FIA chiefs and F1 drivers’ split grows as more concerns raised ahead of Azerbaijan GP

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The ongoing split between the FIA and the current crop of Formula One drivers is showing no signs of reaching an amicable conclusion ahead of this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The all-new race director pairing of Niels Wittich and Eduardo Fritas has been slammed by a number of prominent figures on the grid, with their handling of events having made the headlines on more than a few occasions since the beginning of the new campaign.

Plenty of drivers have already criticised the FIA as a result of their inconsistent decision-making at Grand Prix weekends, with the problem having been highlighted after F1’s latest outing on the streets of Monaco earlier this month. Yuki Tsunoda expressed his dissatisfaction with the working methods of the new race directors due to their lack of experience when compared to Michael Masi, who was relieved of his duties after last year’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“I’m not trusting the FIA, every time it’s super inconsistent,” the AlphaTauri driver told “I got already four reprimands, and the last time in Monaco, I still don’t know why.

“I mean, it’s not good to say what other drivers were doing, but other drivers were doing even worse things and they don’t have any investigation, whereas other races they [the FIA] were suddenly getting strict or something like that.

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“So probably if someone cross the white line there would be a penalty for some races. For me, I’ll just stick to what the regulation [says] or just the safest as much as possible to not get in any trouble.”

Tsunoda’s comments have since been echoed by four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, who believes the sport would reap the rewards of having a more experienced race director following Masi’s dismissal at the end of last year. The 44-year-old was sacked after his mistake in dictating which lapped cars would be allowed to un-lap themselves in Abu Dhabi handed Max Verstappen his first Drivers’ Championship title at the expense of Lewis Hamilton.

“What we are missing now is the experience that Michael had and brought to the job because he did it for so long and grew up with it,” Vettel told The Independent when quizzed on the row surrounding the FIA’s new race directors.

“It is not an easy position now because there is more focus and more spotlight on what is happening at race control. But I hope things calm down and we find a way to work together, as in the drivers and the FIA.

“You cannot make everybody happy, but we need to try and make both sides more happy.”


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