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Watson: New FIA regime will find it easier to make changes

Former F1 racer John Watson is hopeful the FIA's new regime will spark tangible changes after the events of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

John Watson believes it will be much easier for the FIA to bring about changes to their own governance structure and race adjudication as a result of the election of new President, Mohammed Ben Sulayem. In the immediate aftermath of the contentious Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the FIA promised an in-depth investigation into the decision-making of officials, including Race Director Michael Masi, during the closing stages of the encounter. Masi's decisions regarding the control of the Safety Car impacted on the outcome of the World Championship, prompting the FIA's "detailed analysis". However, this coincided with then-FIA President Jean Todt's end of term, with Ben Sulayem elected to the office just days after the controversial race. While the timing may appear somewhat unfortunate, Watson believes the fresh administration should be able to make harder decisions than those who were part of Todt's office.

The wait goes on for the FIA's full report

At the time of writing, Masi remains in his position as Race Director, with the FIA's report into the Abu Dhabi finale due for release on 18 March, on the eve of the 2022 season opener in Bahrain. "I suppose that one of the things that has arisen is that the previous regime within the FIA - Todt and his acolytes - are effectively gone, and we've now got a new broom," Watson told RacingNews365.com in an exclusive interview. "I would like to hope that that new broom [is used] in the process of coming to terms with what occurred. "To me - the whole thing - I can't say it brought the sport into disrepute, but it didn't do it a great deal of good."

Watson confident new regime will be "more objective"

Watson feels it will be far easier for the new regime to be more objective in their findings, with the five-time Grand Prix winner hopeful steps are taken to ensure such events can't happen again. "If they want to instigate changes, and if that means personnel changes, then you've got a new view and a new look from the new management at the FIA to do so," he commented. "It might have been more difficult to do if the Todt regime had continued on for a further year or whatever, because that would then be tantamount to them admitting that they, their officers, got it wrong. "Because we've got a new team in the FIA, I think it's much more straightforward for them to take a more objective look at the events that occurred and go through them almost by the minute, or even by the second, to ensure that what occurred in Abu Dhabi shouldn't occur again."

RESULTS 2024 F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix - Qualifying