Safety Car, Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi, 2021

FIA will fix problems with role of race director after Abu Dhabi row – Steiner

2022 F1 season

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Haas team principal Guenther Steiner says the FIA is working “diligently” on an inquiry prompted by the row which erupted over the 2021 Formula 1 season finale in Abu Dhabi.

New FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem took over at the sport’s governing body last month. He appointed secretary general for sport Peter Bayer to examine the disputed event, in which the outcome of the world championship swung after race director Michael Masi arranged a controversial restart on the final lap.

The fall-out from the race, in which Max Verstappen clinched the world championship, saw Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff refuse to attend the FIA prizegiving ceremony. Hamilton has not spoken publicly, aside from a single pre-recorded social media video, since the race.

Steiner said he is staying out of the affair but is optimistic the FIA will address the problems raised by the race. “I’m pretty busy with what I’m doing for Haas F1, so I’m not getting involved,” he said. “I’ve got full confidence in the FIA that they will fix it because everybody speaks about it.”

“I wouldn’t like to go into the FIA to tell them what they should be doing because I know that they are doing things but I do not know the details, in these things, contracts and stuff like this,” he added. “I don’t know their structure in there completely. We all know as Michael Masi is the race director but I don’t know what is underlying and how to make it better.”

Bayer has said the FIA is looking at changing the role of race director to ease the pressure on whoever occupies the position. He has also indicated Masi may be replaced.

Steiner said he has discussed the matter with Ben Sulayem. “I didn’t give a lot of recommendations,” he said. “We talked about and I think they are private talks and I don’t want to go there.

“But I know that they are diligently working on it to make it – I wouldn’t say better, which is the wrong word – to make it mainly better for whoever is race director.”

Steiner indicated he believes there is room for improvement in the operation of race control. “It’s a very difficult job, and I’m not here to protect Michael or anything, it is very difficult. I think the sport has grown so much and some of the things have stayed behind.

“I’m sure they will come up with some ideas when they are presented them and then we’ll see what they are doing. But I didn’t give them any recommendation what to do, a specific one. We talked about the issues a little bit and we all know them. So I think the FIA is working diligently that we are moving to a better future.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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18 comments on “FIA will fix problems with role of race director after Abu Dhabi row – Steiner”

  1. So basically he doesn’t know anything but is confident they’ll do something for a better future.

    1. That’s about it.
      But to make an article you need more lines.

    2. I’m sure he is confident he will know more when the FIA make an announcement.

    3. @ldom Well he’s confident there will be some kind of future, though not exactly a better one: “I wouldn’t say better, which is the wrong word.” So, worse maybe? Or just the same awesome level as last season? All pretty inspirational anyhow.

    4. to make it mainly better for whoever is race director.”

      That is an indication of a direction. Like I said before the outcome will be that Mercedes and RedBull get most of ‘the blame’ of the events that took place. Talking to Race Control other than over safety measures will be prohibited. Maybe Toto and Horner will get a slap on the wrist and we will move on.

      1. I hope not, because if that’s the conclusion and the race director is left with the power to ignore rules and make up new ones without need, my “moving on” will be leaving behind the sport I have loved and supported for over 3 decades.

      2. While the “talking to race control” is something that needs to be resolved, it’s utterly irrelevant to the farce of Abu Dhabi. The problem there was a race director deciding he could override very specific rules in the name of entertainment. If this is the direction the investigation is taking, then it’s just more evidence that the FIA lies somewhere between “out of touch” and “morally bankrupt”.

        1. I don’t think it’s irrelevant – probably the best face you can put on the farce is that Masi was flustered and badgered into adopting ‘let them race’ as the primary objective with even safety under pressure.
          It wasn’t only Wolff and Horner calling in – Redbull had been in the habit of also having Wheatley plead cases on the blower the moment Masi might have any decision to make.

  2. Martin Elliott
    4th February 2022, 16:35

    He knows nothing, fortunately that restores some confidence in the commission.

    However, given previous experience, it wouldn’t surprise me that FIA are working on ‘recommendations and actions’ before the commission has published a report and the Sporting Commission adopted it.

  3. Fair enough from Steiner. He’s given them his opinion but is not really being asked nor is needed for FIA to figure this out. Sounds again, to me at least, like Masi will not be replaced but rather given help in his role to take some of the load off him, and of course there may be changes to safety car rules too as they relate particularly to near end of race issues and the go-to plan for those scenarios that is perhaps more ABC and less up to the RD to decide.

    1. Sounds again, to me at least, like Masi will not be replaced

      I hope that’s not the case, he has demonstrated that his interpretation of the regulations (regardless of how they are worded) is not consistent. This is evident in something as trivial as track limits.

      but rather given help in his role to take some of the load off him

      This is a very likely outcome and perhaps this new “assistant” role is where Michael will fit in. I don’t believe he ought to be sacked but perhaps moved to a role better suited to some of his other skills.

      1. Obviously we only know so much from our armchairs but from all I can surmise personally from what I’ve read it sounds like Masi is highly capable but overloaded. He had been under Whiting’s wing ‘apprenticing’ if you will. I don’t envision that he will be an assistant, but rather that he will have an assistant, but who knows. I think F1 will look at track limits issues as relatively trivial as you say.

  4. It seems there is a Lack of Consistency in how actions are taken. The race in Saudi saw a red flag stoppage which gave a HUGE advantage to Red Bull. Verstappen was in the lead with both Merc cars right on his tail After They Had Made Their Pitstops. Verstappen had yet to make his pitstop! Red Bull were able to execute their pit stop sitting still on pit road during the Red Flag.

    IF, if Masi really wanted a racing finish, he should have invoked the same scenario as Saudi. Red Flag the race until the mess was cleaned, and then Green Flag the race. red Bull would still have benefitted by over 20 seconds from the Red Flag / Green Flag start

    1. A red flag was deployed in Saudi because there wasn’t sufficient space to remove the crashed car and allow the safety car train to pass safely, which is very much a problem with the circuit.
      To remove Latifi’s car in Abu Dhabi a safety car was sufficient and the accident didn’t warrant a red flag, hence why one wasn’t thrown. I don’t think “red flag if an accident happens within X laps of the finish” is a good idea as we’ll end up with silly situations of a bit of debris being on track forcing a red flag.
      As for red flag rules, I think they do need updating to remove changing tyres unless they can be shown to be sufficiently damaged and to drop standing restarts as I don’t think they’ve ultimately worked that well.

  5. Is Guenther trying to get Sean Bratches old job at Liberty or something?

    First he says “Here are pictures of next years car but it wont look like this”.

    and now he is saying “I don’t want to tell the FIA what to do, because I don’t know what they are doing, but I am sure they will do the right thing.”

    I understand that being the team principle of Haas would weigh heavy on any mans mind but this kind of tautology makes me concerned for his mental stability.

    I look forwards to his input throughout the season :)

  6. Surely we have 2022’s Elephant in the Room….

  7. Steiner knows full well Masi just did what he was told and will be looked after.

  8. guenther being pc this time instead of dropping the eff bomb! but I’m hoping he’s right about them ditching the 6 sprint races for three again is correct, though i’d as soon they go back to none.

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