BARCELONA, Spain — Fernando Alonso has questioned the racing “knowledge” of one of Formula One’s new race directors after driver safety concerns raised in Miami were not acted upon.
The FIA has appointed two race directors this year, Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, to fill the role left by Michael Masi, who was moved out of the job following his controversial handling of last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Wittich has directed the first five races of the season and Freitas will take over for this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.
Speaking ahead of the race weekend in Barcelona, Alonso questioned whether Wittich had the relevant knowledge to do the job.
“We saw a couple of things already that proves that we still need to improve [the race directing] a lot,” Alonso said.
“Racing, you need to have some knowledge about racing before being a race director or trying to monitor a race. And I don’t think that knowledge is in place at the moment.
“I know there is a new race director here. I think Freitas has a lot more experience with WEC [World Endurance Championship] and other categories at the top level, and I think that will already improve things.”
Alonso referenced Wittich’s decision not to install additional protective barriers at Turn 14 in Miami after Carlos Sainz suffered a nasty accident at the corner during Friday practice.
A number of drivers raised concerns about the barriers on Friday evening but no changes were made for Saturday when Alonso’s Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon also had a big crash at the corner.
“Even the accident we had in Miami, Carlos and Esteban, I think we pushed to have some barriers there and tyres or Tecpro and, you know… no one did anything,” Alonso said. “When you don’t have that knowledge of racing it’s difficult to talk [about the relevant issues].”
Alonso also criticised the five-second time penalty he received for cutting a chicane during the race in Miami, which dropped him out of a points-paying position.
After the race Alpine argued that Alonso gave back any advantage gained by lifting off the throttle on the following straight, but Alonso said the stewards did not change the result when the new evidence emerged.
“Well it was unfair, we believe that it was very unfair and it was just incompetence from the stewards, so, yeah, they were not very professional I think in Miami,” Alonso said. “I missed one corner and then I gave back the time on the lap but obviously you miss one corner there is the sector time just after that corner, so they saw the pink colour [on the timing screen], and yeah, they took the decision without asking for any proof.
“We arrived after the race with all the proof and the time back that we gave and they were just packing up. They were not even in the room. We came there, we showed them all the data, they said give us five minutes and then they found themselves with the hands tied probably because they issued already the penalty and they didn’t know how to get back from that document.
“It was very bad, and honestly, I mean… yeah, it’s already the past but it is something that should not happen in Formula One, with professionalism and standards Formula One has right now. “