FIA explains how VAR system will work in F1

The FIA has explained how Formula 1’s equivalent of VAR (Video Assistant Referee) will work, as well as revealing that it will now be called the Remote Operations Centre.

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C42, Nicholas Latifi, Williams FW44

The system is being implemented to provide additional support to on-site F1 race direction officials, following the controversy surrounding the conclusion of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

In its analysis of those events, where Red Bull driver Max Verstappen beat MercedesLewis Hamilton to the race win and that year’s world title after the rules surrounding the late-race safety car were incorrectly applied, the FIA concluded that its race director required outside assistance to relieve some of the pressures that had built up around that role over the years, as well as make full use of the high levels of coverage of all on-track action at F1 events.

Michael Masi, the F1 race director during the Abu Dhabi saga, has been replaced for 2022 by former DTM race director Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, who previously held the same role in the World Endurance Championship, and the pair will alternate throughout the coming campaign, with Wittich acting as the F1 race director for this weekend’s first round of the season.

Following the World Motor Sport Council meeting in Bahrain on Saturday ahead of this year’s F1 season opener in the same country, the FIA released the report covering the probe commissioned to analyse the Abu Dhabi controversy and at the same time gave an update on how the ROC system is being arranged.

The FIA explained that the “first phase” of building the ROC at its Geneva office is now complete, with the governing body adding that further development of the system is currently ongoing.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

An FIA statement explaining the ROC’s current capabilities reads: “Procedural and regulatory matters may be referred to the ROC, which operates in an advisory capacity and will not interrupt the workflow of the race direction team onsite or cause any delay to the decision-making process.

“While similar in principle to the ‘VAR’ in football, the ROC will act as a supporting resource for the race direction team with data comparable to that of more than 10 simultaneous football matches, including over 140 video and audio sources.

“The ROC provides an additional resource for the FIA to thoroughly replay and review aspects of the competition and the decisions made in order to refine and improve procedures for the future.

“It does not have any regulatory power and cannot be used to reassess or alter past decisions.”

The FIA says the ROC will "become a valuable training and educational resource for of the next generation of race control staff and stewards and that its benefits will later extend to other FIA Championships and the wider international community of FIA National Sporting Authorities (ASNs)".

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