Formula 1 will continue to have multiple race directors going forward after introducing a new structure in 2022, says FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.
Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas rotated the role last year following the departure of Michael Masi at the end of the 2021 campaign.
Masi’s reign came to a conclusion in controversy as he was heavily criticised for how he handled the Safety Car restart on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which saw Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to the title.
But drivers and teams highlighted a lack of consistency throughout 2022 with two people fulfilling the role.
Despite their concerns, Ben Sulayem says that F1 will continue to operate with multiple people in the position, which he says acts as a contingency plan in the event that a problem arises with one of the personnel.
“There is a process now and I have a team who is going through a proper process and training for stewarding, and for race directors,” Ben Sulayem said at the Dakar Rally, as quoted by Autosport.
“You cannot just have one race director and rely on them. I see that we should prepare the second role. We cannot rely in the biggest discipline that we have, or any other discipline.
“What if something happened? If we are going to sustain motorsport, we have to be ready with training.
“I am a big believer that there is, somewhere in the world, better race directors than anyone, better stewards.
“Now we are reaching to the ASNs and we are asking them to send us people for the training, and we have a proper team now for the training. You will get good [officials]. I promise this.”
Ben Sulayem suggests Masi wanted out of FIA role
Following the fallout of the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP, the FIA conducted an investigation into the incident and concluded that human error was behind the controversy.
Masi departed the FIA soon after – but Ben Sulayem says that his exit was not solely a decision made by the governing body.
“It was also his choice,” he said. “I’d been talking to him at the beginning. There were human errors there, and I felt that he also wanted to just not go further, because of what he got from the social media, the toxic social media.
“I spoke to him, and it was unfair also for him. The FIA was always supportive. This is the same thing that’s happening to Silvia [Bellot, FIA steward], again to some of our members: threats.
“I got some threats also, to reverse the results, but I didn’t take them seriously.
“But now we stand against the toxic social media that will affect our sport. I am a big believer that if we don’t take a stand, we might find the damage will be beyond repair for our sport in the future.”