Wolff: Team boss radio chat with F1 race control should be banned

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Traditionally, the sporting director has been the sole point of audio contact between the pit wall and race control should the need for communication arise during races.

This year F1 and the FIA agreed to broadcast selected conversations between the teams and Michael Masi for the first time in order to give fans extra insight.

As the season has progressed both Wolff and Red Bull team boss Christian Horner have on occasion taken over from their respective sporting directors Ron Meadows and Jonathan Wheatley and used the communication channel in an attempt to influence decisions in race control, and both were active in the closing stages of the Abu Dhabi GP.

Horner called for the lapped cars between in front of Max Verstappen to be allowed to unlap themselves, while Wolff made his feelings clear after the controversial move, having earlier asked that there be no safety car when Antonio Giovinazzi stopped on track.

After the race F1 managing director Ross Brawn suggested that team bosses should no longer be allowed to use the race control channel.

“I agree with Ross,” Wolff said when asked by Autosport if he shared the same views as Brawn’s. “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.

Michael Masi, Race Director, walks the track

Michael Masi, Race Director, walks the track

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

“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 kind 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.”

Wolff suggested that not only should team principals be banned from talking to the race director but there should also be limits on what the sporting directors can do.

“We need to come back,” he said. “I think team principals shouldn’t speak directly to the race director, it should be the sporting directors. I will go one step further and say I don’t think sporting directors should be lobbying race director or exercising pressure.

“They should be pointing to situations that the race director or his colleagues might not have spotted, but not lobby, not pressurise.”

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