FIA president can’t ‘buy race directors on Google or Amazon’

FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem is insistent that race directors must be trained over several years to be fit for a role in Formula 1.

Not for the first-time this season, the race directors came under fire yet again at the recent Monaco Grand Prix, resulting in a stark comment from the FIA president himself.

Drivers and teams were left puzzled as to the lengthy delay of the recent race in Monaco, which started almost an hour after it should’ve done due to heavy rain.

This wasn’t the only issue raised, with the official race clock also causing chaos amongst the field.

Despite the race being red-flagged, the race clock continued to count down even though it should have stopped.

It was arguably the most chaotic event for the race directors since the controversial 2021 season finale, which saw Michael Masi removed from his position as a result.

To reduce the pressure on a sole race director, Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas have so far shared the role this season.

It was decided that two race directors was better than one, as a result of mounting pressure and the vast amount of travel the role involves.

READ: Red Bull reveal when they will bring upgrades, change brake cooling

Having two race directors halves the responsibility, however, FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has made his opinion known that he wants three race directors in the future.

Article continues below

The FIA President recently discussed his plans for both the FIA and race directors going forward.

“It starts with my role. The federation needs to be broad enough to allow the sport to continue to grow without this being tied to any one person,” Ben Sulayem said.

“We have a great many tasks ahead of us. Formula 1 alone is a huge challenge. The GP drivers have asked me to take care of the Race Control issue. But I can’t very well search for new race directors on Google or buy them on Amazon. Race directors have to be trained carefully and over years.

“I go back to my experience in rallying on that. Back then, we had a rotation principle for the co-drivers, for example, so it wasn’t bad if a co-driver dropped out.

“In Formula 1, we have to be much more diversified. That was one of the reasons for the introduction of the Virtual Race Control, an operations centre in Geneva which supports the Race Control at the GP venue.”

A name for the future is Ronnie Søgård Andersen, the 34-year-old recently won the Charlie Whiting award following a “comprehensive test” that saw him show “knowledge and competency demonstrated at national and international level” on race directorship.

READ: ‘He’s up against Lando’: McLaren heap praise onto Norris while firing warning about Ricciardo

Andersen is very much a strong candidate to become potentially a F1 race director in the future, however, Ben Sulayem was adamant that a challenging process would be put in place to train the next generation of race directors.

“The race directors of the future will be trained in Geneva,” said the FIA president.

“We achieve three goals at the same time – training, the current race stewards get more practice and we have more experts on hand when there is an emergency.”

Andersen is already one step ahead, with his prize for winning the Charlie Whiting award including the chance to shadow current race directors.