Jean Todt feels that the FIA has maybe been too “permissive” with F1 teams regarding their contact with race director Michael Masi.
Communication between Masi and the teams has been under the spotlight this year following the sport’s decision to broadcast the radio messages the two parties exchange during races.
On a number of occasions, Red Bull and Mercedes staff members have been heard heavily criticising the decisions of the race director and his stewards and trying to influence him.
Looking at how things are dealt with in football in his home country of France, Todt wonders if he and the FIA have been too permissive, especially given the controversial season finale in Abu Dhabi which started with Christian Horner sending angry messages to Masi and ended with Toto Wolff doing so.
“I was reading today in L’Equipe, the president of Lyon Football Club, which is one of the most important teams, he has been forbidden for 10 games because he spoke badly about the referee, so maybe we are being a bit permissive,” he said as per Motorsport Week.
“On one side I feel it is important to have the dialogue between the governing body, between the team, between the drivers, between the commercial rights’ holder, but it should not go against us.
“I will still watch the grand prix, and in a way it is human behaviour, you see Max [Verstappen] after the first corner when Lewis [Hamilton] overtook him on the right side, and he said ‘hmm, I am persecuted!’ I mean. He is not. Nobody is, but it is perception.
And so in the heat of the action, I mean, you have your own feeling. On the other side you have the Race Director, you have the stewards, you have a lot of organisation and are we perfect? We are not perfect.
“Incidentally that’s why I have suggested to have a full review, to see what needs to be improved in light of what has happened, not only at this race [in Abu Dhabi] but what has happened over the year.”
Toto Wolff: "You need to reinstate the lap before, that's not right."
Michael Masi: "Toto, it's called a motor race. We went car racing."
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) December 12, 2021
Wolff didn’t hold back on the radio to Masi in the closing stages of the final race when the Aussie decided to have the five backmarkers between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen under the Safety Car get out of the way, allowing the Dutchman to overtake the Brit at the restart.
Speaking a few days later. he admitted he needed to do better in that department and doesn’t feel he and his fellow team principals should be able to contact the race director going forward.
“I need to take myself by the nose, and Christian,” he said.
“They were giving us the opportunity to talk to the Race Director directly and because we fight so fiercely, [and we have] the interest of our teams, all of us overstepped.
“This certainly was part of the failures this year that, under pressure from the team principals also, the Race Director’s life wasn’t made easier, certainly. So we need to come back. The team principals shouldn’t speak directly to the Race Director, it should be the Sporting Director.
“I’ll go one step further: I don’t think the Sporting Director should be lobbying the Race Director or exercising pressure. They should be pointing to situations they might not have spotted that the Race Director or his colleagues might not have spotted, but not lobby, not pressurise.”
Should radio access to race directors be restricted?
Toto Wolff believes that radio access to race directors should be restricted.