Toto Wolff is optimistic that the changes put in place by FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem's plan to prevent a repeat of last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will make the race director’s decision-making process easier.
After the F1 commission met in London earlier this week to discuss changes regarding how races are policed, Ben Sulayem announced yesterday his plans to improve the quality of decision making during a Grand Prix weekend, with a Virtual Race Control Room that is similar to football’s VAR system being implemented for 2022.
In addition, DTM's former race director Niels Wittich and WEC's current race director Eduardo Freitas will alternate as race directors after Michael Masi was offered a new role within the FIA.
Wolff, who spoke to selected media outlets which included MotorLat, believes that these new rules will help make the race director’s life more manageable as well as bring to times ’freestyle’ interpretation of the regulations:
“The right steps have been taken, and I'm optimistic about the changes that have been implemented. Certainly, the role of a race director is not easy. And now we're having two very experienced guys up there.
"That is good, but the support structure that has been built around them is essential not only in the race directors room but also with a remote control room where the race directors can rely on feedback and input to make the decision-making process easier for them. I believe that (in) the last few years or 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.”
Despite sending an appeal to the sport's governing body regarding the result of the final race of the season, Mercedes dropped their case on the eve of the FIA prize-giving gala in Paris, with rumours spreading that the team had dropped their appeal in exchange for the dismal of both Masi and the FIA’s head of single-seaters Nikolas Tombazis.
But Wolff quashed those rumours stating that it was untrue that the team had dropped their appeal in exchange for the pair’s dismissal from their respective roles. He also expressed his opinion that the race in Abu Dhabi was not fixed, and it was instead a case of circumstance and decision making going against Mercedes in the final laps.
“So us dropping the appeal, linked to anyone leaving the FIA is not true. I don't know where that comes (from). I think that the restructuring within how decisions are being made in Formula One, sporting decisions have been made and also technical decisions wasn't necessary. Last year was a great season, but it created a lot of polarisation with decisions that were not always easy to understand.”
“No, nothing is fixed. It was just circumstances and decisions that were unprecedented and how they came about certainly for us was a shock. Three laps to the end, we got a message that the lapped cars were not allowed to unlap themselves. And three minutes later, four minutes suddenly, there were two messages that came out of nowhere. Now obviously, we know what happened in the background unknown to us. And then the championship was gone. We didn't literally half a minute of the decision-making process, and that's is unprecedented. But also, we have to move on from that.
“I think it's in the past, and with the measures that were announced yesterday by Mohammed, I think we need we need to put it aside, and 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; this should be the moment that we can really with the steps that have been taken by the FIA embark with encouragement into the season.”