FIA to defy drivers and continue with controversial move

Two race directors were introduced for the 2022 season following Michael Masi's controversial handling of the 2021 season finale.

Formula 1 drivers and the FIA are set to clash once again, with the governing body having gone against feedback from GDPA director George Russell, who shared the drivers’ wish for one race director, not two as seen last season.

The drivers’ wish has been crushed by FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who has confirmed that Formula 1 “cannot have just one director”.

On paper, two race directors does make sense, given the rapidly growing calendar and increased amount of travelling, something which is understandably a lot for a single individual to deal with.

The issue is, though, that having two race directors has a massive effect on the consistent delivery of the rules and regulations, something that was an issue last season.

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After Michael Masi was dropped as race director, the FIA put in place Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas to share the responsibility; however, it didn’t work as planned.

Both directors interpreted and implemented the rules differently, something which resulted in the drivers asking the FIA for “consistency”.

Freitas was actually suspended from the role after the Japanese Grand Prix, where Pierre Gasly almost crashed into a tractor.

Wittich was also criticised for his handling of the United States Grand Prix, where Fernando Alonso was allowed to continue despite carrying heavy damage to his A522, after going airborne.

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Ben Sulayem insists, though, that one race director isn’t the answer, with a “process” being “underway” to assign two race directors 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.”

Russell tried explaining that himself and the other drivers “believe that having the rotation isn’t the best thing for a sport, for that consistency.”

Russell added by saying: “We’ve never had a steward from a previous event at the following race to talk about any certain decisions, I believe.”

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Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas has also explained why one race director should be the way forward, with that one person then being able to gain an understanding of the drivers personally.

“One [race director] would be better than two or three. That’s my feeling,” Bottas said.

“The same person in each race, you always have the same person to discuss with if he’s been in all the races before and taken all the feedback and kind of knows our view.”