FIA steward hits out at Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s controversial decision

2022 saw two race directors share the role, with Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas having worked on a rotational-system.

FIA steward Emmanuele Pirro has questioned FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s intent on sticking with two race directors for 2023, after admitting that the system simply “cannot work”.

Several drivers hit out at the FIA last season for the inconsistency seen by race direction, with Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas having shared the role.

Whilst they shared the role, they didn’t actually work together, with the duo having taken it in turns to lead a race.

As a result, the drivers were unable to question the race director over an incident that happened at the previous event, due to someone else having been in charge.

READ: ‘At least in the right team’: Ex-Mercedes boss on Mick Schumacher

Pirro revealed that it is currently a “difficult situation”, with the FIA still recovering from the sudden death of Charlie Whiting in 2019.

Whiting was incredible, with the great man having run the championship superbly.

“It is a difficult situation because we are coming from a long period where one man, Charlie Whiting, was at the centre of everything: race director, safety representative and he was the point of contact for the drivers and the team bosses,” Pirro told

“Since Whiting’s death, there has been a crisis: Laurent Mekies, who was supposed to replace him, was brought in by Ferrari, Masi was removed from his position as everyone knows, leaving Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas as the best available, but alternation cannot work.

Article continues below

“You have to make sure there are more people ready, because the race director can only grow in his role that way, you cannot train him from outside.”

George Russell, who is head of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, is another person to ask for the return of just one race director, due to the fact that communication between the drivers and the race directors has become “frustrating”.

“It was frustrating sometimes when we were talking about a certain incident on track and the stewards who actually made that decision weren’t there to give their views on this,” Russell explained.

Despite the calls from inside the FIA and the drivers, Ben Sulayem appears set on there being two race directors once again this year, with the president being adamant that “you cannot have just one”.

READ: Ex-F1 champion making Mercedes ‘assumption’ for 2023

“There is a process underway,” revealed Ben Sulayem.

“We have a team working on the training of commissioners and race directors. You cannot have just one (director). I think you have to have a second option.

“We cannot trust ourselves because what if something happens. We have to be prepared for any contingency if we want to strengthen our sport.”