Christian Horner defends FIA amid criticism

A host of structural changes were made by new FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem ahead of this season.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes that the FIA are capable of fixing the problems that have been plaguing races so far in 2022.

Last year was shrouded in controversy throughout as race director Michael Masi tried his best to keep the intense fight between Red Bull and Mercedes under control, but inconsistency was rife throughout.

The biggest bone of contention arrived in the final race when the Australian allowed a limited number of lapped runners to pass the Safety Car at the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

This opened the door for Max Verstappen to pass Sir Lewis Hamilton for the title, as the championship was settled in bizarre and extraordinary circumstances.

READ: Christian Horner expecting Lewis Hamilton and George to fight Max Verstappen

The governing body accepted that there was “confusion” in race control due to the complexity of the regulations, and this was not helped by the high “turnover” of stewards and staff charged with reading and applying the law.

They also conceded that Masi had a lot of tasks to complete over the course of the race, but affirmed that the season finale was decided by a “human error.”

Masi was replaced by a combination of Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, who are alternating in the role, and support is being given to them by deputy Herbie Blash, who worked with the late Charlie Whiting for many years.

Also in use is a VAR-style system that is aimed at helping the race director come to fair conclusions, and all of these changes were brought in by new president Mohammed ben Sulayem.

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The Emirati took over from Jean Todt after the Frenchman served a maximum 12 years in office, but all has not been plain sailing for him thus far.

His first task was to sort the scorching magma that was still emanating from last year’s eruption, and he has since been trying to figure out how best to make for a more consistent sport.

Track limits and contact penalties have been under scrutiny, particularly from Fernando Alonso, whose alleged extraordinary rant at the Austrian Grand Prix was thought to be the reason Sebastian Vettel walked out of the briefing and picked up a suspended fine in the process.

Sergio Perez has been the subject of one or two confusions regarding track limits this campaign and, while Horner is naturally frustrated by this, he believes the sport is in an overall good place.

“[It is] always [frustrating], but you have got to worry about the things you can control, not the things you can’t,” he told GPFans.

“There’s always going to be frustrations, but you just got to deal with it and get on with it.

“I think the sport has never been in better health, wherever we go, there are record sell-out crowds. 

“The viewing figures are through the roof, interest in the sport is at an all-time high, the product’s great and the racing is strong. 

“I think generally we are going in the right direction, of course, there’s the odd bump in the carpet, but it’s only to be expected.”

The 48-year-old understands that there has been plenty of change at the helm of the pinnacle of motorsport lately, so he is not concerned by some of the issues that have presented themselves in race control in 2022.

“They’ve had big changes within their organisation in the last six months, it’s a work in progress, I’m sure they’ll sort it out,” added Horner.

“I think you will always want consistency, it’s the most important thing. 

READ: Christian Horner opens up on ‘frustrating’ Sergio Perez performances

“It’s easy to underestimate the roles that these guys do, making sure they have got the right supports around them is vital.”

Masi has since left the FIA and headed back to Australia, and he recently revealed that he and his family received death threats after the chaotic events at the Yas Marina Circuit in December.