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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Russell requires FIA to stay to 1 F1 race director

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The FIA handed Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel a suspended €25,000 fine over his behaviour in Friday’s briefing on the Pink Bull Ring, which is known to have seen tensions flare over how races are being officiated, leading to Vettel storming out.

Because the begin of the season and the axing of former race director Michael Masi, the FIA has used two race directors, rotating between Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas.

However the rotation has led to the consistency of selections and penalties coming into query, in addition to some uncertainty from drivers over racing guidelines on-track.

Talking after Vettel’s summons was issued by the FIA, Mercedes F1 driver and GPDA director Russell stated there “must be a component of consistency” in selections, noting there have been “lots of borderline selections or manoeuvres” up to now this season.

Requested if the rotation of race administrators was an issue, Russell replied: “Sure, I do agree that we have to stick to 1 race director.

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“We have to have a bit extra consistency with the stewarding. We come to the next occasion and infrequently the steward within the earlier occasion is just not there. So there isn’t any accountability, no explanations of selections.

“We ask questions, and it is troublesome to get an easy reply as a result of nearly a bit blame is being put onto someone else who is not there.

“So it’s difficult. Everyone’s acquired their very own interpretations.”

George Russell, Mercedes W13, Esteban Ocon, Alpine A522

Photograph by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

The FIA moved to restructure its race operations within the wake of the controversial finish of the 2021 season when Masi didn’t implement at the very least two articles of the sporting laws, ensuing within the last-lap restart that noticed Max Verstappen cross Lewis Hamilton to win the championship.

This included the rotation between Wittich and Freitas, in addition to the introduction of a new virtual race control room. The late Charlie Whiting’s former deputy, Herbie Blash, additionally returned to the FIA as a senior advisor.

Russell accepted that it was “certainly not a simple job” for the officers, however careworn the necessity for consistency.

“Over the course of the yr, quite a lot of drivers commented on that,” Russell stated. “I feel whenever you’ve acquired one race director, issues can usually be extra constant.”

Wittich has served because the race director for almost all of races this yr, and has appeared to take a far stricter strategy with drivers in comparison with earlier years.

This has prolonged to subjects such as wearing jewellery or the correct underwear in the car, resulting in some frustration from drivers.

Observe limits has additionally been one thing Wittich has enforced extra strictly, defining the white line as the sting of the observe.

“It is so troublesome for us drivers in the meanwhile judging a white line, you possibly can’t really feel a white line,” Russell stated.

“The racing facet by facet, if you happen to get pushed off, you are gonna hold your foot in making an attempt to assault the top of the subsequent nook. But when there is a gravel entice there or one thing else that can penalise you, each drivers will strategy it in another way.”

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Sergio Perez, Pink Bull Racing RB18

Photograph by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Requested if the drivers felt listened to by the FIA, Russell replied: “We do really feel listened to, however they can not simply change the foundations week in, week out when one driver pipes up and says I feel this, I feel that.

“They do want to stay to their weapons. Nevertheless it simply must be enforced persistently, it must be clear to all of us. The penalties should be a bit extra constant.

“That may solely come if there’s consistency from the individuals policing the laws.”

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Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff stated he heard that drivers “acquired pissed off concerning the debate that’s concerning the pit entry line and the place it ought to be” following a tweak to the occasion notes forward of Saturday’s working.

“That is what I heard, they’re getting entangled in subjects which might be in all probability not making the highest 50 priorities,” Wolff stated. “However I have never been there, so it is slightly bit by means of the hearsay mill.”

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