Jonathan Wheatley, Sporting Director at Red Bull, has given his take on the analysis being conducted by the FIA into the 2021 title decider in Abu Dhabi, and what might come of it.
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen emerged victorious in the dramatic season finale after a contentious late Safety Car period opened the door for him to overhaul Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton, who had led the race up to that point.
Race Director Michael Masi came under fire for his handling of the race restart and F1's governing body are currently working through a "detailed" investigation – with the report set to be revealed on 18 March.
Red Bull's take on the FIA investigation
Despite Verstappen's success in the Drivers' Championship, Wheatley underlined the importance of the sport working as a collective and learning any lessons it can.
"It's really important that the FIA do their investigation, and they work with the teams on the investigation, and that we should all follow whatever the outcome of their investigation is," said Wheatley during an appearance on The Jack Threlfall Show.
He continued: "If we look broad brush at race direction, it's a very, very difficult role that the Race Director and the stewards have.
"We look at that, and we talk about the consistency of the stewards' decisions, consistency across the board, like people who watch football would like to see from referees, and it's not always the case."
Red Bull want clear rules and consistency
Addressing the bigger picture, Wheatley believes that clear rules - and consistent application - are badly needed moving forward, after an array of incidents caused confusion during the 2021 season, particularly regarding overtaking.
"Of course, we'd all love it to be very, very clear," said Wheatley.
"We've had this great, overarching philosophy of 'let them race', but let them race is a philosophy. You've then got the black and white of the regulations, which is often very prescribed in terms of what penalty... there's no wriggle room in it at all.
"I think these are the areas of the sport that need to come from the very top; it needs to come from the World Motor Sport Council, who need to say, 'Here are the principles by which we're going racing'.
"Then it's up to the FIA and the teams to work together to ensure a consistent set of sporting regulations."
Verstappen vs Hamilton for title glory
Continuing on the subject of regulations, and pushing them to the limit, Wheatley admitted that Verstappen can be "difficult to police" as a driver at times.
However, he heaped praise on the Dutchman and 2021 title rival Hamilton for being "pure racing drivers", and is eager to see the pair battle it out for more world titles in the future.
"I think if you look at any elite sportsman, in any sport, they raise the bar, they challenge everyone around them and they make it a very difficult job to try to police them from time to time," Wheatley commented.
"Max is a pure, 100 per cent racing driver – as is Lewis. What we saw last year was a titanic battle and I hope that there's many more of those to come."
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