Wolff encouraged by "necessary" FIA changes after Abu Dhabi F1 investigation

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff feels “optimistic” about the changes made to the FIA’s Formula 1 race operations after its Abu Dhabi investigation, saying it was “necessary” to restructure.

Wolff encouraged by "necessary" FIA changes after Abu Dhabi F1 investigation

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem announced a number of changes to how F1 races would be officiated on Thursday in the wake of the controversial end to last season’s championship showdown between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

Race director Michael Masi has been replaced by Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, while a new virtual race control room will support FIA officials. Herbie Blash, the long-serving number two to Charlie Whiting, also returns as a senior advisor.

Mercedes initially protested the race result in Abu Dhabi after seeing Hamilton lose the championship on the final lap restart. It ultimately dropped all action after the FIA confirmed its plans to investigate and reform.

Speaking at the launch of Mercedes’ new 2022 car on Friday, Wolff said he thought the “right steps have been taken” and that he was “optimistic about the changes that have been implemented”.

“Certainly the role of race director is not easy, and now we’re having two very experienced guys up there, that is good,” Wolff said.

“But the support structure that has been built around them is essential, not only in the race director’s room, but also with a remote control room where the race directors can rely on feedback and inputs to make the decision-making process easier for them.

“I believe that the last couple of years, we have seen a little bit of freestyle in the interpretation of the regulations. So yes, I’m happy with what has been implemented by the incoming president.”

Michael Masi, Race Director

Michael Masi, Race Director

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Wolff denied that Mercedes’ decision to drop its appeal had been linked to Masi’s exit, but he said the division that arose over some of race control’s decisions last year showed the need for change.

“The restructuring within how decisions are being made in Formula 1, sporting decisions have been made, and also technical decisions, was necessary,” Wolff said.

Read Also:

“Last year was a great season, but it created a lot of polarisation with decisions that were not always easy to understand.”

Hamilton was known to be disillusioned with the FIA’s decisions in Abu Dhabi following his defeat to Max Verstappen, and said on Friday that it was a “difficult time”, prompting him to step away from the F1 world over the winter.

Wolff said the decisions in Abu Dhabi remained “a shock” and “unprecedented”, but stressed the need to focus on the coming season as Hamilton goes in search of a record-breaking eighth world title.

“We have to move on from that,” Wolff said.

“I think it’s in the past, and with the measures that were announced yesterday by Mohammed, I think we need to put it aside.

“We are not going to forget it, because that’s simply not possible. But we need to look into 2022 and, especially today launching the car, it should be the moment that we can really, with the steps that have been taken by the FIA, embark with encouragement into the season.”

Read Also:
shares
comments

Related video

Friday favourite: The F1 champion who became a "perfect team-mate"
Previous article

Friday favourite: The F1 champion who became a "perfect team-mate"

Next article

The intriguing Mercedes discrepancy keeping its F1 rivals guessing

The intriguing Mercedes discrepancy keeping its F1 rivals guessing
Why Sainz is key to Ferrari achieving its chairman's F1 goals Plus

Why Sainz is key to Ferrari achieving its chairman's F1 goals

Although Ferrari's chances of title glory in 2022 have evaporated, chairman John Elkann expects the team to have chalked up both championships by 2026. Both require drivers to play the team game and, having now become more comfortable with the F1-75, Carlos Sainz may be Ferrari's key to title glory

How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes Plus

How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes

With Formula 1’s future engine regulations now agreed, MARK GALLAGHER wonders if they will provide a more competitive field than past attempts actually managed

Formula 1
Sep 26, 2022
How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era Plus

How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era

STUART CODLING charts the development of the Williams FW09, the ugly duckling that heralded the start of the title-winning Williams-Honda partnership

Formula 1
Sep 25, 2022
The Moss-Ferrari farce that current F1 drivers are thankfully spared Plus

The Moss-Ferrari farce that current F1 drivers are thankfully spared

Recent moves within the driver market have reminded MAURICE HAMILTON of a time when contracts weren’t worth the paper they weren’t written on…

Formula 1
Sep 24, 2022
Audi’s innovative first assault on grand prix racing Plus

Audi’s innovative first assault on grand prix racing

It has been a long time coming but Audi’s arrival in Formula 1 is finally on the horizon for 2026. But it won’t be its first foray into grand prix racing, as the German manufacturer giant has a history both long and enthralling

Formula 1
Sep 23, 2022
The seven factors powering Verstappen's 2022 F1 domination Plus

The seven factors powering Verstappen's 2022 F1 domination

After a tooth and nail and, at times, toxic Formula 1 world championship scrap last year, Max Verstappen's march to a second consecutive title has been the exact opposite. But has he really changed in 2022? Here's a dive into what factors have played a crucial role, both inside the Verstappen camp and elsewhere, in the Dutch driver's domination

Formula 1
Sep 23, 2022
Why Hamilton is still the man to keep driving Mercedes forward Plus

Why Hamilton is still the man to keep driving Mercedes forward

Lewis Hamilton’s words in a recent Vanity Fair interview define both his world-view and his approach to this season: one of perpetual struggle against adversity. As GP RACING explains, that’s what Lewis feeds off – and why, far from being down and nearly out, he’s using his unique skillset to spearhead Mercedes’ revival…

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2022
The time lag of ideas that offers intrigue over F1's future fight Plus

The time lag of ideas that offers intrigue over F1's future fight

The pecking order in 2022's Formula 1 season may look pretty static as the season draws to a close, but the unique nature of the cost cap means that preparation for next season takes precedence. New developments are being pushed back to 2023 - which could mask the technical development war ongoing...

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2022