Traditionally, the sports director is the only radio contact point between the pit wall and the race direction in case of communication need during GPs. This year, F1 and FIA have agreed to broadcast some conversations between the teams and Michael Masi for the first time to give fans additional behind-the-scenes insight.
As the season progressed, Toto Wolff and Christian Horner, managers of the Mercedes and Red Bull Racing teams, sometimes took over from their respective sporting directors, Ron Meadows and Jonathan Wheatley, and used the communication channel to attempt to influence the decisions of the race director, and both were active in the closing moments of the Abu Dhabi GP.
Horner demanded that cars positioned in front of Max Verstappen be allowed to split, which was done solely for them in defiance of Rule 48.12, while Wolff made his feelings clear after the controversial decision, after asking earlier in the race for there to be no safety car when Antonio Giovinazzi stopped off track.
After the race, F1 general manager Ross Brawn suggested that team bosses should no longer be allowed to use the race direction channel. « I agree with Ross »Wolff replied when Motorsport.com asked him if he shared the same point of view. « But I also blame Ross and myself for being part of the decision to broadcast more channels for the sake of transparency and entertainment for the fans. »
« There is so much going on in communications that giving fans a glimpse of all the little things that are happening like the car that breaks down, the strategy discussions, it all started with good intention. . But I think we’ve gone too far. «
“I have to take it out on myself, and Christian. We were given the opportunity to speak directly to the clerk of the course, and because we are fighting so fiercely for the interests of our teams, we all went Too far. It has certainly been part of the failures of this year that, under pressure from the team managers, the life of the race manager has certainly not been made any easier. «
Michael Masi, race director
Wolff suggested that not only should team directors be banned from speaking to the clerk of the course, but there should also be limits on what sporting directors can do.
« We have to go back », did he declare. « I think the team directors shouldn’t speak directly to the clerk of the course, it should be the sporting directors. I’m going to take it one step further and say that I don’t think the sporting directors should put pressure on the clerk of the course. or exert pressure. They should point out situations that the clerk of the course or his colleagues may not have spotted, but no lobbying, no pressure. «