Ex-Formula 1 driver and current FIA steward Emanuele Pirro has pointed out how Scuderia Ferrari involuntarily played a significant part in the governing body’s “crisis” after the passing away of Charlie Whiting.
Long-time Formula 1 race director Charlie Whiting died ahead of the Australian Grand Prix three years ago.
His sudden death created a hasty reshuffle within the FIA race control, as Michael Masi was promoted to the role of race director.
Michael Masi continued as race director and safety delegate until he was removed from his role ahead of the start of the 2022 Formula One championship due to the way he handled the events in the controversial final round of the 2021 Formula 1 championship, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit.
After the Australian was removed from his position last year, Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas were called in to take on the race direction responsibilities in an alternating partnership.
Several controversies, however, during the 2022 Formula 1 campaign determined the governing body to drop the rotational system and keep Niels Wittich as sole race director for the final rounds of the previous championship.
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Emanuele Pirro, who left Formila 1 but went on to forge a successful endurance racing career, has pointed out how Ferrari’s call to sign Laurent Mekies as racing director made things even more difficult for the FIA:
“With Whiting gone, the system went into crisis,” the former F1 driver said in a recent interview for Corriere della Sera. “Laurent Mekies, who was supposed to replace him, was taken by Ferrari.” – he added.
After Michael Masi’s departure, Emanuele Pirro pointed out that “Wittich and Freitas were the best available, but alternation cannot work. You have to create a long bench because the race director can only grow in that room, you cannot recruit him from outside.” – he concluded.