Outgoing FIA president Jean Todt suggested the FIA has been too lenient of F1 teams and drivers being publicly critical of race officials.
The 2021 Formula 1 season was marred by a series of controversial incidents, prompting heavy criticism of FIA race director Michael Masi and of decisions made by stewards during multiple grands prix. This culminated at the season-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where Mercedes protested the result of the race after Lewis Hamilton lost the world championship on the final lap to Max Verstappen after a disputed late race restart.
Earlier today Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said Masi had robbed Hamilton of the championship. Todt feels his organisation may have been too willing to allow teams to be critical of race officials and the decisions they make.
“Of course, we can always improve,” Todt said. “But then, you need to behave as well.”
Todt made reference to Olympique Lyonnais president, Jean-Michel Aulas, receiving a 10-match ban – five of which are suspended – from the French Football Federation after comments he made to a referee following a recent game.
“I was reading today in the French sport magazine L’Equipe, the president of the Lyon football club – which is one of the most important teams – he has been forbidden for 10 games because he’s spoke badly about the referee,” explained Todt. “So maybe we are being too permissive, you know?
“On one side, I feel it is important to have a dialogue between the governing body, between the teams, between the drivers, between the commercial rights holders, but it should not go against us.”
After deciding not to formally appeal over the race, Mercedes vowed to “hold the FIA accountable” after the governing body announced they would hold a “detailed analysis and clarification exercise” into the incident. The team also boycotted the annual FIA prize giving gala in Paris, which they were required to send representatives to as Hamilton finished second in the drivers’ championship with Mercedes winning the constructors’ title.
Todt says the FIA will analyse actions taken by both race control and stewards from throughout the 2021 season to try and make the rules of racing clearer for all competitors, but dismissed any suggestion that race officials fail to remain impartial in their decision making.
“In a way, it’s human behaviour,” said Todt. “You see, Max after the first corner when Lewis overtook him on the right side, he said ‘I’m [being] persecuted’. I mean, believe it or not, nobody is [being persecuted], but it’s the perception. So in the heat of the action, you have your own feelings.
“On the other side, you have the race director, you have the stewards who have a lot of organisation. Are we perfect? We are not perfect. And incidentally, that’s why I’ve suggested to have a full review to see what needs to be improved in light of what has happened. But not only at this race, but what has happened over the year.”
Todt steps down tomorrow as FIA president at the end of his third and final term. An election will be held tomorrow, with FIA members voting to determine Todt’s successor.
The former Ferrari F1 team principal says he still maintains a love for the sport’s premier category.
“Incidentally, I was watching the [Abu Dhabi Grand Prix],” said Todt. “Tomorrow, I leave this position, but I still love Formula 1. I will still watch the grand prix.”
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