FIA Logo, Red Bull Ring, 2019

FIA details plans for F1’s ‘VAR’ and new sporting director in wake of Abu Dhabi row

2022 Bahrain Grand Prix

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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.

The governing body has also confirmed it will appoint a new F1 sporting director to oversee the new officiating structure which has been put in place for 2022.

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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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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9 comments on “FIA details plans for F1’s ‘VAR’ and new sporting director in wake of Abu Dhabi row”

  1. Yes well, that’s great and all… but I just watched a Q session where multiple cars crossed the line and they’ve kept their times. Zhou didn’t. I hoped for a bit more consistency? Sadly I was naive?

    1. I found that a bit odd too, given Sky was stating the RD had said the white line is the track limit.

      FIA and F1 are making good moves and we will see how they play out.

    2. I think the rule is that it’s fine as long as 1 part of your car remains on the white line & since I think the FIA have static cameras monitoring track limits I wonder if while the angles we got on TV made it look like drivers were outside the white lines the static cameras & other data the FIA have were showing a part of the tyre was on the line or something.

      I think they have some timing loops, GPS & pressure pads in use this year also so will have more angles/data available than us watching on TV.

      I think back to Monza a few years ago where everyone was convinced somebody had gone over the line on a qualifying lap based on the TV cameras but later in the day another angle was released which showed the front tyre was still just about on the white line which is why the time was allowed to stand. @blueruck

      1. Well, perez to name one, was way out of track in the last corner. There could not be any mistake there.
        So already inconsistent stewarding in the first moment it counts. Not good.

        1. Well, perez to name one, was way out of track in the last corner.

          According to various knowledgeable sources (ex-drivers etc), there is no advantage in exceeding track limits at any point other than turn 4.
          At other points it is apparently a disadvantage. Maybe Perez would have been faster than Verstappen if he’d kept it on track at that point?

  2. I actually feel sorry for Masi. He did exactly what F1 and Liberty wanted him to do. That been turning F1 into an entertainment. Now his name is tainted and will be remembered as the cheater of all time in f1 history.

    1. Michael Masi sold his soul to devil. You are either an honorouble man trying to save the sport or a cheat destroying the sport and creating just a farcial entertainment. Michael Masi made his choice.

  3. Lol, last year was so straight that we’ve decided to implement a camera system that shows were so straight

  4. Forgive me if I am yawning. The main thing here is the fact that the most absurd red-flag and safety-car rules are still in place. They were an absolute curse of (primarily) 2021 season and inevitably will create problems again.

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