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FIA admits Abu Dhabi shambles is "tarnishing the image" of F1

NEWS STORY
15/12/2021

Admitting that Sunday's race is "tarnishing the image" of F1, the FIA has proposed a detailed analysis and clarification of the events surrounding the final stages of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

As the World Motor Sport Council met in Paris, as part of the FIA Annual General Assembly Week, ahead of the sport's annual prizegiving gala, it was noticed that while the World Endurance Championship-winning Toyota hypercar was present for the official photoshoot, along with the World Rally Championship-winning Toyota Yaris, the World Rallycross Peugeot 208 and the even the highest class championship winning kart, there was no sign of the Mercedes W12 which won this year's constructors' title.

With Mercedes yet to make any public comment on last Sunday's events, the FIA released a brief statement as it proposed a detailed analysis and clarification of the events surrounding the final moments of the controversial Grand Prix.

"The world watched every race with great anticipation, knowing that in the end, there could only be one winner," it read. "In this respect, many praised Max Verstappen for his victory, and Lewis Hamilton for his remarkable performance and sportsmanship after the closing event of the season.

"The 2021 FIA Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, has prompted a large number of reactions from the F1 community and from motor sport in general, as well as in the public.

"The FIA's primary responsibility at any event is to ensure the safety of everyone involved and the integrity of the sport.

"The circumstances surrounding the use of the Safety Car following the incident of driver Nicholas Latifi, and the related communications between the FIA Race Direction team and the Formula 1 teams, have notably generated significant misunderstanding and reactions from Formula 1 teams, drivers and fans, an argument that is currently tarnishing the image of the Championship and the due celebration of the first Drivers' World Championship title won by Max Verstappen and the eighth consecutive Constructors' World Championship title won by Mercedes.

"Following the presentation of a report regarding the sequence of events that took place following the incident on Lap 53 of the Grand Prix and in a constant drive for improvement, the FIA President proposed to the World Motor Sport Council that a detailed analysis and clarification exercise for the future with all relevant parties will now take place.

"This matter will be discussed and addressed with all the teams and drivers to draw any lessons from this situation and clarity to be provided to the participants, media, and fans about the current regulations to preserve the competitive nature of our sport while ensuring the safety of the drivers and officials. It is not only Formula 1 that may benefit from this analysis, but also more generally all the other FIA circuit championships.

"Following that presentation and an extensive discussion, the World Council has decided to unanimously support the President's proposal.

"The FIA will therefore do its utmost to have this in motion within the Formula 1 governance and will propose to the Formula 1 Commission to give a clear mandate for study and proposal to the Sporting Advisory Committee, with the support of Formula 1 drivers, so that any identified meaningful feedback and conclusions be made before the beginning of the 2022 season."

Mercedes has until Thursday to decide whether it will formally appeal the Abu Dhabi stewards decision to dismiss its original protest.

Check out our Wednesday gallery from Yas Marina, here.

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1. Posted by kenji, 18/12/2021 1:13

"@ Clarkwasgod Your mention/query as to whether they, Mercedes, may proceed to the CAS prompted my response. A great number of those in the legal profession will always indicate that a win is on the cards..that's how they stay in business!."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by ClarkwasGod, 17/12/2021 21:01

"@ kenji
I was talking about the FIA "investigation" - nothing to do with Mercedes taking matters to court. However, another site has taken opinion from several lawyers and they are of the opinion that whilst their case would probably have succeeded, it would not have changed the results, and would almost certainly have garnered MB significant negative feelings with the public."

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3. Posted by NickK, 17/12/2021 15:51

"Classic political move to shift this urgent issue into the long grass to help it fade. The management of the safety car and final lap was a travesty and grossly unfair to Lewis Hamilton by any measure. "

Rating: Negative (-1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

4. Posted by kenji, 17/12/2021 1:19

"@ Clarkwasgod....I do have experience in Corporate Affairs and legal action relating back to my business career. The ultimate shareholders in my company were two major American film studios and they are amongst the most litigious corporate entities in the world when it comes down to it. In most 'cases' that couldn't be solved by diplomatic intervention and negotiation the main factor in progressing to full legal battle was equally divided between publicity/cost versus likelihood of success. The latter point was really the clincher. Once legal action was announced it was particularly rare to back out, as that triggered a 'publicity' backlash concerning the veracity of the claim in the first instance. It is my contention [ opinion ] that Mercedes realised that they were on thin ice and to proceed with their claim would just do them even more damage. Might I suggest here that it was down to 'crying Wolff' once too many times. I was dismayed to hear that this action was to be abandoned as it would've cleared the air. That hasn't happened unfortunately so until we see an FIA report we'll just have to hope that this unpleasant business loses it's allure amongst the 'we was robbed' milieu. Hoping for the resumption of heightened challenges in '22 from maybe more teams.

"

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5. Posted by ClarkwasGod, 16/12/2021 17:14

"They have already indicated what this "investigation" will report - that it was the inability of fans, drivers, media, and others to understand the happenings which was the root cause.

Nothing that any FIA officials did, or didn't do will be addressed.

Cynical, yes. Likely? Almost certainly.

Sporting regulatory bodies should be prohibited from self-regulating procedures.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport would be the proper body for a case such as this. Now that MB have withdrawn their appeal, I wonder whether they could still take this to the CAS should the FIA's report be as I suspect it will be. As no financial irregularity is involved, the various US bodies that seem to take unilateral worldwide action, as with FIFA, would not be interested. A lot, I suspect, rests with the outcome of the Presidential election."

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6. Posted by MossMan, 16/12/2021 15:44

"@Stitch431: "The fact that the team bosses are "working on Masi" during the race was started by Toto"

We really can't say that - all we know is that *since they started selectively broadcasting team-to-race-director communication* we have heard Toto whining more and more arrogantly than Horner.

I expect 1) there may be a lot more communication than we're hearing, 2) there may be a lot more people communicating than we know about and 3) this may have been going on for decades."

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7. Posted by kenji, 16/12/2021 12:15

"@ Stitch431...You should get an award for that...dedicated response. I Agree with most of your points and for a very long time I have argued against the influence wielded by massive manufacturers competing within F1. Hopefully we will see new participants in the future. Moving on, the high priced QC that accompanied Wolff to the race was not there for his 'good looks', Paul Harris would be a very expensive dude to have around. That very fact would presume that Mercedes were expecting some possible action to verify his presence. There is very little doubt in my mind that in the final analysis Red Bull got the 'rough end of the pineapple' in '21. I am not a team follower, never have been and, most likely, never will be although some teams project an image and support for their drivers that sits comfortably with me . My focus is fully driver centric, they make up the human element which fascinates me and holds my attention.

IMO Mercedes has, to a large extent, been largely responsible for any 'tarnishing' of the series. Red Bull are not far short either but that is rather expected, as we been told to believe, because they are just a 'drinks company' so they don't have the 'cachet' of a true German 'blaues blut'. What Mercedes have achieved with their engineering though is another thing altogether..irrespective of their adventurous interpretation of the codes that govern!

Hopefully the rules are treated to Ockams Razor treatment over the break and definitive interpretations are able to be implemented thus eliminating the 'Mikey Mikey' rubbish that Michael Masi has been inundated with. That and stewards who have no affiliations with either teams or personnel of teams. That at least would mollify some of the more strident accusations of conscious bias. Roll on '22."

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8. Posted by itc, 16/12/2021 11:35

"Who would have thought that "FIA" is actually an anagram of "Omnishambles"?"

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9. Posted by Stitch431, 16/12/2021 7:35

"The fact that the team bosses are "working on Masi" during the race was started by Toto, and during the season it has worked pretty well for them. Silverstone, Hungary, Monza (racing incident but onesided punishment of Max), Spa (Masi first discussed this with Toto and after that with Red Bull. Red Bull wanted to race and would have probably gotten a bigger lap after the race given the fact that Max had Pole there), Mercedes getting their way with an in-season rule change for the Red Bull wings as well as the pit stop rules (which are more dangerous now then they were before because by having to push a button extra the brain of the mechanics have to process an extra item instead of simplifying things). In contrast, their own front wing, which was clearly moving severely as well, was ignored. On top of that, when you can change the rules of the wings in the season because they go against the spirit of the rules, then the same thing should have happened with the number of engines one is allowed to take in season (rocket engine), because this was clearly going against the spirit of the rules too. This did not happen. The FIA has been influenced severely by Toto/Mercedes almost the entire season. Only the last couple of 4 to 5 races Red Bull has reacted and brought to the stewards some points that were so obvious they could not look away (DRS-saga for which Max was punished because he made this visible with his hands measurement (Vettel and others have done this many times before but were never punished). This was so outrageous that everyone forgot to ask, how long Mercedes was already during with this wing. Presumably as early as Hungary, but they again got away with it. Then to the inconsequence in punishment on track. It has been so obvious. Even if we only look at the last two races: in Jeddah, Max had to give back position after he went off the track and came back on it in front of Lewis. He even got a 5-second penalty for that. In Abu Dhabi, Lewis did not have to give back position for the same thing and was not punished either. In Jedda, Lewis has made three "punishable" mistakes before Max breaked because Lewis did not even want to pass him after slowing down several gears to give back his position Lewis did have a choice here. He had plenty of room to pass, as the aerial shots clearly show. He slowed down because he did not want to pass the DRS line first. They both did but in doing so as the last car in a row, Lewis posed a severe danger for the cars coming around the blind curves. A fact he has radioed about as unacceptable only a day before. Connely and co, however, chose to only punish Max, and Lewis was left off the hook again. Therefore, at least to me, it is obvious that Mercedes has had too much influence over Masi for whatever reason, and that Masi was feeling more and more uncomfortable about this towards the end of the season. In the last two races, Connely was called as a steward. This is the man that throughout the entire career of Max has ruled against him, and in favor of Lewis. Mercedes thought they had thought of everything, but it was obvious that they have just pushed their luck a bit too far. Michael Masi, with his last action (he really has the power to overrule the stewards according to the rule book), has probably decided there and then that he did not want to be part of this any longer. The reaction from Toto (Mikey no Miky ...) shows exactly the disrespect and/or the kind of relationship? Toto/Mercedes had with the FIA during this season. Toto must have sensed a week before that Masi was going to stop favoring Mercedes as they now chose to bring a lawyer to the race track. Guys give me a break, this has just been pushed too far. This is supposed to be car racing ... In my opinion, as of next year, there should be 4 big adaptations: 1. Only a one-way radio for the race director/stewards during the race. 2. no stewards of the same nationality as the main title contenders in the second half of the season. 3. consequent ruling: same punishment for all drivers regardless of status. 4.No in-season rule changes. I hope we will have a new FIA president that has no ties to one of the top teams, and as we speak about this, in my opinion, Jean Todt should not be allowed to have an advising role at Ferrari so shortly after his presidency a he has too much inside knowledge and too many connections. This could bring exactly the same kind of trouble we have seen this season. Of course, if you want to make a NetFlix clown show out of it (we're well on the way there), you can leave things as they are. If that will be the case, after following F1 since 1975, I for one will stop watching. As Kimi has put it, it is not the most important thing in life."

Rating: Negative (-4)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

10. Posted by TokyoAussie, 16/12/2021 3:15

"This is the very least the FIA can do, and probably the most that the FIA can do.

I hope this proposal to do a "detailed analysis and clarification exercise" is not just a smokescreen to hide behind. I am not overly confident, though, when the FIA declares that the events on lap 53 "generated significant misunderstanding". The rules and the precedents followed for years according to those rules were turfed aside for the sake of a TV spectacle, not safety. Of that there is no "significant misunderstanding"."

Rating: Positive (8)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

11. Posted by Great_white_shark, 16/12/2021 1:17

"@Roli exactly that. I am astonished to find hardcore orange stans still going on about Silverstone even after Max exacted his cold revenge in Monza. They act like they were worried sick about Max's wellbeing but when he parked his car on top of Lewis and walked off without looking back it was no big deal. Doesn't get more biased than that

They say the time penalty was a joke but they sure aren't complaining about the time penalty Max got in Jeddah which didn't affect his race either.

Also according to them, Lewis had no right to dive on the inside at Silverstone and it was Max's corner but in Abu Dhabi when Max dived on the inside he left him no space on the track, Lewis should have also backed off... You just can't win "

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12. Posted by Roli, 15/12/2021 23:02

"@NEEDFORSPEED ...yo forget to mention Monza....that was a farce as well"

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13. Posted by Roli, 15/12/2021 23:01

"what utter tosh ! It was fixed, Masi had no idea what to do when all he had to do is read the rule book. Only one way to fix it : get rid of absolute idiotic rules and regulations and get rid of Masi"

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14. Posted by NEEDFORSPEED, 15/12/2021 21:36

"What should tarnish the image is the Farce that was the British GP. 10 second time penalty for a professional foul that put you competition in Hospital"

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15. Posted by Burton, 15/12/2021 21:22

"So the teams and fans misunderstood...we're so sorry Jean, it's indeed our fault after all."

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