Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, Baku City Circuit, 2022

F1 race control and stewarding “super inconsistent” in 2022, says Tsunoda

2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Yuki Tsunoda says that the FIA’s race direction and stewarding in Formula 1 over the opening races of 2022 has been “super inconsistent”.

Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas are sharing duties as FIA F1 race director this year after their predecessor Michael Masi was relieved of his role due to his handling of last year’s controversial the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

AlphaTauri driver Tsunoda has collected four reprimands for driving incidents so far this year and will receive an automatic 10-place grid penalty if he incurs a fifth. His latest came after stewards determined he impeded Kevin Magnussen during practice in Monaco.

Ferrari protested the result of the Monaco Grand Prix, which was won by Sergio Perez, claiming he and Red Bull team mate Max Verstappen crossed the white line at pit exit during the race. The protest was later dismissed by the stewards.

Tsunoda, who was penalised for a pit lane exit violation last year which was cited by Ferrari in their protest, said he lacks faith in the FIA’s enforcement of F1’s rules.

“To be honest, I’m not trusting of the FIA,” said Tsunoda. “Every time is super inconsistent.

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“I’ve got already four reprimands and the last time in Monaco, I still don’t know why. It’s not good to say that ‘other drivers were doing it’, but other drivers were doing even worse things and they don’t have even an investigation at some races, but other races they have something strict or something like that. So probably if someone crossed the white line, they get penalty at some other races.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Monaco, 2022
The rule tweak and ‘cut-and-paste’ which explain how Verstappen avoided a penalty
“For me, I just stick what the regulations say or just be safest as much as possible to not get into any trouble. I don’t think that ‘okay, Max or Checo was the crossing the line last time in Monaco, so we can do it’. I think Azerbaijan’s going to be a different story. Every time it’s different.”

Wittich will resume race director duties for this weekend’s race at Baku City Circuit. Asked by RaceFans about how he has found the new dual race director system over the first seven rounds of the season, Tsunoda said F1 may be missing Masi’s experience in the role.

“It is a completely different style of race director,” he explained. “I’m not saying it’s a fully negative thing. There’s also good things that try to make it consistent, to be fair as much as possible with all the teams. For example, that white line track limit is more clear.

“But a lot of other things – for example racing incidents or the traffic management, all those sorts of things – I think Michael Masi had more experience, if I compare.

“So we probably need to wait more time or they need more time to get used to it or have more experience and having good data to make actually good rules. So until then, I just have to survive to not get a penalty.”

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2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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29 comments on “F1 race control and stewarding “super inconsistent” in 2022, says Tsunoda”

  1. super inconsistent

    a.k.a. decisions didn’t go the way I wish they’d gone.

  2. Not a bit surprise really. Having 2 new people come in and share duties, planning to add some kind of “support” extra and doing so right at the start of the season without any time to get together to exchange views, nor even having Masi being part of that team nor having had pretty much any transfer of knowledge so far as we know.

    All of that is a good way to get things even less consistent than they were with Masi. But the teams pushed for Masi to be gone, had the fans on their side and it “worked”, so now they will just have to live with it and hope the new team gathers that experience and finds a new somewhat consistent modus operandi over time.

    1. @bascb There have been some mistakes this year but they deserve some time to settle in before judging too harshly. Masi had years in the role and was getting no better which eventually culminated in the calamity that was the final race last year. The new structure also allows for more redundancy as rather than pin all your hopes on one RD, you can have multiple RD’s trained up. I already have more faith in the new team than Masi.

      1. Sure, @slowmo. But it’s clear that since the idea was cobbled together within a few weeks over the winter without much preparation or transition there really is no reason we should have expected them to be better from the get go (nor do we have a guarantee they will actually get “better”). They certainly might do it. And having 2 people at least prevents them getting burned out a bit and lessens the pressure on a single person responsible. But it also introduces more reasons for inconsistency, depending on how much and how well they coordinate. Time will tell. But teams will complain anyway.

        Personally i am unconvinced that Masi was doing so bad a job really. But just throwing in a new team without preparation was never going to do much to address the issues. Certainly not immediately.

        1. @bascb I cannot agree that Masi was doing a good job, I was calling for him to go or have the role revised 12 months prior to his exit. Relying on one person to run the races for such a huge organisation was always madness.

          1. You are certainly right in saying that the organisation with one person doing so much of it alone, for over 20 races a year etc is a recipe for huge problems @slowmo.

  3. A cynical person might suggest if you’ve had 4 reprimands and don’t think you’ve done anything wrong then the chances are you’re not going to take any corrective action and hence will continue to get more in future.

    The incident with the RBR in Monaco did have the stench of favouritism but when you take into account the regulation had be reworded you can justifiably say that a different interpretation could have been taken. As some people who are so vociferously defending the enforcement of the jewelry rules this year point out though, you don’t just carry on doing stuff the way it’s always been done if it’s against the written rules. Either change the rules or enforce them. That race in Monaco seems to indicate we have a new interpretation of what is allowed on pit exit now and hence any future reprimands for others doing the same would then be improper by the stewards.

    1. Generally, this year there has been reprimands for impeding in practice very often. A total of 9 reprimands through all race weekends so far, three of them for Tsunoda.

      Four reprimands have been given for other infringements, two for unsafe releases, one for practice start against instructions and one for too slow inlap (which is Tsunoda’s fourth reprimand)

  4. Alpha Tauri driver complaining that both RBRs were not penalized. I guess Marco will have a word on this one. :-)

    Apart from that funfact he is right. Those incidents were handled quite strict in the past, and when its RBR then its suddenly fine. Masi will have liked that.

    1. when its RBR the rules changed then its suddenly fine

  5. It brings a wry smile to the lips to hear drivers – thoughtful and opinionated drivers, like Vettel – ponder as to whether making Masi the scapegoat for Bahrain was just after all. Nobody expressed these opinions prior to his “sacking” and the appointment of Vittich and Freitas. Maybe Seb is having a little dig at Toto here.

    1. @myrrve many people wanted Masi to go long before the final race and stated their opinions on why it should be replaced.

      1. I think whatever animosity existed toward him may have been based solely on the fact that he was not Charlie Whiting, a figure who was liked and highly respected throughout the paddock. Masi seemed a little aloof and unapproachable by comparison, arrogant even, some might say. There is no doubt that he screwed things up horribly in Bahrain and committed a blatant breach of the regulations so that in itself was sufficient basis for his removal (sacking).

        1. @myrrve
          What did he screw up horribly in Bahrain? I don’t recall anything that could realistically constitute as massively bad unless you mixed up with the 2020 Turkish GP Q2 start while a JCB was still carrying Latifi’s stricken car within the T8 runoff area.

          1. Well, he failed to allow all the lapped runners to unlap themselves after the restart, did he not? This was strictly against the letter of the law even if he seemed convinced it was the necessary thing to do at the time. You saw the major consequence that resulted vis a vis the outcome of the championship.

          2. Don’t worry guys, Jere knows fully well that you are all talking about Abu Dhabi and not Bahrain. He’s just trolling you.

          3. @jerejj I think you were joking but this article did happen where Masi had to defend his track limits policy https://www.racefans.net/2021/03/28/track-limits-policy-did-not-change-during-race-despite-hamiltons-warning-says-masi/

          4. @eurobrun @myrrve @alianora-la-canta
            I wasn’t joking or trolling actually.

          5. @jerejj In which case, yes, Masi breached the regulations in Bahrain as well as multiple other places last year.

    2. @myrrve Some of us asked for investigation of what was happening above the race director, but got laughed at (including by some people I believe should have known better than to take such an attitude). This is simply what happens when the FIA chooses to do the minimum amount possible to continue another day, instead of taking the problem as seriously as warranted. (And no, it’s not got them completely out of the woods regarding the 2021 championship either).

  6. I don’t know if I would agree that things have been super inconsistent this year & would actually say that I think things have been a little more consistent than was the case the past few years.

    I mean one of the biggest issues with consistency was track limits & how they weren’t just applied differently on different circuits but also at different corners on the same circuit. Now the rule is clear & applied the same everywhere so that already is better for consistency.

    You also can’t compare the pit entry/exit line rules in place last year to what we have this year as that is something that was changed after I believe after last year’s Turkish GP. I don’t necessarily agree with that particular change but it’s something that was apparently done under Masi so can’t be blamed on the new race directors.

    1. It’s also worth pointing out that just as was the case with Masi, A lot of the decisions that the race director gets blamed for aren’t actually down to the race director.

      Things like track limits were as they tend to be defined by the race directors notes & under Masi also tended to be something that would change a dozen times from day to day. But things like penalties for collisions & stuff in a race is down to the stewards & while the race director can forward things to them for review he has no say in the eventual decision.

      And actually a change I like which has been made on the TV graphics for this year is how it says ‘race control’ or ‘stewards’ when an investigation or penalty notice is displayed.

    2. @stefmeister Consistency was very good at the start of the season, but has deteriorated a bit still. Nonetheless, it was an improvement on last year until the abomination that was Monaco.

  7. He’s right, but I’m surprised he didn’t reference how Williams drivers escaped sanctioning for their blue flag ignorance while others (including him) got reprimanded for impeding earlier on the weekend.

  8. He’s right. Why penalize Carlos (with an added fine) yet not even investigate the Williams’ blue flags…

    1. Carlos’ reprimand and Ferrari’s fine were absolutely deserved. Completely stupid place to park a car, and I cannot even imagine what the Ferrari people were trying to achieve by actively giving their driver wrong information.

      1. @proesterchen Still double standard not to take any action against the Williamses for clearly breaching the event note paragraph 7 concerning lapping that specifically ”requires drivers who are caught by another car about to lap him to allow the faster driver past at the first available opportunity.”
        The worst part was they, especially+admittedly Albon, ignored their yield requirements deliberately.

        1. I don’t care if the stewards punish the Dorilton F1 drivers.

          I do care if someone wants to make the argument that what Carlos Sainz Jr and Ferrari did was somehow not worthy of the penalty they got.

      2. @proesterchen Either punish none of them or all of them. There’s no option within the rules to pick a third option. (Having a preference between “none” and “all”, which you do, is perfectly acceptable; I’m inclined to agree with your preference).

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