Following a season of more black-and-orange flags than usual, the FIA’s technical director Nikolas Tombazis has admitted that the governing body ‘got it wrong’ during 2022.
Throughout the 2022 season, drivers were being shown the ‘meatball flag’ as soon as an endplate became wobbly, with the governing body having become relentlessly strict in regard to vehicle and driver safety.
The FIA’s strictness was as a result of them allowing Yuki Tsunoda to continue racing in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix with a taped-up rear wing, something that was truly remarkable to see.
Tombazis believes this situation prompted an “over-reaction” from the FIA for the remainder of the season, with Kevin Magnussen having been awarded three black-and-orange flags in 2022 despite the structural integrity of his VF-22 being safe.
“[We] had a situation in Baku where a car was let to run on with damage that really the car should not have been running with,” he explained.
“One of the AlphaTauris with rear wing damage taped up – that was a big risk. There we got it wrong,” he continued.
“Then I think that created a bit of an over-reaction where we started deeming cars unsafe even when they were on the limit, let’s say. So we went in the wrong direction, and took some corrective action after the US.”
Speaking more on the matter, Tombazis did admit that “it’s difficult” to judge when a car is truly damaged, but that in 2023 the flag will only be shown for “serious structural damage”.
“It’s difficult,” he asserted.
“We would still black-and-orange flag a car with serious structural damage, like Hamilton in Singapore for example when his wing was scraping the floor.
“But in 99 per cent of the cases the teams bring the cars in anyway themselves, so it removes the need for intervention.
“The teams are by and large quite responsible.”
Haas will be delighted that a driver will no longer be shown the flag for a “wobbly” endplate, something Magnussen was three times as mentioned.
The FIA admits that upon evaluation of their handling of the 2022 season, they “overreacted” when it came to using the black-and-orange flag.
“We wouldn’t show one for a wobbly front wing endplate,” he revealed.
“We analysed it, and overreacted a bit.”