand Prix],” said Todt. “Tomorrow, I leave this position, but I still love Formula 1. I will still watch the grand prix.”

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Will Wood
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101 comments on “FIA ‘maybe too permissive’ of teams criticising officials – Todt”

  1. Put Lukashenko as FIA president! He fits FIA perfectly.

  2. Amazing, the day Mercedes decide not to drag the FIA through it’s own kangaroo court. It’s the teams fault we are in this mess as we’ve allowed them, to be publicly critical rather than keep it secret under threat of punishment. Of course FIFA are a paragon of virtue. They are not a self regulated ‘authority’ whose sole goal is to aggrandise their own product and protect their reputation either are they?

    1. Yep, the FIA had a chance to admit failings and instead are gaslighting instead… Utterly despicable.

  3. Silence. You shall not question a race where drivers 7 through 14 definitely had their race compromised and drivers 3 through 6 were not afforded the same opportunities as drivers 1 and 2.

    1. Yes follow footballs example. Good call….

    1. Lmaooo. Article 12.2.1 (f) which forbids “any words, deeds or writings that have caused moral injury or loss to the FIA, its bodies, its members or its executive officers, and more generally on the interest of motor sport and on the values defended by the FIA.”

      Toto should be summon to meet FIA stewards at the 1st race of 2022. Just like they did to Horner.

      1. lol… they should summon Masi then

        1. they should summon Masi then

          Yep. While Toto’s words may be considered damaging to the FIA, it is Masi’s actions which have caused the moral injury to the FIA. He is just pointing this out.

  4. And he is right, Masi had to operate under immense pressure from both teams.

    CH was rightly told his comments were not ok after the ‘rogue marshal’

    Toto’s outburst ‘Mikey mikey’ was extreme out of line.

    Both should get a race ban for it.

    1. Martin Brundle was good on this. He said that all the lobbying by team managers has to stop. Quite right.

    2. CH was criticising a volunteer marshal for doing his job.

      TW was criticising a race director who was ignoring the rulebook and making something up which was pretty much certain, barring a miracle, to cost his driver the title.

      They are not even close to comparable.

      1. Horner made excuses.
        TW just keeps on giving and went beserk. Total lack of respect for the referee…
        Indeed not comparable.

        1. yeah, cause Toto is perfectly right with his critics!

        2. Can you show us where on the doll Toto touched you?

          1. Still playing with dolls do you…

      2. @drmouse

        Agreed in other sports CH would get 1 game/raceban and Toto several.

      3. I didnt cost them the title. They lost the race.

        1. the race which caused them the title. even a three year old would understand the causal connection.

          1. A season is called a season for a reason. Just because you didnt like the outcome of the last race, doesnt mean the races preceding it weren’t just as much as a joke. They similarly impacted the outcome of the overall championship.

  5. Todt has all the reasons to say this — but certainly not after the Abu Dhabi race. It’s not as if Masi was criticized this badly even after Saudi Arabia race. People did not take it this badly when he “offered” VER to move to third for restart when he cut the corner and held the place, when it could have been easily sent to the stewards for a 5-second time penalty. He was offered to give the position back. (F2 race saw a similar incident where Daruwala was given 5 second penalty that pushed him leading the race to last, as the race ended under SC). So, the offer to push VER to P3 was a fine one.

    The race in Abu Dhabi — it looks like FIA and F1 organization just thinks that everyone should just accept officials not following the rulebook; or interpret it in any way they want and just saying that they will do a full investigation without admission of any wrongdoing is just baffling.

    There’s really no humility even when getting out. I would prefer Todt simply said: “I wish this is not how my last race as the FIA president ended.”

    As Mark Twain said, “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”. Similarly, as Fans, out support is with the sport all the time, and with the officials when they deserve it.

    1. Spot on.

      Up until Sunday, I would have agreed with him. The behaviour of both Mercedes and Red Bull have been shocking all season. There have been mistakes, inconsistencies, bad calls and confusion. It’s been a bit messy, but I always thought they were trying their best to keep the sporting integrity of F1, and the way the teams have railed against him and the stewards was appalling.

      But to come out with this straight after Mercedes have dropped an appeal against a clear cut case of the race director ignoring the rules written clearly, against what he himself said last year he had no choice but to follow, simply adds weight to any thoughts that all this is going to be whitewashed and they are not going to do anything to improve. Just like the FIA statement yesterday, it is remarkably insensitive at best to be saying this.

      I see this as yet another sign that F1 is heading down the toilet, if it’s not already traversing the sewer. I’m appalled!

  6. Me thinks the FIA Should get its own house in order before criticising others

  7. Poor Toto Wolf =^^=
    2 backfires in 4 days :p

    i’m dead =^^=
    Nice one, Jean Todt :)

    And sincerly, about Toto Wolff or Horner, i do some agree with him .
    Talking with official is not “lobbying” or “blackmailing” them.

    From both team, it has gone too far.

    The funny thing is that Jean Todt saying it, he was one going often to the stewards.
    But this time, i do agree with him.

    I think Toto was off the line on sunday.

    1. Toto Wolff keeps reminding Masi to follow proper steps and not manipulate stuff.
      Horner is like that guy that sits on your shoulder encouraging you to jump the fence.

  8. What else teams can do when a FIA farce happens? Pay money and send flowers to Masi? Apparently, Red Bull did just that and that’s why Max was allowed to receive a gift – the title.

    1. Man you really need to take a deep breath and realize the season was longer than the last lap. Have you watched any other races maybe? Doesn’t seem like it. There was no conspiracy, just bad luck, of which Max had a lot more than Lewis this year.

      1. Yes, I saw how Max breaktested Lewis in Saudi Arabia and other races. I have seen all cheating examples of Max and FIA.

      2. There was no conspiracy, just bad luck

        I agree that there was no conspiracy, at least not to crown one driver or another. But to call an official knowingly breaking the rules “bad luck” is BS.

    2. say them Hi, or call someone a rougue RD maybe? FIA needs strong reforms in my opinion. They killed the sports and built a laughable soap opera.

  9. Hamilton should have changed tires during the safety-car. Red Bull took the risk and won. That’s what went wrong for Mercedes.

    1. One day you will understand

      1. He simply is a bit faster then you…

    2. With hindsight, if the team had known Masi was going to ignore the rules completely and things were going to pan or as they did, maybe they should. But at the time there was every chance of that there would be no choice but to finish under the safety car, and if that happened then having pitted earlier would have been throwing the title away.

      Put simply, Red Bull had nothing to lose, and they took advantage of a clear opportunity which the situation didn’t leave available to Mercedes. Had the rules all been followed, lapped cars had been able to get through earlier and the race restarted, it would have just been pure bad luck when Hamilton was inevitably overtaken, but still a sensible strategy call from Mercedes when the call was made.

      That’s not what happened, though…

      1. But at the time there was every chance of that there would be no choice but to finish under the safety car, and if that happened then having pitted earlier would have been throwing the title away.

        At last… you get it. They gambled and lost.

        1. They took the safest option, and lost when the officials ignored the rules.

          Had the officials followed the rules and they had lost out, there would be validity in what you were saying.

          1. And let’s not forget, with all the lapped cars cleared, Sainz could theoretically have attacked Verstappen– and it’s more difficult to pass when someone’s chasing you.

      2. Mercedes knew what Masi was going to do depending on who was ahead.
        Masi’s first opportunity was Giovenassi’s stop on track and Toto reminded him he didn’t need to bring out the safety car after the VSC.

    3. This is exactly why the race was a farce. Ricciardo took the same approach as Max. Pit for fresh tires and race to the end for the points. Masi left him out of position whilst the drivers he was racing were let go.

      1. Thank you. Somehow some people still don’t see this.

    4. Actually, based on the state of the track and the race, Mercedes made exactly the right call to keep Lewis out– Because had the race director followed the actual rules and regulations governing F1, Hamilton would have won the race under the safety car.

  10. Respect is earned Mr.Todt, not demanded.

    1. Respect can be bought too. Red Bull has enough money.

      1. Thats what Mercedes thought only to be caught out at the last race. Well, they did get their better tires, wings, pitstops and convenient red flags. So it wasnt all wasted. Biggest cry babies in sports history

        1. Biggest cry babies in sports history

          Given the comments of Max and Horner throughout the season, I think there would be some debate over where that title went.

  11. I don’t think that Masi or the stewards are biased. But being impartial is only a minimum requirement for any referee. I don’t think anyone has ever said in soccer that “he is a very good referee, because he is so impartial”.

    1. Former Fifa officials Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have been charged with fraud and other offences…
      So, Jean Todt made a correct comparison of FIA and football.

    2. I think Masi knew what he was doing.
      He wanted Max to win and saw the opportunity and handed him the championship. He is fraud and should be investigated.

    3. The stewards made a biased decision, based on a poor interpretation of the rulebook.

      Masi made a foolish decision, based on wanting to be the “cool” race director who’s willing to ignore his own precedent.

  12. So each driver who said what the ? is going on, this is crazy, on the last lap will be sanctioned. And anyone not showing sufficient fealty to the governing body will be guilty of thoughtcrime unless they can prove otherwise?
    Didn’t he try this last season? Might work against the new breed but I doubt whether Ham, Seb or Alonso will play along.
    Maybe the FIA could bring together the RD, Stewards and all race officials together under one umbrella and call it the FIA Department of Truth?

  13. Not a good start to this inquiry imo. Obviously there are some times where criticising the officials can get out of hand, but last weekend shows it’s the officiating that needs to improve.

    Nonetheless, I think Todt’s been quite a good President and it’ll be sad to see him go. Definitely reintroduced a bit of normality and calmness after Mosley and Ballestre

  14. All of what Todt is saying would be fine, if these guys did not come out and say openly that they would like to see Michael Schumacher’s legacy be preserved! That’s what’s wrong with all of these.. so, you open yourself for being manipulative.

    If like any normal person would have said, “I have been with Michael when this record was set. So, I really want this to be preserved. But, if someone is good enough to break it, he certainly deserves it. Even as Michael said, records are meant to be broken.” But, that’s not what anyone said right? Todt, Bernie, and even allegedly Masi (I would really like a source for Masi if he even said that).

    1. What’s impressive is that schumacher himself, before the skying accident, when asked if hamilton could equal or even surpass his championship record, said something like: I don’t see why not, records are meant to be broken.

  15. ian dearing
    16th December 2021, 21:06

    So each driver who said what the ? is going on, this is crazy, on the last lap will be sanctioned.

    Their mouthes will be shut with a piece of sticking plaster for the next GP.

  16. petebaldwin (@)
    16th December 2021, 21:19

    Not a great time for him to bring this up but I guess he’s leaving soon so doesn’t care.

    He’s got a point though – I’m no other sport can you get away with accusing the governing body of cheating and get away with it. Footballer say things about refs but if they openly accuse them of cheating, they get fined.

    Most drivers have said things this year that wouldn’t be allowed in other sports and it’s something they should clamp down on. Obviously now isn’t the time to be doing that though!

    1. Well lets mic up the players for a match and see how that goes.

      1. Indeed! People take the absence of mics in other sports as a sign that the participants don’t say all sorts of things.

    2. But what if the sporting authority is cheating, or at the least, not following their own rules?

    3. True, the behaviour of many has been disgraceful this year. But to say this now, just at a point where an investigation is being launched due to an official wilfully ignoring the rules is… insensitive and stupid at best.

      Let us say an employee had just accused their employer of ignoring their own procurement rules. The company first says that the employee has misunderstood the procurement rules and they would launch an investigation into how to better educate their staff about what the rules actually mean. Then their CEO reminds all employees that they must not publicly criticise the company. How would that be looked upon by the press, the public, the staff, and even any investigating body?

      It would look like there was going to be a coverup, and that the employer was exerting pressure on their staff to keep quiet. That’s exactly how this looks to me for F1, too.

  17. What a clown, you’re getting older dude. Respect your age and history. The guy thinks we live in a dictatorship. FIA literally ruined the whole championship with the decisions taken on Sunday and then they want people to stay silent too.

    1. Jean Todt is used to live in dictatorship – already during the 6th out of 17 GPs in 2001 he ordered “Rubens, let Michael pass for the Championship”. Match-fixing is a common thing for Jean Todt.

      1. Even when they’re was no need, and kept a straight face.

  18. Oh dear. These drivers just won’t toe the party line.

    FIA to kid who has just been presented with karting award by Max. ‘Who do you look up to?’

    Kid ‘Lewis and Seb .’

    1. Good for him. Max did not even blink and why should he.
      .. and Lewis got his price.. personality of the year.
      Great news… karma at last.

  19. The best way to avoid having teams criticize officials is by not giving them so much to criticize. I know stewards have a very difficult job and it is prone to criticism no matter what calls they make, but that doesn’t mean the officiating has to be so wildly inconsistent or that rules are made up on the fly.

    The FIA really needs to take a hard look at itself and understand why everyone is so upset with them. Spoiler alert: It’s not because the teams, drivers and fans misunderstand the rules. And if they aren’t capable of doing that themselves for whatever reason then they need to hire a third party evaluator to provide that type of insight to them.

    1. The best way to avoid having teams criticize officials is by not giving them so much to criticize

      Spot on. In particular, when an official takes it upon himself to ignore the rules and make up his own, he legitimately opens himself up to personal criticism.

  20. Just because you want something to be true doesn’t make it so. The way one Toto interacts with FIA and F1 staff and officials is as if though he’s the headmaster and they’re his disobedient pupils. There is no room for that kind of behavior in civilized grown up world and if he wishes to do so he can get a job as a school teacher somewhere in Austria if they let him close to any of the children, but that is a big if considering his recent behavior.

    1. Toto was completely over the line asking for a race to be run by the rules. They should ban Toto for life.

      1. Yep, it’s completely won’t to expect a sporting competition to be run under the rules. Bad Toto, you should have known that they would invent new rules whenever they wanted to!

          1. Two different things not being satisfied with something doesn’t mean you have to behave irrationally about it. And to be fair he has benefited from “creative” application of the rules in past himself and never once did he behave in such a way so go figure…

          2. @Avto: this wasn’t “creative” application of the rules, though. It was a race official purposely and knowingly ignoring rules which he has said himself he is obliged to follow.

          3. Is that a fact? Because the race stewards figured otherwise and don’t forget these are the same people who on more than one occasion have cleared the Mercedes/Hamilton camp of many an “incident” when Toto’s counterpart was calling for blood and putting up a show not too dissimilar from this one. You either like their decisions or you don’t if you pick and choose then you can’t really complain when someone else is complaining.

  21. He has an excellent point.

  22. “Tell them I said hi”

  23. of course Todt would like to have backroom dealings.

    good riddance! i hope he goes off to enjoy his money

  24. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
    16th December 2021, 23:43

    after two absolutely shambolic races in a row left everyone seething, Todt has managed to reach the worst conclusion possible. What is he even thinking!?!

  25. May I suggest Flavio Briatore to be the next FIA president?

    And every driver or team boss not saying him Hi every session will get a ban or DSQ.

    I’d hope some of the established uninvolved drivers or team bosses would speak up clearly, what they think about this farce! Staying quiet means to tolerate or even support this disgrace.

  26. This is where I’m worried things will go with their commission and report. They problem the FIA sees, and the problem Mercedes / most fans saw are not the same. The FIA is uspet with the reaction, not the issue which caused it.

    Also his comparison with Aulus is inapt, yes Lyon has criticised the referees when they made an obvious error (as Wolff has with Masi), but that’s not what earned him his ban. He was banned for intimidating a referee in a seperate match using his position on a committee to threaten the referee. No one in F1 has taken any such action against Masi, they appealed, but never intimidated or threatened (although some of the twitter posts lately coming from the wife’s account are close to crossing that threshold, to be fair.)

    1. The FIA is uspet with the reaction, not the issue which caused it.

      Yep. It’s shameful, and doesn’t speak to any possibility of real change. I fully expect the “review” to be a whitewashing cover up.

      although some of the twitter posts lately coming from the wife’s account are close to crossing that threshold, to be fair

      Does Susie hold any position within F1 anymore? If so, she may need to be a little careful, but her criticisms are valid and she’s voicing the same views as many fans. If not, she’s a private citizen who should be free to voice whatever opinions she wishes (within legal limits, of course).

      1. To answer my own question, she doesn’t seem to hold any position within F1 but is the CEO of a Formula E team. Therefore she may end up in trouble with the FIA, especially considering they seem intent only on covering up their own failings…

  27. I would like to see Toto Wolf banned from F1 teams for a season. He is encouraging Hamilton to feel persecuted rather than accept the outcome. Perhaps Christian Horner too, they have both gone too far this season in bullying stewards.

    1. I would like to see Toto Wolf banned from F1 teams for a season. He is encouraging Hamilton to feel persecuted rather than accept the outcome

      People criticize Saudi Arabia for their draconian penal code but I wonder what they would say if people like you were in power. I mean – you want a guy to be banned simply because he refuses to ask Hamilton to accept the outcome of a rigged race? Eh!

  28. Isn’t that leaning towards fascism?

  29. It’s really tiresome seeing these mistaken claims that rules were broken by Masi when they were not. The safety car was unavoidable and it had been previously agreed upon by competing parties that the race would end under green conditions if possible. It seems the big point of contention is that only some cars unlapped themselves. The word “any cars” instead of “all cars” was chosen for a one-lap-left scenario like this in order to get racing underway as soon as possible. Even if all cars had unlapped themselves, what would it have changed? Hamilton was 2s behind Verstappen and without Ricciardo between him and Sainz, Hamilton would have risked finishing P3. I know it’s frustrating that Hamilton lost his lead due to a safety car, but that’s a common occurence in F1. It’s called motor racing.

    1. Case closed!

  30. Maybe your guy should call some yellow cards before letting the match get out of hand. Enjoy your retirement.

  31. Hm, well, I guess I am glad they didn’t, even though some of the comments from Alonso this year, as well as from all sorts of Red Bull people and at times from Wolff were a bit too much for me this year, I certainly don’t want to see F1 get back to the times of reign of fear where Mosley put a “bringing the sport into disrepute” to all criticism of the sport.

    Bye Mr. Todt.

  32. This team bosses lobbying with race director what to do is.. beyond taste. Once the race is underway, teams should be able to alert to concerns but not suggestions along the way of… “No Michael, No”.. and others :D It is just silly.

    What good is for the race if Boss A alerts Race control, that overtake was done off track? Race control should have this data, there should be at least one person watching each race car at all times. It is sport with revenue measured in billions, clearly spending some money on good stewards would not be lost?

  33. Removing a direct line to the race director during a race would be a much needed start!

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