The FIA statement suggesting the blame for the tarnishing of the reputation lies with teams, drivers and fans for arguing gives the sense that it wishes to control the narrative rather than tackle the incorrect application of the regulations by the FIA race director. Rather than saying, ‘yes we got it wrong’ it appears to be saying, ‘maybe we did, maybe we didn’t, but it’s not up to you pesky teams, drivers and fans to be questioning us.’ Which is not a good look.
Similarly, that attitude seems inherent in the protest and appeal procedures. The protest was thrown out on the grounds that another regulation took precedence over the relevant one, which was just a convenient post-hoc way of not changing the result. The regulation saying that the race director can direct the use of the safety car comes immediately after the regulation stating the procedure of the restarting of the race behind the safety car, clearly with the implicit assumption that the first regulation had been met – i.e. it was a ‘what happens next’ regulation with nothing to indicate this ‘this regulation takes precedence over the preceding one’. That was just used as a convenience after the fact.
“There definitely seems to be a sense of ‘we are right because we are the authority’ creeping in”
Mercedes dropped its appeal because it judged that the FIA would not rule against itself and that it did not have the statutory power to change the outcome anyway. Not that changing the outcome would have a good thing; it would have been disastrous. Once Masi made the choice he did, it was done and to go back and change it would be even worse. The problem was the call itself.
In this ‘detailed analysis and clarification exercise’ the FIA needs to look not just at procedures and communications, but at itself. It’s a sporting authority and generally a good one but there definitely seems to be a sense of ‘we are right because we are the authority’ creeping in. That was there in the race director’s decision and seems to be there in the wording of the FIA’s response to the outrage and disappointment that decision triggered.