Lack of clarity from the race committee derails Formula 1

06-12-2021 08:05
by GPblog.com
Column
Lack of clarity from the race committee derails Formula 1

One week you can defend off the track and the next week you can't. Rules that are clearly defined are not enforced. When even long term F1 followers can't understand it anymore, you know the FIA and the stewards are derailing this sport.

Chaos in Saudi Arabia

It all started on Saturday, with the stewards seemingly losing control of the situation. Drivers were clearly in each other's way, even touching (in the case of Bottas and Raikkonen), but nothing seemed to prompt the stewards to investigate. Possibly due to the fact that everyone had long since established that it is not possible to race in Jeddah at all.

The amount of moments where you could say "this could have been much worse" could not be counted on one hand. The organisation got away with it because the numerous incidents were no coincidence. The circuit is simply too narrow and too fast to guarantee safe racing. It's only about thrills in the desert, but this has nothing to do with racing anymore.

Maybe the stewards realised that and that's why they didn't intervene during qualifying on Saturday. They may have thought 'there's not much they can do about it', but this is the essence of the problem with the current race management. There is no clear line anymore.

F1 misses Whiting

Christian Horner was harsh in his judgement, but he was right. The situations we saw in Brazil and now in Saudi Arabia would never have happened under Charlie Whiting. The previous race director was perhaps too strict in some cases, but with him drivers and fans knew where the line was. Now that boundary is not a small grey area, but a complete grey jungle.

There is no logic in what the race control is doing now and that makes for some extraordinary scenes. In my opinion, Max Verstappen should never have been allowed to get away with his defensive action in Brazil. You can defend up to the racing line, but you can't get metres off the track, take your opponent and get away with it, can you? Under the guise of 'we'll let them race' the race committee tried to get away with it, but the problems are now only getting bigger.

What Verstappen did in Saudi Arabia in the first corner of lap 37 was identical to his action in Brazil. Again he did not make the turn and Hamilton had to take evasive action to avoid crashing. If the action in Brazil is approved this should also be possible, but now Verstappen suddenly had to give his spot back. How can the same incident be judged so differently from race to race?

Where does the race committee draw the line?

The same goes for Hamilton running wide. In the first corner of the first restart and in the last corner when overtaking Verstappen, Hamilton drives the Dutchman completely off the track. Hamilton himself stays within the lines, but does not give space to his competitor. In both cases there is an emergency lane, so Verstappen doesn't have to hit the brakes.

In both cases no attention is given to Hamilton's action, which I understand because he stays within the lines. If you overtake from the outside you simply lie on the penalty spot, but how do we do that with run-off lanes? Verstappen was driven wide in the first corner, drives on and then has to give up his spot? This is strange though. Should he hit his brakes because he was pushed off track and lose more places? What is the solution according to the race direction?

Incomprehensible Formula 1

For over 20 years I have been watching Formula 1 and never (not even as a little kid) have I understood so little about it. The race director is just messing around and makes the sport hard to follow for insiders, but especially for people who just started watching.

The solution is simple. A little less laissez-faire from Masi and a little more dictatorship from Whiting. A combination would be nice. Yes, we want to see drivers race, but with equal rules. Racing is done inside the racing lines. Up to that line you can defend, if you cross it you always have to give up your spot or you can always continue racing. One of the two answers please and not changing per race. When defending you are not allowed to go outside the racing line, because then you did not make the turn and you have to give up your spot.

We also have to follow other rules. If you don't keep more than ten car lengths of distance during the warm-up lap, you should be penalised. Otherwise, the rule might as well be scrapped. Rules only make sense if they are enforced. Otherwise, you might as well delete them from your book.

This column was written by Tim Kraaij and originally published on the Dutch edition of GPBlog.com. 

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