The FIA has revealed further details of its plans for a Remote Operations Centre to support its race control team, similar to the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) used in football.
Both changes came about in reaction to the controversial conclusion to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, in which the FIA’s F1 race director Michael Masi incorrectly applied the rules when organising a final-lap restart, which swung the outcome of the 2021 world championship.
While the new Remote Operations Centre has been likened to VAR, the FIA says it will handle data “comparable to that of more than ten simultaneous football matches, including over 140 video and audio sources.”
The FIA confirmed the first phase of the centre is online at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. It will function as a supporting resource, handling matters referred to it by on-site the race direction team.
Its only role will be to support the team at the track. The FIA noted the ROC “does not have any regulatory power and cannot be used to reassess or alter past decisions.”
It described it as “an additional resource for the FIA to thoroughly replay and review aspects of the competition and the decisions made in order to refine and improve procedures for the future.”
“As the Remote Operations Centre is developed, it will become a valuable training and educational resource for of the next generation of Race Control staff and Stewards,” the FIA added. “Its benefits will later extend to other FIA Championships and the wider international community of FIA National Sporting Authorities (ASNs).”
The creation of the ROC accompanies a wider shake-up of the FIA’s officiating team. Masi has been replaced as race director by Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, who will alternate in the role. They will be supported by the experienced Herbie Blash as an advisor.
In order to oversee the new structure, the FIA will also appoint a new sporting director and additional senior regulatory legal counsel. The latter is to give greater legal support to the race direction team during F1 race weekends and on sporting matters generally.
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