“We were given the opportunity to speak directly to the race director and because we fight so fiercely for the interests of our teams, we have all overstepped the mark,” said the Mercedes team principal.
By James Galloway
Last update: 12/31/21 2:09 p.m.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff agrees with suggestions that F1 team bosses should not be able to speak to the F1 race director by radio.
Communications between team pit walls and race control have long been commonplace, but only began to be heard on the global television feed from the middle of this season.
The messages broadcast included the more traditional exchanges between the sporting directors and Michael Masi, the race director, but also featured interventions from team principals, including Red Bull’s Wolff and Christian Horner.
Wolff and Horner’s comments amid the Abu Dhabi GP’s controversial end to the season have been compared to the F1 equivalent of managers pressuring the referee in football.
F1 managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn has since suggested in the German press that in-race communication between team principals and the race director should be stopped, and Wolff said: “I am of agreement with Ross, but I also blame Ross and myself because we were part of the decision to broadcast more channels for the sake of transparency and entertainment for the fans.
“There’s so much going on on the intercom that giving the fans a little insight into all the little dramas that are happening – does the car break down, do we have some kind of strategic discussion? – was well intentioned. but I think we exceeded.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner reflects on the events in Abu Dhabi and Max Verstappen’s latest F1 title victory.
“I have to take myself by the nose. And Christian. We were given the opportunity to speak directly to the race director and because we fight so hard for the interests of our teams, we all went over the line.
“It is certainly part of the failures of this year that, under pressure from the team principals, the race director’s life has not been made easier. So we have to come back.”
Wolff added: “Team managers shouldn’t talk directly to the race director, it should be the sporting directors.
“I would go even further; I don’t think sport directors should put pressure on the race director or put pressure on them. They should point out situations that the race director and his colleagues might not have. spotted. But no lobbying or pressure.”
Wolff hopes Abu Dhabi will trigger changes in F1
Experience the incredible conclusion of the Abu Dhabi GP in the cars of Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton and listen to team radios, including Hamilton saying the race was ‘manipulated’.
“The whole decision-making system needs to be improved,” Wolff said as he reflected on Abu Dhabi’s controversial handling of the safety car period and what he believes has been inconsistent application of the rules while throughout the season.
Following discussions with Mercedes in the days following the season finale last week, the FIA has pledged to carry out a comprehensive review of the Abu Dhabi GP and work with drivers and teams to provide ” clarity… to participants, media and fans on the current regulations. preserve the competitive nature of our sport while ensuring the safety of drivers and officials”.
Wolff is optimistic that the process will lead to tangible change from 2022.
“In the era of transparency, such decisions can no longer be made in backroom deals,” he said.
“Why I’m optimistic is that most people in the sport will share my frustration with the decisions that have been made throughout the year. All the riders, you guys, us, know what happened. pass.
“So all the same, I’m confident because we’re all going to pull on the same string in the same direction. The teams, and I have had feedback from the teams, and from the drivers. I had assurances of [FIA secretary general of Motor Sport] Peter Bayer and Stefano [Domenicali, F1 president] that in the weeks and months to come, we will close the gaps that have grown more and more in recent years.”
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said he and seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton were disillusioned and the driver would never recover from what happened on the final lap in Abu Dhabi.
Despite still feeling a strong sense of injustice over the sequence of events that led to Max Verstappen overtaking Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the season to win the world title, Mercedes have opted not to press ahead with it. an appeal to the FIA’s own International Court.
Explaining why they made this decision despite continued and widespread outcry over what happened, Wolff said: “I can understand the frustrations of many and to be honest I have the same. I’m also in two minds all the time between my point of view and my judgment on the legal situation, and my realism as to the outcome of such a procedure.
“There is a difference between being right and maintaining justice and I don’t think that at this moment we are set up at the level of our governance to find ourselves in a situation that would have given us remedy and reinstated the result that we was taken off Lewis before the final lap of the race.
“That’s why with a heavy heart we decided not to appeal because we wouldn’t have gotten the result back. Now I think we have the right tools in hand to make sure that the decision-making at the future is better.
“We will hold the FIA and decision-makers accountable to make the sport more robust and decision-making more robust and consistent.”