Red Bull’s Helmut Marko wants Formula 1 to lose the “random” feel of its on-track decision-making now a new FIA president is in town.
While the 2021 season will rightly be remembered as one of the greatest campaigns Formula 1 has produced, there were also plenty of fingers pointed at Race Control and their handling of incidents throughout the campaign.
Track limits was the reason for a chunk of the indecision – Max Verstappen went unpunished in Brazil despite forcing himself and Lewis Hamilton off the track and keeping his lead, yet a few rounds later in Saudi Arabia he was told to concede his position to Hamilton several times and hit with a five-second penalty.
It was then Hamilton who went off track at the season finale in Abu Dhabi, fending off Verstappen’s attack for the lead by cutting through the run-off area but no action was taken.
The biggest drama of that race, and the season in general, was saved for last though in the form of a late Safety Car period when race director Michael Masi allowed one last lap of racing, but only after the lapped cars in between Verstappen in P2 and leader Hamilton had overtaken.
Verstappen had taken advantage of a ‘free’ pit-stop under Safety Car conditions, so with fresher tyres he passed Hamilton on the last lap and went on to take the win and the title at the end of a race largely dominated by Hamilton.
Ever since that controversial end to his title pursuit Hamilton has remained silent, also yet to respond to messages from new FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.
Marko then wants to see an improvement in how races are handled, with a more co-ordinated set of rules rather than keeping the feel of last season that a lot of it was made up as went along.
Speaking to ServusTV, Marko said: “We have a new FIA president, and what I have heard from him so far sounds good.
“He wants to innovate and I think we should think about the motto Niki Lauda came up with – ‘let them race’. That has to be the starting point.
“There is no consistency to be seen in the decisions and therefore we get the feeling it all looks random.
“The rules need to be more precise, but the stewards also need to express themselves more clearly and make better decisions.
“We need to know if we do this or that, we will get this or that penalty. Not this one time and that one time again.”
For the first time in 2021 communications between the teams’ pit walls and race director Masi were broadcast, a feature which at first was welcomed but later served to highlight a major flaw.
In particular at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, both Mercedes and Red Bull were barking at Masi throughout the process of him trying to handle that late drama.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes team bosses should be banned from communicating with the race director going forward, an idea backed by the series’ managing director Ross Brawn.
And Marko too believes that would be a wise decision.
“Just imagine. Masi sometimes only has seconds, maybe 10 or so, to make decisions,” Marko explained.
“The team manager should actually take messages from team bosses and pass them on to the race director because he should be free to decide.
“The race director should not have anyone nagging at his head and a decision should be made without anyone being able to influence the decision.
“Then I believe all the incidents, which mainly affected us at Red Bull but also other teams like Mercedes, can be avoided.”