Niels Wittich, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2022

Wittich takes over for rest of year as FIA ends rotating of race directors in F1

2022 United States Grand Prix

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The FIA is ending its practice of rotating the role of Formula 1 race director between two people just seven months after it was introduced.

The sport’s governing body made the change as a result of the controversial end to last year’s world championship. Michael Masi was ousted as race director after he failed to follow the FIA’s rules correctly in arranging a final-lap restart, which swung the outcome of the title-deciding race.

The FIA brought in Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas as race directors and arranged for the pair to share the role over the course of the 22-race season. However ahead of the 19th round this weekend, the FIA has confirmed the practice will end.

“For the remaining races of the 2022 Formula 1 season, the FIA will not use the system of rotating the role of race director,” it confirmed. “From the United States Grand Prix in Austin and the following races in Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi, Niels Wittich will assume the position of race director with the support of race control staff.”

Wittich took over the role having previously been the race director of the DTM. The announcement that he will see out the rest of the season was made following criticism of the handling of the Japanese Grand Prix, which was overseen by Freitas. The FIA acknowledged today a recovery vehicle was sent onto the circuit too soon in poor weather conditions at the start of the race.

Wittich has run the majority of races this year, beginning with the season-opening round in Bahrain. Prior to this weekend he had overseen 10 races including the first five. Freitas took over the role for the first time in Spain, then returned for Monaco, Canada, France, Hungary, the Netherlands, Singapore and Japan.

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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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5 comments on “Wittich takes over for rest of year as FIA ends rotating of race directors in F1”

  1. I hadn’t realised that all of the most questionable race direction this season (Monaco, Singapore and Japan) had come at races where Freitas was at the helm. Probably a wise decision to replace him, then.

  2. Not terribly surprised after such an incredibly boneheaded and dangerous decision, sending a crane out onto the track under these circumstances.

    Good to see the FIA following through with the findings. (despite the report reading like a list of excuses)

  3. Only for this season rather than for good, though, to be precise.

  4. FIA makes a good decision, write it in your diary. It doesn’t happen every day.

    1. They’ve just changed the ‘monkey’ but it is the organ grinder who is out of tune.

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