Three team bosses have defended Formula 1’s latest under-fire race director Niels Wittich following the chaotic and controversial Australian Grand Prix.
The media and many drivers were scathing of the handling of Sunday’s Melbourne race and repeated questionable red flags and re-starts.
“The drivers are revolting against this chaotic Formula 1,” observed Italy’s Corriere della Sera.
“Niels Wittich abused the red flags, beyond all doubt. The German caused the most dangerous of situations, some of which are incomprehensible to the drivers and the spectators.”
However, Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur declined to join the pile-on against Wittich.
“You cannot blame the system for this,” he insisted.
“Of course, we have to know that if the race is restarted for the last two laps, it will be tough. We already had that in Baku.
“But you can’t blame the race management,” the Frenchman insisted. “Those are the rules and the race management followed them.”
His Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff, so furious after the 2021 finale in Abu Dhabi when the axed Michael Masi appeared to freestyle the race’s dramatic conclusion, agrees that Wittich at least followed the rules on Sunday.
“We looked it up – it was the rule book,” said the Austrian.
“It was a bit confusing, but it was like it’s written down. Going forward, we just need to understand when it is a red flag and when it is a VSC or a safety car.
“I think for these incidents, it could have been any of them. So as long as it’s clear how this is being interpreted, I’m fine with it.”
Finally, Mike Krack – in charge at Aston Martin – also didn’t want to slam F1’s sole race director Wittich.
“It’s easy to criticise from the outside,” he told DAZN, “but they are the ones with all the information.
“Was it safe for the cars to go through the debris? It’s not easy to judge, but the race director has to make a decision and, as far as safety is concerned, the decision must be respected even if we don’t like it.”
And former F1 driver Timo Glock thinks that, no matter which way Wittich’s race management decided, there would have been criticism from some.
“As Ralf (Schumacher) said, the race should have ended behind the safety car. But then there would have been boos from the fans in the stand because they wanted to see an exciting ending,” he told Sky Deutschland.
“No matter how you do it, you do it wrong.”