The FIA has concluded that former race director Michael Masi “acted in good faith” during the controversial 2021 championship finale in Abu Dhabi.
The world motorsport body also determined that Masi had made a “human error” in not allowing all cars to split under the safety car regime.
If the conclusions do not plead in favor of the Australian, the FIA nevertheless specified that the classifications of the race and the championship are “valid, definitive and will not be modified”.
The conclusions of the investigation report were finally made public after more than 3 months of waiting. In Abu Dhabi, the controversial end of the race allowed Max Verstappen to become World Champion by overtaking Lewis Hamilton during the last lap of the race and the championship.
It’s the accident of the Williams from Nicholas Latifi five laps from the end which had led to the intervention of the decisive safety car. Michael Masi then made a series of questionable decisions before paying the price a few weeks ago when he was removed from his position as race director.
Two new race directors are officiating this season: Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, supported by Herbie Blash (permanent adviser) and the video assistance set up.
The conclusions in detail
This Saturday, following the meeting of the World Motor Sport Council, the conclusions of the investigation report following the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix were made public.
They mention the following points:
– The safety car procedure was at the center of the discussions during the detailed analysis and clarification exercise, resulting from the application of this procedure to the Abu Dhabi GP 2021, in accordance with articles 48.12 and 48.13 of the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations.
– The race director called the safety car back into the pit lane without having completed an extra lap as required by the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations (article 48.12).
– It emerged from the analysis that there could be different interpretations of article 48.12 and article 48.13 of the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations, and that this probably contributed to the procedure applied.
– It was also considered that decisions regarding the safety car at the end of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix were likely to take into account previous discussions which clearly indicated the preference of Formula 1 stakeholders (FIA, Formula 1 , teams and drivers) so that the races end under the green flag rather than behind a safety car, when safety conditions are met.
– In addition to this, the report finds that the race director acted in good faith and to the best of his knowledge given the difficult circumstances, acknowledging in particular the significant time constraints concerning the decisions to be taken and the immense pressure exerted by the teams on the race director.
– The results of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the FIA Formula 1 World Championship are valid, final and can no longer be modified. According to the regulations, Mercedes lodged a complaint with the stewards after the race. The stewards rejected the protest and Mercedes then had the opportunity to appeal that decision to the FIA’s International Court of Appeal, but failed to do so. There are no other mechanisms available in the rules to alter race standings.
– The process of identifying laggards has been manual until now and human error has led to not all cars being allowed to lap. Because manual interventions generally carry a higher risk of human error, software was developed. It will now automate the communication of the list of cars that need to split. Additionally, the 2022 Formula 1 Sporting Regulations have recently been updated to clarify that all cars must be allowed to split.
– The process for identifying late cars has been reviewed as part of the recommendations previously announced by the FIA President in his statement of 17 February 2022, which also includes the creation of the FIA Remote Operations Centre, the integration of a new expanded team for circuit operations as well as a review of the interactions between teams and race management during on-track activities.