When Mohammed Ben Sulayem became president of the FIA towards the end of 2021, he was given the task of clearing up the mess of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The controversial decision making by race director Michael Masi essentially handed the title to Max Verstappen, which previously looked set to be won by Lewis Hamilton.
Masi was sacked by the FIA in the wake of the 2021 season finale and Ben Sulayem make the decision to appoint two race directors for the 2022 season, in the form of Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas.
Both race directors were not without their controversies in 2023 unfortunately, with Freitas being sacked in the wake of the Japanese Grand Prix, where a recovery crane was deployed on track in extreme wet conditions, scarily reminiscent of the Jules Bianchi tragedy at the same circuit.
It has also been heavily rumoured that Wittich could also be replaced this season, after he was forced to reverse his decision on Haas’ appeal against Alpine as the US Grand Prix, after telling the team they had one hour to launch a protest, rather than half an hour.
Motorsport.com have now reported that the FIA have reversed their decision to replace Wittich, claiming that he will now be retained as one of the two race directors for the upcoming season.
Ben Sulayem has recently been speaking on the state of the FIA and has suggested that things have improved since he took over as president in 2021.
As well as noting the clear improvement, the FIA president has revealed that there will be structured training taking place in the next month.
“I inherited a lot. I won’t say it was a good inheritance, but I am very happy that the pathway for race directors and for stewards is going well,” he said at the recent Monte Carlo Rally.
“There will be in February the training in the FIA headquarters, and you will see changes an evolution thereafter.
“Who is in charge of the pathway? An ex-rally co-driver, Mr [Ronan] Morgan. So you see, they are very structured people. Very analytical. You can say rally co-drivers are more structured than the rally drivers.”
With only a month to go before pre-season testing in Bahrain, the FIA will hope to have the race director situation finalised in the next couple of weeks, avoiding any uncertainty heading into the season.