Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, agrees that team principals shouldn’t be able to contact the race director by radio.
For those who are new to the sport, team bosses being able to speak with race control was only adopted this year. Normally, each team’s sporting director was the only point of audio contact with race control. But many on the grid, Wolff included, believed that it would be good for fans to get a peek behind the curtain and hear some extra drama. However, they are now singing a different tune.
This comes in the aftermath of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after conversations between team bosses and race director, Michael Masi, influenced the decisions made which resulted in Max Verstappen’s controversial victory.
After the race, F1 managing director, Ross Brawn, made suggestions that the team bosses should no longer be talking to race control. And Wolff is on board too, despite being an early advocate for its implementation.
“I agree with Ross,” Wolff told Motorsport.com. “But I equally blame Ross and myself because we have been part of the decision making to broadcast more of the channels for the purpose of transparency and entertainment for the fans.
“There is so much going on on the intercom that giving fans a little bit of an overview of all the little dramas that happen, like is the car breaking down, are we having some king of strategy discussions, was meant well. But I think we overshot.
“I need to take myself by the nose, and Christian. We were given the opportunity to talk to the race director directly, and because we fight so fiercely for the interests of our teams all of us overstepped.
“It certainly was part of the failures this year that under pressure from the team principals also the race director’s life wasn’t made easier, certainly.”
It seems that the 2021 season is receiving backlash for leaning into its newest feature, reality television, that has given the sport so many new fans. Drive to Survive, it seems, is a double-edged sword. On one hand you are getting new people into the sport, on the other, these new fans were hooked on the drama of the show and not just the racing itself. It’s this kind of pressure that was likely on Michael Masi’s mind when he made the decisions he did at Abu Dhabi.
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