GT

FIA set to revise sportscar driver classification criteria for 2022

The sport’s governing body has stated that it will be reviewing how it classifies drivers into the four gradings — platinum, gold, silver and bronzes — for international sportscar racing before the publication of next year’s list of categorisations on 15 November.

Confirmation that the system is under review follows GT promoter Stephane Ratel’s announcement last weekend that he has proposed a raft of changes to the FIA.

The FIA’s Frederic Bertrand, under whose remit driver categorisation falls, told Autosport: “For sure we need to address the full hierarchy to make sure everyone finds their right place.

“Should we add a level? I don’t know. Should we redistribute the current levels we have? Probably.”

Bertrand, who is director of the Formula E and innovative sport activities department at the FIA, explained that he agreed with the twin concerns outlined by Ratel during a press conference at the Barcelona finale of his GT World Challenge Europe series last weekend.

Ratel suggested that the current distinction between platinum and gold drivers is not required.

He pointed out that there are factory drivers with both gradings, so it would be make more sense to have only one ranking for fully-professional drivers.

His Stephane Ratel Organisation wants all young silver drivers with a background in single-seater racing to be reclassified as gold to leave the silver category to top-level amateurs and drivers under 30 just starting out in their racing careers.

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez lead at the start

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 – Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez lead at the start

Photo by: Alessio Morgese

This, he argues, will leave the bronze category to the true amateur or gentleman racers.

“The points Stephane mentions are all true,” said Bertrand.

“One point that is very difficult is the silver driver who has come up the single-seater ladder but doesn’t have the results to be classified as gold, but he or she is racing against drivers who are silver because they are under 30 but don’t have the same level of experience.

“This is linked to the pure amateur system: we have bronze drivers, who are very important to the promoters because they are financing the cars.

“Those drivers are slowly disappearing because they are potentially competing with fast young drivers: it is difficult for them if the younger drivers get into the bronze category.

Bertrand explained that the concerns of Ratel and other series promoters will be addressed when the driver categorisation committee meets this week.

“It is a global group: we have people from SRO, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest [promoter of the WEC], IMSA and people, more or less, from all the major series,” he said.

“I feel comfortable and confident that we will find a good option with the contribution of each promoter to identify the right solutions for 2022.”

Ratel explained last weekend that he wants changes implemented for 2023, but that he will take what he described as an “intermediate step” for next season by unilaterally upgrading some drivers from their FIA categorisation.

Bertrand insisted that Ratel remained committed to the FIA system.

“I have had a talk with Stephane and he clearly wants to stay in the FIA global system,” he said.

“He just wants to improve it; we will work together to do that.”

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