Did F1 race control make correct decision over last-lap restart?

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The final lap of yesterday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix offered drama to rival many of Formula 1’s most dramatic championship conclusions.

It called to mind the final seconds of the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, Nigel Mansell’s tyre explosion at Adelaide in 1986, or the contentious championship-deciding collisions of the nineties.

But was the drama contrived by an incorrect decision from race control?

The race was neutralised after Nicholas Latifi crashed on the 53rd lap of 58. Several drivers took the opportunity to pit.

Behind the Safety Car were six drivers on the lead lap and eight a lap down. Race leader Lewis Hamilton had five backmarkers between himself and second-placed Max Verstappen. Two other stragglers followed, separating Verstappen from the third and fourth-placed drivers, Carlos Sainz Jnr and Valtteri Bottas. Another backmarker came next, and then the AlphaTauri pair in fifth and sixth.

Report: F1’s midfield runners left “speechless” and confused by controversial late restart
The time it took to clear Latifi’s crash scene originally led to race control advising teams lapped cars would not be allowed to overtake. Four minutes later, after the penultimate lap had begun, this decision was changed, and the first five of the eight lapped drivers were waved by. This left Hamilton and Verstappen running together, followed by two lapped drivers, then third-placed Sainz and the rest.

The legality of the decision was disputed after the race by Mercedes in a protest. It was rejected, but they are considering an appeal.

With the outcome of the championship riding on the race, did race control make the best decision in the interest of the series?


Race control were determined to allow the championship-deciding race to finish under green flag conditions, ensuring the title would be decided with wheel-to-wheel action between Hamilton and Verstappen. It would have been an enormous disappointment for a large audience to have sat through what was a largely processional event, only to have the race end under a Safety Car.

Releasing five lapped cars and allowing them to overtake the Safety Car also ensured an ideal finish to the championship. Without that, Verstappen would have had to get past all five of those cars in order to have any chance at sizing up a move on Hamilton, and while they would have been duty bound to observe the blue flags, the odds would have been stacked against Verstappen clearing them in time to attack his rival.


Allowing some drivers to un-lap themselves but not others is deeply unfair and caused confusion and dissatisfaction which wasn’t limited to Mercedes. If the race director wanted to ensure a green flag finish to the race, the option existed to red flag the race and perform a standing restart. This was done in Baku with just two laps remaining and would have been a fairer arrangement.

There are also doubts over whether the signal to restart the race was given correctly, as highlighted in Mercedes’ protest. The regulation which states “once the last lapped car has passed the leader the Safety Car will return to the pits at the end of the following lap” was not followed, as the Safety Car pitted immediately.

I say

As the television broadcast showed, FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi was under pressure throughout the event from the Mercedes and Red Bull camps on which calls to make. While this may have been defensible as far as incidents involving their drivers go, it was completely inappropriate for them to be telling him how to handle the aftermath of a crash and resumption of the race. It’s time to put a stop to this kind of mid-race lobbying.

Rightly or wrongly, it gave an impression Masi had been pressured into changing his original decision not to allow cars to un-lap themselves. The eventual arrangement was demonstrably unfair and appears to have violated the FIA’s own rules, irrespective of its consequences on the championship.

I didn’t agree with the decision to reintroduce the ‘lapped cars may un-lap themselves’ rule a few years ago because of the delays and inconsistency it can provoke. If F1 is going to have it, it should not be enforced selectively. Race control shouldn’t have arranged the restart as it did when there were fairer options available within the rules. On this occasion ‘the show’ took clear priority over the sport.

You say

Are you happy with the way Formula 1 handled the restart at the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix? Cast your vote here and have your say below.

Do you agree race control handled the last-lap restart correctly?

  • No opinion (0%)
  • Strongly disagree (70%)
  • Slightly disagree (8%)
  • Neither agree nor disagree (3%)
  • Slightly agree (8%)
  • Strongly agree (10%)

Total Voters: 637

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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409 comments on “Did F1 race control make correct decision over last-lap restart?”

  1. Can’t really disagree at all with the “I Say” section, so just read that again for my comment on it.

    1. Almost the definition of sport is a contest based on an agreed set of rules. There can be grey areas, there can be differences in interpretation, but that was not the case here, just a simple procedure that the race director decided to change for no reason.

      1. Former footballer and current TV pundit, Gary Lineker, summed it up for me:

        “Imagine Man City and Liverpool going toe to toe for the title.

        On the last day of the season they meet & City are 3 up with just minutes to go.

        The referee decides it would be more exciting to have a penalty shootout. What’s more the City players have to be barefooted. That’s F1.”

        1. I think this is more like all the City defenders are injured in an unlucky, but legal, way and must leave the field. City have no subs left, so are down on men, but it’s the final minutes. Then the ref announces 15mins of stoppage time, because that gives Liverpool time to catch up and it will make a better show…

    2. Yes, except the original decision was likely made as a result of pressure as judging by the team radio everyone assumed that in case of restart, cars would be allowed to unlap.
      the clean up was tardy. I think their main priority was to avoid having Aston Martin win the title.
      Besides not having a proper restart would have sparked more controversy since that call is not the norm these days.
      Anyway even though I believe race direction corrected a call that they should not have made, it does not mean that this decision was not a bodge.
      Partial unlapping, leaves 18 drivers out of the race, frankly they have been out of f1 for the whole season.
      I disagree that having both teams bickering over their clashes is any more defensible than arguing over the restart, in the end “we race as one”….

      1. If they wanted a lap of racing then they should have left the backmarkers in place. That would have allowed them to start correctly under the rules and would also have given Lewis a fair chance of defending his lead. No one could have argued that it had been manipulated and no serious protests could be lodged as the rules would have been followed.

        What they actually did was not sport. Merc would have taken the rules into account when deciding to bring Lewis in for new tyres or not. To then have those rules changed at a point that gives you no time to adjust is wrong and should never happen in any sport.

        If they want to have the “Let them race” attitude then change the rules to allow that to happen in a consistent way.

        I am not sure I am going to be watching F1 after this. I am a sports fan and this is no longer a sport.

        1. The only bit I partially disagree with here is that Mercedes took these rules into consideration when deciding to pit Lewis or not – at the time the SC was deployed we didn’t know how long it would be out for, so all 3 ‘normal’ eventualities (SC to the end, let all lapped runners through, just restart) were possible.

          I think they expected that if they pitted then Red Bull would keep Max out and gain track position. I haven’t seen any details on how many lapped cars would end up between them in that scenario, but I’d assume one or two (if anyone has anything definitive on this I’d love to see it).

          You’d then have Max leading on 20-lap old hards vs Lewis on new(ish) softs. From there, if the race finishes behind the SC then Max wins, and if the race does have a last-lap restart – lapped cars or not – there’s no gaurantee Lewis will get back in front, especially given how agressively Max has defended recently.

          To be clear, I don’t think what actually happened was right, but I don’t think you can say Merc would have behaved differently if they’d known a “some lapped runners” scenario was possible. For me, they were quite likely screwed either way once the SC was deployed.

          1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
            14th December 2021, 10:43

            Had Lewis pitted and Max not of course RBR would be screaming to just restart the race as per the regulations and not allow any lapped cars to get back on the lead lap.

          2. @andyfromsandy correct, and RBR would be kicking up just as much of a fuss, if not more, if the race director didn’t follow the rule and procedures as happened here.

            I think, deep down, everybody knows that what happened was wrong.

    3. So you say “I didn’t agree with the decision to reintroduce the ‘lapped cars may un-lap themselves’ rule a few years ago because of the delays and inconsistency it can provoke.”
      But Hamilton used this rule in Imola to get 18 points. If not that, he wouldn’t be a champion even if they finish 1-2 in Abu Dhabi. If not that Verstappen would be enough to score 6th place for championship.

      1. +1 Can’t eat the cake and have it.

      2. Just because you disagree with the rules, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I disagree with DRS, the 2-tyre-compound rule, and a whole list of others in the sport, but that doesn’t take them out of the rulebook, nor does it mean I can’t celebrate when a driver I like wins using a DRS-assisted pass.

      3. Sounds like your making this comment out to be about Hamilton or Verstappen, but there are 18 more drivers out there. It’s about fairness for all the drivers and safety on track. Letting lapped cars unlap themselves partway through a race give them a “free pass” to catch up to the field and cheapens their position, but it’s done for safety reasons so they don’t trip over other cars while trying to get out of the way after the restart. I think the better option is to move the lapped cars to the back of the field by letting the cars on the lead lap move to the front of the line in their respective orders. But that’s not the rule on the books at the moment.

  2. Absolutely not. Much like many decisions made by Masi and his cronies this year (which have affected both drivers I will add.) It doesn’t take a genius to realise yesterdays decision was all about ‘The show’ rather than the sport.

    This will be talked about for years as the deciding moment for the championship, but there has been many other decisions this year that have also influenced it.

    1. I am sadly left feeling disgusted by F1.

      I would go as far to say that I am ashamed by the sport. Let down by it. It vindicates those who say it is not really a sport and just entertainment.

      I am often intrigued by those that watch WWE with it being more like a rehearsed play with sporting elements (I don’t doubt the performers athleticism). An entertainment package. Then I start to wonder, am I not seeing F1 for being the same thing.

      It really has a left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I replay what happened and I still can’t process the decision making and/or logic.

      Trying to make sense of it just leads me to some very sad conclusions as to the direction F1 is taking itself.

      1. Exactly my thoughts. Was also comparing it to WWE.
        For the season 2021, as far as Im concerned, F1 was not a sport, it was a pinnacle of Motorshows.
        The two drivers/teams were not given an opportunity to win or lose in a fair fight.

      2. +1.

        The way Masi farbricated “grand finale” was not good to the sport but I’ll be here next year, I love F1 too much to let it go because someone made a awful decision, Masi will be out soon, F1 will survive this.

        1. Again. If not illegal decision in favor of Mercedes to disallow lapped cars to overtake, there would be enough time for a full clear lap. The track was clear on lap 55/58. Decision to disallow overtaking came on lap 56 and was partially fixed on lap 57. It was all fair to fix cheating that way. If not attempt to cheat there would be full lap anyway.

          1. And it is probable that the decision to disallow overtaking did not come from Masi. Could be some of lower tier official sneaking into a system. This should be investigated – who tried to delay restart.

          2. It is not illegal for the race director not to allow lapped cars to overtake. It is up to the race director to say whether it is safe to do so, and to send out a communication informing the competitors of that decision. Masi would have to justify his decision on whether it was safe, but it would be perfectly within the rules.

            Likewise, letting all cars past was possible. If done earlier, there would be no argument. Done when he did, following the procedures, letting all cars past and then bringing the SC in at the end of the following lap (i.e. finishing under SC conditions) would have upset RBR, but Masi could just point to the procedure he followed to the letter.

            What he did specifically contravenes the rules. Whether he did it to make up for being too slow earlier, or to give a more exciting end, it is right that he is under massive scrutiny over it. Whatever the reason, he failed to follow the rules and made up his own which decided the result.

        2. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
          14th December 2021, 10:46

          It will be the insufferable commentators on TV that will keep raking over the ashes at every opportunity.

          1. We need to keep “raking over the ashes” until or unless we find a way to stop this from ever happening again.

      3. +1 I’ve been watching F1 since the early ’80’s. I’ve always been primarily a fan of the motorsport itself, with no allegiance to a specific team or driver. I’m not disappointed with what i saw on Sunday – i’m outraged. It’s inconceivable to me that one man, Masi, can on a whim and with no precedent, bring a multi-billion sport into such disrepute. Of course, i’m making the assumption that it was solely Masi’s call.

          14th December 2021, 21:27

          Massi, if you can’t stand the heat………………………..

      4. One question no one seems to be asking anywhere is whether this actions could constitute fraud and be subject to US or other prosecution. The main elements of fraud involve dishonesty and under normal circumstances this is difficult to prove BUT..here is the issue: If you fail to implement your own rules, you’ve either made an honest mistake OR deliberately ignored the rules. This is fine during the race because it all happens quickly and mistakes can and do happen. The trouble at the FIA is that on appeal they had time to read the rule book and reflect on all facts available. They could have admitted an error occurred and apologized but claimed it cant be undone and this would be painful but true.

        Their attempts at reinterpretation of the rules appears dishonest and absurd. “Any cars doesnt mean all cars”. Race director has the authority to override Sporting Code or one set of articles “overriding” others. All that is made up dishonestly to maintain the classification. This could be conspiracy to commit fraud if any emails or other communications could be found indicating and attempt to cover up an honest mistake. This is serious.

        FIA needs to hire a good lawyer immediately and start an investigation before this spirals out of their control. Fundamentally a mistake was made and you either admit it or cover up and end up in a worse position. Weve seen these things happen before.

  3. All or nothing.

    Let all the lapped cars all go by and have the final few corners of lap 58 as a race (white line before finish line)

    Or don’t let any of them go at all and restart the race.

    It was an absolute shambles and made a mockery of the other competitors in the field. Is Sainz not relevant to the race as he’s in P3 and not a championship contender?

    Masi ballsed up big time under the pressure. He should not be in his position come the start of the season.

    Feel for Lewis, he did all he could to win it. Well done to Max, but I’d feel a bit cheap winning it like that.

    1. I wouldn’t. Hamilton ´s first lap move was cheap and opportunistic. Yes, last lap was a mess but ultimately the championship went to the most outstanding driver.

      1. The driver who has the most points at the end wins it and that is how the best is defined over the duration of a compition… During that race, the final decider, LH would have won fair and square under the FIA sporting regulations, the rules agreed by all teams before the season starts and like most sports cant be changed during the course of a match / compitition, they certainly cant be changed and disregard 90 % of the participants for the sake of a final lap sprint between LH and MV to disregard the entire grid is wrong, unsportmen like and against the basic principle of the meaning of fairplay or fair compitition. and if one man can make change or influence a sporting contest to benifit just one participant then it isnt a fair compitition either. that means the rules for all those who fall under FIA sporting regulations will not in my opinion be a SPORT, so that includes F1, f2, f3 European and world championship, F4 championship, World endurance, world touring car cup+ Championship, its a long list honestly, but ill proceed, Karting, FE, European drug + Truck racing championships, Alternative Engines, FIA Nations Cup, GT Nations cup.

        Quite a list right? Alot of sponsorships wont be happy to know all those SPORTING CHAMPIONSHIP are no longer regarded as Sport but Racing directors play thing.

        1. Absolutely spot on. Lewis would have won the race if the rules were followed so he would’ve been champion – anything else is irrelevant.

      2. How can it have been opportunistic? Hamilton was the defending driver. If anyone was opportunistic it was Max lunging from deep.

        Most outstanding driver? They both dominated their fair share of races. There is a reason they started the final race on equal points.

        1. That reason is silverstone, don’t like it? Then baku, hungary, you get the drill.

          1. Baku was not max error but still red bulls error and they are a team together.

            Just like how errors from mercedes cost Lewis eg Hungary and so on.

            And to be very fair, max wasn’t entirely free of blame in Silverstone, as the stewards also noted

          2. @esploratore1 For some inexplicable reason, you appear to have forgotten Monza and Spa. How curious.

            It’s a shame people can’t win with the grace Hamilton showed in defeat.

          3. Baku was a tyre failure that the team might or might not have had the opportunity to predict to a degree. However also at Baku Hamilton had an issue due to a poorly designed steering wheel system and so did not capitalise on the situation. If Hamilton had not had that issue he would have won the championship even with the farce at the final race.

            Max fans seem to think he was hard done by this year. He wasn’t. He made plenty of mistakes and got away with plenty of things. On the flip side Lewis also made mistakes and also got away with things. However the final race was not anything like the rest of the season it was despicable.

          4. @Lee1

            Interesting that Lewis’ mistake in Baku is suddenly entirely due to a poorly designed steering wheel, when they’ve been using that setup for a long time without issue.

            Max’s mistakes were much smaller than Lewis’, overall, but Lewis got massively lucky.

      3. Max lunged and as most of his drives this season, that was an attempt to cause accident. Cheap win. Imagine his cockiness next year with no. 1 car. Imagine Homer’s cockiness. The remedy can be Lewis changes his driving style and drive Max out all the time. But who would beat the cheating qualities of Max, Horner and Marko? Max – Masi assisted world champion.

        1. There’s another take, Max gives up the pole position knowing he wouldn’t have held it for long, to have that lunge at Lewis as they only thing he could do with the soft tire’s advantage.

          The strange thing is that Lewis shadows max into the garage when his medium should have lasted longer. he was driving purples so his tires, were very fresh. He comes back to duke it out with perez who must have been driving with a lighter fuel load so something, and ends up costing lewis his 10 second advantage over Max.

          Also Lewis when turning, consistently runs wide, giving Max that chance to lunge on the inside. He did it at the start and again at the end. Max ‘send it’ Verstappen is alway going to make that move look legitimate, and not be penalised for it.

          And finally we have Horner’s appeal to the “racing gods” a very curious statement, as if this were code to say ‘right we’ve run out of ideas, we dont have a chance of doing this legitimately, time for plan B’.

        2. [corrections]

          There’s another take, Max gives up the pole position, knowing he wouldn’t have held it for long, to have that lunge at Lewis as the only thing he could do with the soft tire’s advantage.

          The strange thing is that Lewis shadows max into the garage when his medium should have lasted longer. He was driving purples, so his tires were very fresh. He comes back to duke it out with perez who must have been driving with a lighter fuel load or something, and ends up costing lewis his 10 second advantage over Max.
          Perez doesn’t finish the race.

          Also Lewis when turning, consistently runs wide, giving Max that chance to lunge on the inside. He did it at the start and again at the end. Max ‘send it’ Verstappen is alway going to make that move look legitimate, and not be penalised for it.

          And finally we have Horner’s appeal to the “racing gods”, a very curious statement. Its as if this were ‘code’ to say ‘right we’ve run out of ideas, we dont have a chance of doing this legitimately, time for plan B’.

          I wont mention Horner’s Jedi mind tricks on Masi. Using ‘the force’ on the weaker willed, to get his way.

    2. That’s one of the parts that angers me most, it’s not only the leaders who are racing, the guys that are sandwiched between are racing, too, and their efforts deserve every respect, it frankly felt that they were in the way of the show and needed to be moved aside, regulations be damned.

      1. excatly, its not a sport if the grid is not all treated equally, and the race is fixed if one person ( Masi, the race director ) Can freely rewrite the rules for the entire grid for just 2 laps of a race s those rules do not just regulate F1 but all its other series too. that is an aweful lot of sports sponsorship deals to potential lose just to fix one race for MV and potentially destroy the view of the FIA and the compititions is governs.. this has huge implications for the FIA.

        I for one feel i was miss sold my f1 tv subscription, as i was under the impression it was a sport, not a show.

        1. Maybe this is where a fans opinion will count with Liberty. Complaints, demanding of refunds and no subscription renewals. Money will be what talks loudest to them.

        2. I hope many sponsorship drop from F1 until they right the wrong. They didnt make a show, they annihilated the sport all together! They just showed how to cheat and rob people and call it entertainment in front of millions…

        3. That’s quite an interesting point, but unfortunately I’m not sure many sponsors would choose integrity over bigger viewing figures from scripted action.

          1. This was for @mysticus

    3. If there was no decision not to allow lapped cars to overtake. there would be enough time for one or two laps. So you just trying to play it out as a victim. But no, rule violations in favor of Mercedes led to this.

      So one again – britain is heavily prejudiced on this. There are no same feelings about restart all around the world.

      1. “…There are no same feelings about restart all around the world.”

        What a complete load of tosh, you literally have no way of knowing having that information. It’s completely fabricated in your head to backup your opinion on the matter.

  4. Regardless of the winner, my issue is with the race director not following the safety car procedure correctly. That was absolutely crazy, considering the procedure is written clearly.

    1. I selected slightly agree, Not because of the safety that went as it should what after the cleanup happened it was clear they didn’t want a safecar finish and Massi already said no red flag if he could prevent it.
      So he uses his RC powers (which he is allowed) to remove the cars between and gave us 1 lap race. Is this feeling right there were always two parties and what he did was wrong.

      Maybe a simple solution the race can’t finish under safetycar so when that happens the race is extended by 1 lap (cars are behind safety car so fuel enough) So there is always a finish under race conditions and is clear for everyone so plan according.

  5. I read Carlos Sainz was under pressure and could have lost a podium result… but I have not read about him losing the chance of getting 2nd or maybe 1st if Verstappen and Hamilton went once again outside a corner ! He was not gifted cars unlapping themselves, which would have made him closer and menacing to Verstappen. I can’t remember which state his car and tires were, but in case of a light VER/HAM incident he could have had a shot at 1st ?

    1. Exactly. Masi’s decision didn’t only affect Lewis. And due to the same reason, Verstappen didn’t even have to look into his mirrors when attacking Lewis.

      1. Absolutely, the phrase “it’s motor racing” seems not to apply if you’re not racing for the championship.
        Completely disrespectful.

        1. Because it is more than motor racing, it is motor show.

          1. I would call that less than motor racing, or at least less than motorsport, but maybe that’s just me.

        2. To be fair he was greatly pressured and that shouldn’t be happening during a race. So i understood his comment a bit rude no disrespectful.

      2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        13th December 2021, 20:40

        @nordmann excellent point – he could have come under attack… That makes it a 1-way race.

    2. I’m sure it is of less concern to most, but I can see why Stroll was so angry too, Sainz was the only car in front of his chance of a dice for the top 10, if they’d let all cars through, then there was every chance for a last minute dice for the final top 10 positions, and an opportunistic move by any of the midfield drivers in that group could easily have changed their positions. Poor Stroll and Ricciardo see their final chance of a late race dice evaporate as their fellow competitors get let through and disappear into the distance!
      Very poor, the back-markers couldn’t have been let through any earlier as the track was not safe, I was hoping for a Max win, but I believe the safety car rules should have been followed, which would have resulted in the race finishing under yellow. Spoiled a great year of F1 for me. I feel numb.

      1. I hope all they have been wrong should join court case, and explain how they were not allowed to race like max was allowed!

        A refree cant call for a free kick and move everyone aside between the striker and goal keeper… that is called penalty! i would like to understand why penalize one and reward one…

    3. Returned lapped cars do not start racing the same moment as leaders crossing the line. They still have to reach that line to start racing. And until they reach it they can’t overtake. Nothing changes for them.

  6. No they didn’t, because they didn’t follow the rules. Even if we assume that Masi has the authority to overrule sporting regulations (which I don’t think is the case), he’d have to explain why he handled this SC situation completely differently than he has handled it before. It wasn’t because of safety or fairness. He did it in order to manipulate the race – probably not to favor Verstappen per se, but to make the race “more interesting”. What we saw wasn’t an exciting end to the championship, but an artificial and scripted show.

    1. Precisely.

      There is a quote floating around from Masi at an earlier race explaining to one of the teams that the safety car can’t go in until the cars have unlapped themselves! I wonder if it can be used as evidence in court.

  7. BLS (@brightlampshade)
    13th December 2021, 16:49

    I’m going to be very surprised if F1 as a whole will survive this whole ordeal unscathed.

    I assume they’re trying to offer some sort of bargain to Mercedes behind the scenes currently, but how are they going to buy the fans back? Wouldn’t be surprised if Liberty pay for F1 to be free to view for a race or two early next season.

    1. @brightlampshade

      I’m going to be very surprised if F1 as a whole will survive this whole ordeal unscathed.

      Well.. Given the drama of this season, which will be further dramatized in drive to survive, I’m pretty sure F1 is going to double it’s user base. A small portion of the he purist and loyal f1 fans might tune out.. But it’s not like the FIA was really interested in that niche user base to begin with. They want every Netflix subscriber in the world to tune in to the greatest sports show. Mission accomplished! Masi will probably get a promotion.

      1. @todfod

        I am not sure I concur with this. F1 is such a complicated, technical sport and not many people have the patience to follow an entire season. Under Bernie the viewing numbers had been plummeting for years. Liberty may have milked this season for what it’s worth and atleast for now, the publicity (however good or bad) may momentarily draw in new fans. But you’ve been watching F1 long enough to know that intra team wars like this are a rarerity in F1- many a time a team finds loopholes in the regulations and dominates. So next season, when the new regs come in- normal service may be resumed in terms of lack of competition, and all these casuals will leave when the processions return. But by then hardcore fans will have left as well because they don’t want WWE type racing.

        1. Fergus sings the blues
          13th December 2021, 23:41

          @blazzz – completely agree. Attracting casual fans is great but what are the chances of them staying as fans? I schedule my weekend around F1 and have been a fan since 1985. If this result is allowed to stand, if the results are allowed to be skewed by the whim of a weak racing director then what is the point of watching anymore? I don’t follow scripted entertainment masquerading as sport. I will no longer follow F1. How many true fans is the FIA willing to lose over this contrived and farcical conclusion to what was an amazing season?

          How many of the new casuals will tune in to preseason testing etc. Be careful, do not treat your fanbase like idiots.

        2. I think the real risk is some of the teams packing it in.

          Additionally, getting any manufacturers to develop new engines is already a challenge and if the sporting integrity is so deeply undermined, few will want to play.

        3. This makes me wonder where does Liberty take it from here? They’ve milked this as far as it can go and un/intentionally manipulated the result to avoid the same champion in the most shocking way. Will they feel the need to keep topping this to maintain the interest of the ‘new fans’?

        4. Did the hard core fans leave when Senna/Prost incidents were not dealt with correctly or Schumacher/Hill etc…

          This type if thing is nothing new to F1…

          1. Actually they did- which is why, if you actually read my comment you would have picked up on the plummeting numbers under Ecclestone.

      2. @todfod

        Definitely agree with this. Many of my friends who just follow F1 every once in a while were very excited about the race and when we were talking about it today not a single one of them mentioned anything about lapped cars behind safety-car or stuff like that. It’s easy to forget that those of us who take the time to visit a site like this are a small minority of the viewer base, and the rest got just what they wanted.

        1. I strongly agree with your opinion. Perhaps these kind of decisions will turn away the kind of fans that are passionate enough comment under articles on RaceFans but they will gain 1000 more who get their F1 news from instagram clips. The diversity of people who were delighted to watch the result yesterday was far more than one dimensional hardcore F1 fans.

          Liberty media needs to reach beyond a small amount of people who obsess over F1 to increase their revenue. F1 is slowly becoming the pinnacle of entertainment rather than motorsport. Maybe that is the logical step to increase/maintain its popularity. In the meantime I will nerd out on motor racing elsewhere.

          1. True, IMO it has become more and more just a show at least since the introduction of DRS, and the events of this season are just the pinnacle of the evolution so far. Kind of shame that I seem to be too emotionally connected to the sport to just leave it behind completely.

          2. To Alberto:
            On Monday evening, Australian time, I took a look at the Daily Mail Website and on this topic there were 10,700 who had taken the trouble to write comments about what eventuated in the Formula One drivers championship. To me, that was startling.
            Also, as Diceman mentions above, Formula One has become just a show and, for me, I did not even bother to watch the super-late twenty minutes of ‘highlights’ on Melbourne TV, which usually runs late anyway.
            Currently I have many gripes about Formula One and the way it currently is, however, I will not air them here. It is extremely sad that, after many years of enthusiasm, the interest is waning.
            Compliments to Max, commiserations to Lewis – but let’s put this season behind us.
            An end of year thank you to Dieter, Keith, Hazel and the rest who keep us enthusiasts informed.
            Season’s greetings,
            Michael A.

          3. I have to admit even though it was an epic season I found myself around the middle somewhat not so bothered and found so much more excitement in Indy car and Moto gp. This is before and after Silverstone. I loved the refresh of those championships which felt like old F1 just racing and less bs.
            Indy car especially!!

        2. José Lopes da Silva
          13th December 2021, 21:44

          And in this British site people are forgetting that thousands of fans throughout the world were kind of tired of the single driver dominance and sincerely believed Verstappen deserved it.
          We know sport is sport, but the fact that Vettel ended up with 4 titles, Hamilton with 7 (so far) and Alonso with just 2 is something that a lot of hardcore F1 fans doesn’t feel exactly right.

          1. Sport is sport – which means competing under set of agreed rules. That’s not what happened on Sunday.

          2. I’m very tired of Mercedes dominance, but I still want the rules of the sport to be enforced properly. Regardless of whether or not Verstappen deserved to win the title, the only way that he did win it was because of an improperly executed safety car. That’s not right. (It’s also not right that he effectively wasn’t penalized for actually brake-checking another driver.)

            I’ll be thrilled when Mercedes isn’t the dominate team any more, and I would have been very happy if a driver from another team had won fair and square, but I’ll never be happy to see the rules of the competition seemingly put aside in favor of “the show”.

          3. Interesting take. And wrong in terms of allowing a sporting contest to play out as a sport.

            Just because one or 2 drivers is dominant doesn’t mean the someone else deserves to win instead. Fernando’s 2 championships are what he won, just because he’s considered a great driver doesn’t mean he deserves more championships.

          4. Jose Lopes da Silva
            14th December 2021, 9:40

            The stewarding along the year is a matter I’m not bringing. I still don’t understand why Hamilton was allowed to cut a chicane to avoid being overtaken and Verstappen wasn’t, in the immediate previous race.
            If you’re expecting the world outside Britain to feel the title was stolen and to boycott F1, you’re deluding yourselves, it won’t happen. This is 1994 all over again.

          5. I think the first lap corner cutting was a 50 / 50 call for the stewards. In the past it has been dealt with as it was here. Lewis has to slow to give the time back he gained from cutting the corner because he was in front and it was a late move by Max up the inside. I can’t remember the lead car being forced to give a place up on the first lap in this way, but I’m sure somebody can remember.
            Generally a lot more leeway is given on the first lap that would otherwise be punished later in the race.

          6. “I still don’t understand why Hamilton was allowed to cut a chicane to avoid being overtaken and Verstappen wasn’t, in the immediate previous race.”

            It’s because Verstappen was on the inside on both occasions. You are trying to make it sound like both drivers did the same thing, when it was Max pushing Lewis off twice in a very similar fashion. Twice it was not possible for Hamilton to both continue on-track and avoid being crashed into, because Verstappen is a hard racer and his choice of breaking point does not leave space for another car on the outside.

            I think in Abu Dhabi especially, being the lead car going into the corner a full car length ahead, Lewis had every right to turn into the apex, get himself T-boned by Max, who would then have been DQed from the DWC / had some points deducted / gotten away with it because it’s lap 1.

          7. José Lopes da Silva
            15th December 2021, 13:03

            “It’s because Verstappen was on the inside on both occasions.”
            I’m was mentioning that occasion were Hamilton pushed Verstappen so that he had to cut the chicane, and then had to lose 2 positions for the next restart.

        3. @diceman

          Ultimately, this race was the championship decider between Max and Lewis & the end provided exactly that fight.

          I think that the more knowledgeable fans don’t understand that if the back markers would have decided the race by holding up Max, a ton of casual fans would have been disgusted by that, being denied a proper fight between the contenders, due to drivers who don’t belong in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place due to being lapped.

          1. This ending wasn’t decided on track at all.

            Had Masi followed the rules, however that looked, and in doing so we had that final lap as it was, I’d agree that the end “provided exactly that fight”. He didn’t, he made up a brand new rule which does not exist and has never been used before. He had options available to him in the rule book, but his own decision handed a specific advantage to Max which he would not have had if procedure had been followed.

            I get what you are saying about more casual fans. However, there are a lot of “casual fans” who don’t understand, say, the off-side rule in Football. Does that mean the referee should be allowed to ignore a player scoring a goal from an off side position, just because it brings the teams level, pushes the game into extra time, and makes for a “better show”? Do you not think there would be absolute outrage in that case?

            You cannot say “We know these are the rules, but people who don’t understand the rules will not like it, so we’re going to throw the rules away” in a sport. At least, you can’t if you want to continue any pretence at being a sport. If you’re going to do that, just relabel F1 as a “Motor racing gameshow” and be done with it.

      3. The viewing numbers for Drive to Survive may not be indicative of future success. My niece for example discovered F1 and Drive to Survive during a COVID 19 Lockdown but did she watch the last few races? No, because she’s now able to go out and do her own thing and F1 is no longer of interest to her. I’d imagine her waning interest now that she’s no longer locked down isn’t unique to her so I don’t think Liberty can depend on the Drive to Survive fans sticking around.

    2. This race almost totally deflated my interest in the sport… until March.

      1. @kerrymaxwell

        Mine too. I decided to watch F1 closely as a distraction from things like politics. But if this is one I’m going to get it is probably time to turn it off.

        1. Watch Indy car to avoid major politics. Or Moto GP. They ae closer to pure racing

          1. Having said that I should mention Indy car oft has yellows and refueling but no different than the outcomes in F1 during the refueling era tbh.

      2. That’s how I feel right now @kerrymaxwell

        For real fans who’ve followed F1 for years it isn’t as easy as just switching off. I’m planning not to pay for sky next season, but once the new cars release and testing starts I know I’ll be desperate to see the running order and how Russel and Hamilton turn out. As of right now tho, I’m just gutted. What should be an exciting winter looking forward to 2022 has been really badly tarnished. Not because Max won, but because of how that win came about. If Masi doesn’t go or the rules aren’t tidied up then I might have just watched my last live race.

    3. 2007 sets the scale of the monetary value for a mess up in this sport.


      1. You also need to include the loss of the first place constructors monies for 2007 and cost of paying for all your freight in 2008.

  8. The priority was to let the title contenders race fairly and finish the race with a green flag (and that happened). The fact Hamilton was in hards and Max softs was not Masi’s problem.

    1. Then as Keith has stated in his opinion, it should have been red-flagged rather than violating their own rules to make it happen.

      1. You only red flag a race when you need repairs to be made. Like I said, the only reason Hamilton lost was because he was on used harder compound, people are only trying to blame Masi instead of Mercedes.

        1. It was checkmate. If Mercedes’ pits and Max is in front Masi would have ended the race under the safety car. They wanted Max to win and had the opportunity with the late crash.

          1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
            13th December 2021, 17:55

            That is highly speculative and there is NO proof of that. There is a lot to not like about Masi, but he has not shown favoritism. He has been pretty lenient and soft as a whole. We need to remember that the “Stewards” are the ones that have made many of the infraction calls between Lewis and Max (aka driving, tech, etc.). Not Masi.

          2. Actually Masi wasn’t going to let lapped cars to overtake, so he was favoring Mercedes if he had chosen to end the race like that. The standard approach in F1 is to let lapped cars to overtake (and you can’t argue against that). Above all that, if they wanted to help Verstapen Hamilton would be penalized for turn 1 for sure, or the VSC would have turned out a SC. You’re just unhappy that Hamilton lost and trying to blame other people for Mercedes wrong choice.

          3. If Masi wanted to help VER why didn’t he make HAM give the place back after turn 6 on lap one? Almost all journalists and driver commentators have said VER made a legitimate overtake?

          4. @Miane the standard approach, as written in the regulations, is to let all lapped cars through, and then bring the SC in at the end of the following lap. However, even if the procedure was accelerated and the “following lap” bit ignored, by the time the track was clear allowing all cars through would have meant a SC finish.

            There is the option in the rules to not let lapped cars through, as used to be the case, and that would have allowed the race to go green. It is completely the race director’s call whether to let the lapped runners through, but by the rules it is all or nothing.

            If we say the race director used his “discretionary powers” to make up a brand new procedure, he did so in a way which benefitted 1 driver and penalised much of the rest of the grid. In any other sport, an official ignoring the rules and coming up with new ones on the spot in a way which benefitted one competitor over all the others would be called match fixing.

            I don’t believe in the slightest that Masi was biased towards Max. However, he was biased towards a “good show”, and by not following the written rules, procedures, or any previous precedent, he did fix the result.

        2. Sorry but this is wrong. Mercedes did the right thing as pitting would have meant giving up track position. They also believed the rules would be followed in that the SC would be out until track is safe then lapped cars allowed to pass then SC pits next lap. None of this happened. I do not know or care who you support but to ignore that Masi messed up is just plain wrong.

          1. They made the wrong call twice. First by stopping Hamilton right after Max, unnecessary and did put Hamilton behind Perez. Second by not stopping Hamilton in the VSC, he was clearly faster there’s no way he wouldn’t catch Verstapen in used tyres.

          2. Miane – While the first pit call is something for debate, the latter really isn’t. Merc would have lost position. If it ended under SC, it was a guaranteed loss. If they got a lap or two, HAM had a good chance, but only if. AND, if they did get two laps, it is not unreasonable to think that HAM would have had a good shot to hold VER off or repass him with old tyres. As it happened, with another lap, I think it would have been difficult for VER.

            They played the odds and didn’t win, but Merc made the best decision they could. How many people would be burning Merc at the stake if they had pitted and finished second under the SC?

          3. @hobo I’m not even sure how that first call is something for debate. We have Toni Cuquerella in the Spanish broadcast F1 race engineer and chief engineer for years, and that’s one of the things he always says. If you’re in front and you have better pace (which Hamilton clearly did), you do exactly what your rival does, just one lap later. That’s standard procedure and the only way you’ll lose a race this way is if something bizarre happened, which obviously did.

            Miane – I can’t see how your argument is that Hamilton’s first stop was wrong because it eventually put him with fresh tyres behind Pérez, who had quite old softs, but somehow putting Hamilton behind Verstappen with fresh scrubbed softs was the right decision (when we saw how fast Verstappen overtook Hamilton in the first lap).

          4. @warheart – I agree. All I meant about the first pit stop was that one can actually debate the timing of it if one really wants to do so. I think given the circumstances (final race, had to finish ahead, etc.) the call Merc made and your strategy summary above were correct.

            My point was that the first stop is fine to discuss, the latter non-stop by Merc was one they were forced into, imo. Pitting was not an option for Merc under the safety car because of the risks.

          5. @hobo understood, and absolutely agree. In hindsight, I think (I’m not really sure when the VSC exactly ended) they would’ve had enough time during the VSC to put a fresh set and still rejoin in front of Verstappen, but at the time it felt really risky given that the VSC could finish at any moment and they only get a few seconds’ warning. In any case, whoever’s behind obviously has the upper hand, they can react to whatever the driver in front does. Specially if they have a gap big enough to pit and not lose position.

        3. you clearly are a netflix blowin mate? thats not why races are red flagged. they are red flagged when it is unsafe for stewards to clear and repair the track while cars continue to run under SC.

          did you also forget that the 5 x cars between max and lewis only existed because max pitted again for a third time and got fresh soft tyres. Massi give redbull double the advantage. they basically let redbull pit for qualification pace soft tyres and then doubled down and said here let me remove all the obstacles you created for yourself so you can fly past lewis and win the championship.

          the decisions made yesterday was shocking and heavily biased to one team either on purpose or by accident. By trying to mainulate the race for what you netflix blow in fans call exciting racing, Massi has actually hand picked the world champion and ruined his integrity.

          Anybody who thinks it was good for the sport and acceptable clearly does not understand formula one regulations and what fair racing means.

        4. You only red flag a race when you need repairs to be made.

          Actually. that’s not true.

          If Competitors or officials are placed in immediate physical danger by cars running on the track, and the clerk of the course deems circumstances are such that the track cannot be negotiated safely, even behind the safety car, the race will be suspended.
          Should it become necessary to suspend the race, the clerk of the course will order red flags to be shown at all marshal posts and the abort lights to be shown at the Line

          All it needs is for the officials to believe that it would be unsafe to continue under the safety car. It’s debatable whether that would be the case here, and personally I don’t think it was necessary, but there is precedent for doing so in similar situations, so it could be done without too much controversy.

    2. Had he done this within the rules, following the established procedures, I would be disappointed but would accept it. He didn’t: he ignored the rules and procedures and made up a rule which handed the win to Max.

      Safety cars have never been handled like this before, and we’ve even had him quoting the regulations and saying he can’t do anything different previously. But suddenly, he thinks he can ignore the rulebook and just make something up. That’s not OK, whoever you favour in the championship.

      1. If he didn’t let lapped cars to overtake that would be clearly in favour of Mercedes, because that’s the standard procedure for ages. The way he did it wasn’t optimal but it was the right call always. Both drivers fought on track, the reason Hamilton was in disadvantage, again, wasn’t Masi problem.

        1. Sure, instead letting only half of the lapped cars to overtake has been the standard procedure for ages….

        2. Miane – so what if an accepted procedure favours one team over another, it doesn’t make the procedure wrong. What’s unfair is overriding a long established standard procedure by making something up on the spot that no-one is familiar with.
          Masi is a sporting officiator who had no business trying to put on a show – he’s there to put on a race under the framework of the regulations. How many times do people point out on this site that the FIA and Liberty are separate bodies? Masi has muddied the waters.

          1. The race should end in gree flag, it’s called racing, it would be very bad to end this season with safety car (and there was an agreement between team leaders that it should not end it that way). Masi did with was necessary to make it happen, the dangerous aproach would be letting lapped cars go through sooner. It’s different from what happened in the past? Maybe, but it was the absolutely right call and Masi is very brave to make that happen. Again, the final result is not his problem.

        3. If the safety car procedure was respected, the race would definitely have finished behind the SC. Merc know the rules and made choices upon it. RB trying during the whole year to play with that as “let them race” and all the pressure they put on Masi to have concession as to applying the rules. The last occasion was this bizar decision to clear the field between LH and Max. I m sure FIA wouldn’t take the same decision should Max not pitted for soft. I don’t know if Merc has any chance of appeal.

          1. If the safety car procedure was respected, the race would definitely have finished behind the SC. Merc know the rules and made choices upon it.

            TBH I don’t think Merc would have made any different choices even if this had been written in the rules. Not pitting, given the circumstances, was the right call on balance of probabilities in both cases given the information available at the time.

        4. Since when is standard procedure to let half of the lapped cars overtake? Since when is standard procedure to NOT wait a lap after the last lapped cars have gone through? Do you actually have any precedents for these ?

        5. If he didn’t let lapped cars to overtake that would be clearly in favour of Mercedes, because that’s the standard procedure for ages.

          The difference is that’s in the rulebook. The only other option available in the rules was to let all the lapped cars go and bring the SC in at the end of the following (final) lap.

          Applying the written rules isn’t the race director favouring one team over another. Sometimes you gain an advantage from the rules, sometimes you lose out, but those are the rules. The race director making something up which has never been done before and is more advantageous to one competitor than the written rules, on the other hand, is the race director favouring that competitor (intentionally or not). There is a massive difference, and I am surprised that some people don’t see it.

    3. Mercedes made their decisions based on the rules. I’d imagine that had they known what Masi was going to do, they would have pitted Hamliton, had him line up directly behind Max and fight for the win on equal tires. How you can’t see that it was Masi’s decision to make up his own rules that wrong footed Mercedes is very bewildering.

      1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
        13th December 2021, 20:44

        I’m not so sure on that. I highly doubt any team knew what to expect whether the race would restart or not. I think your position is very speculative.

        1. Nell (@imabouttogoham)
          13th December 2021, 21:34

          speculative based on their understanding of the rules, and their estimation of how long the SC period would last.

      2. @velocityboy – Except, if Merc pitted HAM would not be behind VER on the same tires. HAM would have either have: 1) been ahead if RBR still pitted, or 2) been behind if RBR did not pit, but HAM on new vs VER old tires.

        1. @hobo but in the event of “2)” then they would have been at the mercy of the race director just finishing the race under SC and throwing away the championship, and given the way Masi just did away with standard procedure, then they were probably right.

          I have serious doubts as to whether Masi would have still gone ahead in the same manner of Ham pitted and Ver didn’t, and that’s the problem. If you do away with years of procedure just because it’s the last race of the season, and the 2 title condenders are separated by lapped cars, and ignore the rest of the grid, you come across as corrupt. In future, when Masi makes a decision, I’m always going to questioning whether he’s doing it in the interest of the sport or “the show”. I’ve never missed Charlie Whiting more than yesterday.

          1. @3dom I don’t actually think Masi was corrupt here, but it certainly *looks* like it. And to be honest that’s just as damaging for the sport.

          2. @3dom – Yes, agreed, pitting from the lead was not an option for Merc because of the risk of it ending under a SC. I was simply pointing out that the options given above by velocityboy were incorrect.

            I do not think Masi did anything corrupt or was doing anything for VER over HAM. But it leaves the door wide open for people who do want to believe that to come pouring through.

        2. Here’s the thing. If Mercedes had pitted Hamilton so he was behind the RB. He would have given up track position to the RB and my guess is Masi would have ended the race under safety car. There would have been no final lap race off.

          Hamilton was damed if it did, and damned if he didn’t.

          That ploy was absolutely perfect for a Verstappen win either way. I warned of possible shenangans and here it was in spades. Some will say it sets up next season perfectly for a Hollywood style show down between Hamilton and verstappen, but do we really watch Motor racing for this degree of hype. The US backers of F1 might think so, its how they sell sport in that country, but it goes against the grain of this European sport.

          The only other thing Hamilton could have done is taken new tires under the previous SC and raced Verstappen on track with Verstappen having stayed on track for position, even then there’s no guarante the same fate would not have befallen him.

          1. Completely agree.

            (Sorry I accidentally reported your post – completely by mistake)

          2. Nevertheless, its a strategic choice mercedes made and the wrong one for that.
            Masi several times stated he wanted a race to end in green. Like in Baku where even the last laps a restart ( and several other races)
            So mercedes could expect a resumed race and act accordingly.

    4. Why was getting the race going at the earliest lap possible the priority? Running the race according to the sporting regulations (that he is supposed to know) is his priority. I would think that sporting integrity is a bigger priority, but maybe I’m not in the new target market for F1.

      1. Racing is priority!
        Like masi said to Toto, its motor racing.
        If there is an option to safely resume racing it should be the case. Not working through the rulebook so mercedes banisters can be satisfied.

        1. There was an option to safely resume racing legally: Not letting the lapped cars past. That decision was in the hands of the race director and, while not standard procedure, is written in the rules.

          The other option written in the rules is to let all lapped cars past and then restart a lap later (I don’t think anyone with even basic comprehension of the English language buys the “any”/”all” BS when reading that rule in context). Doing so, at the time he made the call, would have ended the race under the safety car. Everyone has said they don’t want that, but it was the other legal option available.

          Instead, he took a third option: throw away the rulebook, do something which has never been done before, and hand the title to Max. I’m speechless that anyone can consider that remotely acceptable, even if you accept the BS that Masi can do whatever the hell he wants. Masi chose the WDC by his actions, it was decided in race control, not on track. I consider Max a worthy champion, but this was a complete, utter and total farce which needs to be challenged and stopped from happening again.

  9. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
    13th December 2021, 16:50

    I’m in the “slightly agree” camp I suppose. I don’t like lapped cars interfering with leaders at restarts, so I generally like getting them out of the way of the front runners. My mind set is that if your lapped, its not your day so move a side and not get in the way of the leaders. The problem here and the reason why I “slightly agree” is that Masi only allowed cars in between Lewis and Max let through. It should be all or none because Sainz and others were not given a fair shake here. So in short… I agree with Masi’s intent, just poorly executed. I don’t mind Race Control having some flexibility to manage the race as you can’t realistically have rules covering every situation that comes up (just most). I don’t see Masi completely over-stepping but I think his call was unfair to the rest of the field, outside of Max and Lewis.

    Maybe the best option in the future to fast track restarts at the end of races like this. Is to not “allow” lapped cars to un-lap themselves, but have all lapped cars (keep their order with no pit-stops) drive down pit lane to let all those on lead lap through and que back up behind them keeping their order. This would allow lead lap cars race each other and lapped car fairly race each other. That would be my suggestion and would provide Race Control one an additional option as no option available here was really ideal!

    1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
      13th December 2021, 16:54

      Just to add to my suggestion. Not allowing lapped cars to un-lap should only be applied after a particular distance in a race is achieved (ex condition is applicable where 10 laps or less are remaining in the race).

    2. @flyingferrarim I like the germ of your idea, but the problem I see is that this shortens the race for the lapped cars, meaning that they have more fuel left than the rest, and better tyres. These seem like small things, but the consequences would need to be thought through.

      1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
        13th December 2021, 17:33

        being a lap down in the first place not result in the same? Your not completing that last lap anyways because your a lap down.

        1. Those drivers are still competing. All season it is usually only Red Bull and Mercedes on the lead lap.

          1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
            13th December 2021, 17:47

            That is not true. It does happen, but its not a regular situation. And this would only be applied to fast track a restart at the very end of the race if a race is at risk finishing under SC. The likely-hood of requiring fast tracking restart should be very rare. But its better than any of the other alternatives that is being tossed around and what Masi had to work with.

      2. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
        13th December 2021, 17:43

        maybe some clarity is needed. I’m only asking for lapped cars to drive through the pits to then file in behind after the lead lap cars passed the pit lane. Lapped cars exit pit lane to join tail end of the field to immediately to take part in the race restart.

      3. The point is, you cant allow a race restart and exclude over half the dam grid.. Its not one rule for MV and a different rule for every one else. Its the same rules for all, its a sport not a show
        If i wanted to watch a show about racing ill watch wacky racers, not the supposedly the pinicle of motor sport, the best of the rest, the worlds best drivers driving the best cars with a winner decided by Masi… The race director, the show master extraordinar rule maker who decides what rules stand and what dont when he is supposed to abide by the dam rules in the first place…. If he dont like it he will nust make a new one on the spot.. For the next 20.races MV has to start last with just two wheels.. Some sport this sh it is…

        1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
          13th December 2021, 20:39

          I’m not sure what/who your point is directed too. Please elaborate.

    3. @flyingferrarim The lapped cars are only part of the problem – the other part is that the safety car was called in a lap earlier than the regulations say.

    4. How about just close the pit lane during vsc and sc unless the pit straight is blocked no pitting unless for safety reasons ie a puncture.

      1. 100% this
        No pit stops allowed during VSC or SC and no tyre changes allowed under red flag unless proof of damage is given either. While were at it amend the rule that says you can take your racing line to: you can take your racing line unless any part of a competitors car is along side yours! That way no one gets pushed off track due to late lunges etc.

  10. It’s time to put a stop to this kind of mid-race lobbying.

    Less (selective) broadcasting of these conversations (at least during the race) would be good too.

  11. I don’t think any Hamilton / Merc fans, myself included, had an issue with Max winning the championship. But the way in which it was won was not fair or sporting.
    Another poster commented that if Max had led most of the race and won, fair enough, no one would be so sour about it.
    But that ending was just nonsense, bias aside, if that had been Max, I would be saying the same thing.
    People have talked about luck balancing out over the season on here, again if it was luck, no one would feel that way, this wasn’t a lucky safety car for Max, it was an engineered opportunity, albeit a slam dunk one for him to win, so I don’t think he is undeserved champion at all over the season, but the season included this race. And this race was Hamiltons in the bag before the last lap farce, so Lewis should be champion. And for people to say “he overtook him on track” was there really anything different going to happen after that decision. The FIA has a lot to answer for, Max and Lewis provided an amazing season. But when it came down to the final, regardless of what the stats say, everyone will remember this was Hamiltons trophy in reality.

    1. My opinion is of out side the title, but of Sainz not being given the same chance to fight for the top two spots but yet had to defend his podium from behind, If he was treated the same he quite possbily could have nicked the win of both MV and LH who was both compromised fighting each other he could have sneaked one up the inside or in the slip stream but was never allowed the chance because the race director rewrote the sports governing rules to benefit just one participant.

      life long Ferrari fan angered by the lack of fair treatment given in a SPORT.

      13th December 2021, 22:43

      Couldn’t agree more. As I understand it, Masi wanted the race to end with cars racing rather than behind the safety car. Well it did end with racing, Mercedes and Hamilton were way in front so the race should have ended behind the safety car and not at the whim of a race director changing his mind! The race was already run and won. Tragic!!

      1. The race was already run and won

        Nope the race ends in the last lap.
        Try to follow F1 closer maybe it will hurt less when rules and regulations work both ways.
        A SC in the last part always favors someone more then the other.. At the moment a SC was called Lewis knew there could be a problem. He wanted to pit, listen tot the radio traffic.
        He understood very well the consequences, but the mercedes team/strategist decided otherwise.

  12. I agree that the race should have ended under green flag conditions. After all it was a relatively minor crash that caused the safety car and it’s long said that the race direction tries to avoid finishing a race under a safety car.

    The race was restarted and the car with the fresh rubber won the race fair and square, as we’ve often seen before. Lucky? Yes? Cruel for Lewis? Again yes, but that’s part of the game.

    However the confusion with the lapped cars created a sour feeling to many (me included). One can only wonder would Massi have made such an error if he had been allowed to do his job unaffected by the teams’ lobbying? Surely if the lapped cars were allowed to pass a couple of laps earlier as they should have (as Vettel and Alonso said) we’d only talk about the bad luck Lewis had. Besides, it’s a bit unsportsmanlike to lobby the race director not to restart a motor race when the track is clear.

    However watching this again today I tend to believe that even though race direction messed up big time it didn’t really affect the championship as the restart took place as it should have, at least between the 2 contenders.

    After this one settles down Massi should probably resign.

    1. @afonic They are other ways to achieve that. Throw a red flag as soon as it is evident the car is in the way and have a standing or rolling start, then you have a situation according to the rule book allowing every driver and team to react and have a go at the end of the race to be finished under green flags. No need to tweak and bend some other rules because they didn’t make the proper call for what they want to achieve, or are being talked into changing their mind.

      I mean if you try to achieve something in particular, know your options and race director had them available.

      1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
        13th December 2021, 17:29

        Not really. Masi can’t just throw a “red flag” for anything outside of safety. The Williams accident does not meet the requirements for a red flag. Throwing a red flag is no different than what folks here are complaining about. You need a very good reason to stop a race. Stopping it for the sole reason to finish under green flag conditions is NOT permitted. I would argue that throwing a red flag, in this situation, would be worse. Reason would be he “partially followed procedure” on Sunday, but throwing a red flag would “not be following any procedure at all”. I think folks need to understand the point of the red flag before using as an argument in this situation. This issue, is the fact that the present rules do not account for this exact situation. So its obvious that the rules need to be looked and be adjusted accordingly.

        1. @flyingferrarim Interesting to have different views. Latifi’s car stopped on track with debris around, a red flag would not be shocking and there is no clear rule defining when one should be used, it’s up to appreciation. I don’t say it would be appropriate or the incident required one, but in a sense, IF Masi is responding to instruction from Liberty to try to finish under green flag, and spice up the show or whatever reason, a red flag could be used without causing as much upset as the way they handled it and he has the authority for that.

          I don’t think rules should account for all possible situation, it’s long enough already, they should give clear guidelines about what can be used and not “your race might depend on a joker thrown out by race director”.

          Red flag is actually a possibility in the rule book, what we saw was an new addition.

          1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
            13th December 2021, 19:59

            Red flag conditions is pretty clear as to when to be used. I don’t see the imminent danger to competitors or spectators requiring session stoppage. So I disagree that a red flag was a possibility since that’s not the intention nor meaning of the red flag. If Masi did use the red flag, how does that make it more right?

            I agree in that the rules need to seek further clarity behind Race Controls decisions, but I also believe Race Control should have flexibility to navigate unique situations like this. It just needs to be spelled out better than it currently is.

          2. Red flag situations are very clearly stated in the rules..
            There must be imminent danger.
            I get it you want to bend rules favoring lewis, but thats not the way to solve FIA issues.

        2. @flyingferrarim, do you see the irony in your statement? You’re saying Masi couldn’t throw a red flag because the RULES don’t allow it. But Masi didn’t follow the rules leading up to the restart so why would you expect him to follow the rules for a red flag? If he was going to make stuff up on the fly, red flagging the race was the best option.

          1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
            13th December 2021, 20:01

            Well, first of all Masi followed most of the rules laid out regarding SC. A red flag use would fallow no rules. Big difference. In this case you can argue Masi did his best to follow procedure, you can’t argue that if he put out a red flag.

        3. Hiland, Masi had no trouble bending the restart rules, so why not the red flag one? I’ll tell you why not……because then Ham would have been able to change his tyres and Max is not guaranteed the win

          1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
            13th December 2021, 20:18

            I’ll say what I said in the above reply. Masi followed most of the rules laid out regarding SC which showed he at least attempted to stick with procedure. Using a red flag would follow no rules or any precedence or in a way the red flag is intended to be used. Big difference here. So your saying it is more fair for Masi to use a “red flag” in a situation that a red flag would never be used for? In turn giving Hamilton/Merc a free stop after committing to a strategy strictly to keep track position and therefor gain an advantage? Do you see the irony in that? No matter what he decided, some where going to gain and others not. I think calling for a red flag is the least fair thing in this case as no competitor or spectator was in imminent danger from the hazard on track and use it for the sake of what? That is manufacturing the race results more so than what Masi ultimately decided on that many are complaining about.

            I agree with Masi’s intent in this case. I do not agree with how it was executed by not allowing “ALL” lapped cars through. I do not think Masi is bias either in which you suggest.

          2. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
            13th December 2021, 20:33

            Question, what if Lewis pitted for Softs and Max stayed out to take track position and Masi made the same choice that we saw him do. What would your position be in that case? RBR rolled the dice as they where in a position do so. I think Merc had no choice but to try and stick it out but it didn’t work out for them. I think @afonic is correct in that people are too caught up with the results. Lets be honest, there was no good solution and I think it’s obvious that Masi/Race Control need more tools when faced with this sort of situation in the future. We watch races to see these guys battle not finish under yellow and red flag is not a good solution, as many seem to suggest, as it wipes the strategy out of the equation. Drivers where up in arms in Jedah about the red flag there and how it destroyed peoples races. On top of that, folks had argued that the red flag was unnecessary there (repairing a barrier) but is necessary in this instance (basic accident requiring basic cleanup)?

          3. My reply would be the same. I’m Tifosi so I was pretty neutral (I say pretty neutral, because I developed a dislike of Horner through the year). What Masi and the FIA did was to basically say F1 is not a sport and we’ll do whatever we feel will enhance the show and that’s where I have an issue. Imagine this being done in another sport, there is a handball in the box and the ref decides to call a foul but not award a penalty kick for example? The rules must be followed in sport regardless of whether the outcome would be good for TV or not.

          4. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
            13th December 2021, 22:11

            I don’t have a horse in this race either as I’m Ferrari Fan myself and have grown to dislike for Both Wolfe and Horner.

            I think the handball reference is not the best comparison. I agree that the rules should be followed 100%. I also think there are situations that rules do not cover various situations like this very well. Hence, some flexibility given to Race Control to make calls such as this. Though, I will agree that the clarity of what sort of “flexibility” Masi is given is as clear as mud. None the less, even though I don’t 100% agree with what was done. I do agree with intent to remove the back markers from the leaders race for the restart. My issue is that it was not applied fairly to the entire field (those on the lead lap specifically) so drivers like Sainz was denied a fair shot at a win. My gripe isn’t really with the procedure getting rushed (which is really what this is all about), but how it was only applied to bring 1st and 2nd together and not 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc.

          5. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
            13th December 2021, 22:14

            I’ll also add that I am NO FAN of MAX! I like Lewis better as a driver! Lewis is a complete driver IMO.

          6. I think @afonic is correct in that people are too caught up with the results. Lets be honest, there was no good solution and I think it’s obvious that Masi/Race Control need more tools when faced with this sort of situation in the future.

            @flyingferrarim there was a good solution: stick to normal procedure, by either 1) letting no cars unlap themselves if he didn’t think there was enough time, or 2) letting all cars unlap themselves (which in would have led to finishing under the safety car). Both of those solutions would have been fair because that’s generally what has been done in the past, and has been accepted. If those solutions are deemed too inflexible for situations like yesterday, then the rules should be changed in the off season and amended for a different season, not mid-race!

          7. @3dom This.

            Letting backmarkers through gives an advantage to those those had backmarkers in front of them. Allowing all backmarkers through is standard procedure and cannot be argued with. However, given that what was done was not standard procedure (in fact, was brand new and has never been done before), allowing only those in front of Max through was either handing him, and only him, and advantage denied to all other drivers, or it is penalising every other driver on the track who had backmarkers in front of them.

            Nobody could have legitimately argued at his actions had he followed any of the procedures laid out in the rules. However, by making up something brand new on the spot, he has opened himself up to legitimate criticism. He has brought himself and the “sport” into disrepute.

      2. @jeanrien he probably could have, however that accident was nowhere serious enough to throw a red flag.

        Bottom line, if the lapped cars were allowed to overtake the safety car a lap earlier (which they could very much have been allowed to do), everything would be much clearer. That would be the optimal solution.

        The whole outrage here and in other places seems to originate on which driver won and it would be reversed if the race had ended under the safety car.

        1. It isn’t, to me, about which driver won. I would hope I would be just as outraged had the positions been reversed. We cannot have officials ignoring the rulebook or making up new rules on the spot. In any other sport, a referee or other official who did so would not be officiating at that level again for a long time.

          Had the race director allowed all lapped cars past, as per procedure, a lap or 2 earlier, that would have been well within the rules. I’d have been gutted for Hamilton, but that’s the luck of the draw: the rules would have been followed and there would be nothing legitimate to complain about. This, though… I cannot and will not accept that it is fair or right, and it needs never to happen again.

  13. “appears to have violated the FIA’s own rules”

    15.3 of the sporting regs states the Race Director has “overriding authority” of “the use of the safety car” (e).

    The regs are purposely broad and allow for Masi to call it however he wants to.

    1. I completely agree, it isn’t a slam-dunk that rules were broken. That is merely the interpretation a number of people (chiefly Lewis fans and the UK media) have chosen to apply to it. As the stewards said in their reasoning for throwing out the Mercedes protest, the rules around letting lapped cars overtake are there in order to facilitate a swifter return to meaningful racing, and avoid the spectacle of a good race ruined by backmarkers being in the way. At the end of the day, F1 is a sport and the ‘spectacle’ is part of the aim of the game ultimately.

      1. @asherway @tony
        15.3 doesn’t state that the race director has overriding authority over the sporting regulations. It states that he has the overriding authority over the clerk of the course.

        Red Bull and the stewards know this. That’s why Red Bull quoted only some parts of the 15.3 (just like Asherway above) and why the stewards were so vague about 15.3.

          1. +1

            Spot on!

        1. I originally thought the same thing, although re-reading 15.3 I’m not so sure. 15.3 lists the following five matters where the Race Director has overriding authority:

          a) The control of practice, sprint qualifying session and the race, adherence to the timetable and, if he deems it necessary, the making of any proposal to the stewards to modify the timetable in accordance with the Code or Sporting Regulations.
          b) The stopping of any car in accordance with the Code or Sporting Regulations.
          c) The stopping of practice, suspension of a sprint qualifying session or suspension of the race in accordance with the Sporting Regulations if he deems it unsafe to continue and ensuring that the correct restart procedure is carried out.
          d) The starting procedure.
          e) The use of the safety car.

          It’s interesting that a, b & c all include “in accordance with the Sporting Regulations” but d & e do not. The fact that they’ve used that statement for some items but not others suggests that the Race Director may actually have the power to do some things contrary to the Sporting Regulations. Otherwise why not include it in all five items?

          1. You missed out the most important bit of the clause though, which comes directly before the elements you cited:

            The clerk of the course shall work in permanent consultation with the Race Director. The Race
            Director shall have overriding authority in the following matters and the clerk of the course may
            give orders in respect of them only with his express agreement:

            All of points (a) to (e) are within the context of this section, and it essentially says that the race director can over-ride the clerk of the course in each of those areas. Remember that 48.12 and 48.13 both refer to clerk of the course, and not the race director. 15.3 therefore makes it clear that the race director can instruct the clerk what to do, even if its the clerk that is named in a particular regulation.

            Whilst it’s only my interpretation of this rule, I don’t see how it would allow the race director to ignore a regulation, merely override the clerk if needed (whilst remaining within the regulations).

      2. Tony I don’t think it’s just the UK media this time.

    2. On safety grounds, I agree that he needs some flexibility, though I don’t believe that’s what this rule is about.

      Making up a rule and ignoring all established procedures and precedents to allow a better TV spectacle is not on, especially when doing so hands an advantage to one driver over another.

    3. 15.3 is about article 15, which handles the stuff between the clerk of the course and the race director. It does not imply, that the race director can overrule every other rule regarding the safety car.

      1. Do your homework again:
        The Race
        Director shall have overriding authority in the following matters

        e) The use of the safety car.

        15.3 The clerk of the course shall work in permanent consultation with the Race Director. The Race
        Director shall have overriding authority in the following matters and the clerk of the course may
        give orders in respect of them only with his express agreement:
        a) The control of practice and the race, adherence to the timetable and, if he deems it
        necessary, the making of any proposal to the stewards to modify the timetable in
        accordance with the Code or Sporting Regulations.
        b) The stopping of any car in accordance with the Code or Sporting Regulations.
        c) The stopping of practice or suspension of the race in accordance with the Sporting
        Regulations if he deems it unsafe to continue and ensuring that the correct restart
        procedure is carried out.
        d) The starting procedure.
        e) The use of the safety car.

        1. Did my homework. Guess what, 15.3 still handles things between Clerk of the course and Race director. Fortunatelty this is not to be decided by fans, but hopefully by courts…

          15.1 From among holders of an FIA Super Licence the following officials will be nominated by the FIA:
          a) Three stewards one of whom will be appointed chairman.
          b) A Race Director.
          c) A Permanent Starter.
          15.2 From among holders of an FIA Super Licence the following officials will be nominated by the ASN
          and their names sent to the FIA at the same time as the application to organise the Event:
          a) One steward from among the ASNs nationals.
          b) The clerk of the course.
          15.3 The clerk of the course shall work in permanent consultation with the Race Director. The Race
          Director shall have overriding authority in the following matters and the clerk of the course may
          give orders in respect of them only with his express agreement:
          a) The control of practice, sprint qualifying session and the race, adherence to the timetable
          and, if he deems it necessary, the making of any proposal to the stewards to modify the
          timetable in accordance with the Code or Sporting Regulations.
          b) The stopping of any car in accordance with the Code or Sporting Regulations.
          c) The stopping of practice, suspension of a sprint qualifying session or suspension of the
          race in accordance with the Sporting Regulations if he deems it unsafe to continue and
          ensuring that the correct restart procedure is carried out.
          d) The starting procedure.
          e) The use of the safety car.

        2. @erikje
          Are you saying that 15.3 gives the race director the authority to override sporting regulations regarding “d) The starting procedure” and, for instance, use reverse grid just for entertainment? Of course not, that would be silly.

          1. I think if i see those rules yes he can because it’s not ended with

            “in accordance with the Sporting Regulations

            Everyone would be right if that was behind the

            e) The use of the safety car.

            So if the rules said: e) The use of the safety car in accordance with the Sporting Regulations then everyone was right and this is why i think Mercedes isn’t going to court because even judge is going to read that.

            Is this fair no they should extend the race with 1 lap so this never can happen again. (and cars should have enough fuel because they are saving behind a safertycar)

          2. @macleod I think the problem I have with this interpretation is that it hands unrestricted power to the Race Director. There would be nothing in the regulations stopping him deploying the SC without need, calling it in without informing everyone, or even stopping half the cars forming up on the grid until select individuals are half way round the first lap. I don’t think he would ever do anything that blatant, but then again I didn’t think he’d do anything as blatant as he did on Sunday…

      2. Article 15 is titled ‘OFFICIALS’, not ‘stuff between the clerk of the course and the race director’.

        This Article (15.3) is there precisely to protect the Race Director and allow them to exercise their authority over various things including the safety car.

        1. But nit the fias spkrting code which is used in all racing series who uses its sporting code… We even have an example of mr masi stating he cant allow a few but only all cars or none just two years ago which will be used against him when its taken to CAS. The most important thing in any sport is its integrity and its fair rules FOR ALL CONTESTANTS. As soon as one is favoured over another its not sport and defo isnt when officials change rules just for mr MV. And rewrite the rules to getvthe desired out come they wanted, thats race fixing / manipulation…

        2. Its two Sentences in a paragraph, and one cannot extract one of them and remove its context. But hopefully this gets solved in a court. I am pretty sure this made-up result cannot be held.

    4. As numerous lawyers have pointed out, all 15.3 means is Masi has overriding authority to use a safety car. He can only do so within the limits of the sporting regulations. In law, 15.3 doesn’t over ride the clauses Mercedes are appealing against. The regulations need to followed in full, so Masi cannot randomly “call it however he wants to.” He’s limited to refereeing, not deciding to change rules and past precedent to put on a “spectacle”. The stewards and Masi aren’t lawyers, so their rejection of the appeals after the race isn’t binding. Hence their written decision included the caveat stated it was subject to appeal to the FAI Appeals body in Paris. Beyond that, formal court proceedings may follow as the FIA may be judged to have breached its own regulations. Marking your own homework is frowned upon in the legal system.

    5. @asherway He has overriding authority over the clerk of the course (and other officials), NOT over the regulations.

      See the General Undertaking:

      2.1 All drivers, Competitors and officials participating in the Championship undertake, on behalf of themselves, their employees, agents and suppliers, to observe all the provisions as supplemented or amended of the International Sporting Code (the Code), the Formula One Technical Regulations (Technical Regulations), the Formula One Financial Regulations (Financial Regulations) and the present Sporting Regulations together referred to as “the Regulations”.
      2.2 The Championship and each of its Events is governed by the FIA in accordance with the Regulations. Event means any event entered into the FIA Formula One Championship Calendar for any year commencing 24 hours before P1 is scheduled to take place and ending at the time for the lodging of a protest under the terms of the Code or the time when a technical or sporting certification has been carried out under the terms of the Code, whichever is the later.

    6. You’ve misunderstood how that rule works.
      Masi can choose to deploy and withdraw the safety car as he chooses, but in order to withdraw the safety car he has the follow the procedures as is stated in the rules. It clearly says if lapped cars are allowed past the safety car then ALL lapped cars are allowed past and the safety car can be withdrawn ON THE NEXT LAP. What we got was some lapped cars allowed past with the safety car withdrawn immediately. A very clear breach of the rules.

  14. Dave (@davewillisporter)
    13th December 2021, 16:52

    My issue is not a) following the sporting regulations, which the strategists base their strategies on in these circumstances and b) teams, no matter who, lobbying the race director who is supposed to be focussed on safety primarily, and racing secondarily.

    As a pro making calls that have huge implications, the strategists need a solid playbook to make decisions, and the race director should not be barraged by bleating me me me characters while making their decisions.

    1. In the circumstances of a safety car at the end of the race where all the teams have agreed to try and finish under green flag conditions, where there isn’t time to allow all cars to unlap, leave all cars in position and go green. Write that into the rules.

    2. Teams cannot contact the race director directly. They can put in a request and the race director can get back to them if they deem it appropriate but contacting directly over radio is ridiculous. The teams will speak only when spoken to.

  15. Strongly disagree for pretty much the reasons mentioned.
    Using a safety car instead of aborting the race and calling it in earlier I’m ok with. At that state it’s more important to get a race underway than giving the backmarkers a big enough gap once they’ve been released (which shouldn’t be allowed in the first place though…).
    But, and this is the mayor but, if you let 5 drivers through you surely have the time to release the remaining 3 as well. They only need a few seconds more and for fairness sake that’s absolutely mandatory.
    By denying them that, you’ve a) robbed them the chance of racing for points and b) have heavily disadvantaged the car in P3.

    1. So what about those still fighting for points? Screw them yeah? You dont matter, only one that matters is mv? Thats not sport. Sorry. And if that is the out come from the fia ill demand my whole season sub back for f1 tv for being miss sold a show in the name of sport.

  16. Don’t feed the trolls, nor the conspirators and the FIA did an excellent job at the latest at the end of the season.
    Entering this race, I didn’t mind either driver winning as there is a case for (and against) both during this season and it will remain as the most enjoyable I can remember on many fronts. The stewarding is not one of them. It feels like it has gone from bad to worse by their own doing. Early in the season, Alonso started to point out the discrepancies and lack of clarity, had some dodgy moves of his own to test the extend of the allowed, and this didn’t trigger any response. From there, some drivers pushed the boundaries, likes kids would challenge the authority, to find out where they stand but it remained unclear. There was never going to be a turn on this without a stance from FIA, race direction or stewards and this never came. This last decision is just the continuity.

    As a sportsman, I don’t mind rules changing over time as long as they are consistent and consistently applied. They might be opened to interpretation but they should have a definition, and be clarified upon request. With all the tools and measurement available today, we have never been closer to be able to decrease the human factor in the equation, making the sport more fair, and yet human decisions have influenced the outcome of more races this year than I can remember for a while.

    I really hope they sort this out for next year so that it remains enjoyable to watch F1, in addition to avoid any escalation from the drivers. I am also afraid, it might have consequence about discussions taking place between teams as it might divide them more than before.

    No driver or team to blame for their actions really, and of course if they gain lobbying power, they’ll continue to use it. The same way that arguing kids will start fighting if nobody stops them one way or another.

  17. I mostly agree with Keith‘ opinion.

    Yes we shouldn‘t allow team bosses to call up race direction in the future, yes Masi was under a lot of pressure (because of this) but this excuse just doesn’t cut the deal.
    The man is race director in the highest class of motorSPORT. He should be able to deal with pressure. His task is to ensure the race is held in an safe, orderly and fair manner. That’s it!
    In my opinion he failed miserably yesterday. In my opinion he already failed in Saudi Arabia. His concern is not the show or a desirable way to end the race/season.
    I‘m sorry but „pressure“ just isn’t enough of an excuse for the man.

  18. I think all cars should’ve been let through but if they thought there wasn’t time to do it I think this is a good solution.

    With the SC and red flags you sometimes get lucky and in this case it worked for Max where earlier it worked for Lewis.

  19. Interesting the Red flag option is mentioned. It seems bending the rules favouring lewis is less of a problem on this site.
    Red flags are only allowed when there is danger on track. In baku there was a lot of debris on the fastest part of the track. Very dangerous and a good reason for a red flag.

    The sole responsibility of the race director is taking care of racing. His approach was clean the track as soon as possible and resume racing when it was safe to do so.
    He found a way to use the rules to this cause and created an opportunity to resume the race for at least one lap.

    The fact the mercedes team decided not to pit hamilton was a gamble. They hoped and pressured Masi to end the race under the SC. Or even shorten the race to let lewis win. That would have been a true disgrace.

    So there still is a lot to learn for FIA and Masi and the way the stewarding this year was very inconsistent.
    Lets hope next year is better…

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      13th December 2021, 19:07

      A red flag would have thrown away all of Lewis’ work in this race to stay ahead under 3 different attacks. Don’t forget Max started ahead on softs, had a ridiculous perpendicular overtake, had the same tyre and assistance from Perez, had new tyres vs Lewis’ old tyre and Lewis was still ahead.

      The red flag would have thrown all that away and reduced the race and championship to a single lap or a few laps race where other variables like fuel may have come into play. It still wouldn’t have been better than the single lap race but we both know that Max would have collided with Lewis in frustration at the end since it would benefit him.

      It would have been a very biased option towards Red Bull getting them back in the game after Lewis had won the race 3 times in a row.

    2. I don’t think there should have been a red flag. For me, the flags should only be shown based on safety, not on how it will affect the race. The only correct decision following all the rules and throwing safety cars and red flags would have been to let it finish under the safety car. Anti-climatic, maybe. But fair.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        13th December 2021, 20:42

        @f1frog I agree with you – it should have ended under safety car.

        1. @f1frog and @freelittlebirds

          Agree with both of you. Latifi’s car and debris was cleared quickly, but I wonder if there was “pressure” on the stewards to do this

          1. You could also argue there was preassure on the safety car to drive much slower than normal. Lewis mentioned on the radio that safety car was nowhere near its normal safety car speed. That’s when he twigged ‘its being manipulated’.

            This had two effects, A/ Hamilton could not keep temperatures up for the restart, and B/ fewer laps were done by the safety car. They were very likely under stewards orders to slow down, to allow that last lap.

            It would be interesting to hear the radio messages to the safety car.

          2. @Ajaxn

            There is no minimum safety car speed, as far as I can tell. In my opinion, the most legal option for the race director to get the desired result (a green flag ending with the cars in proper order) would be to stop the safety car for a while or have it crawl around at walking speed, allowing the backmarkers to unlap themselves without reducing the remaining laps.

      2. Exactly.

  20. Maybe you can change the question by “are you fan of Lewis or Max” it will have the same result this poll is pointless. I think in the end Michael Masi would always been critisized no matter what decision he would have made. Leave the lapped cars and than race, not race the final lap, or made the decision like he did he will always be the man who is to blame. Even the decision the stewards make is ultimately always his fault. I’m glad I’m not in his shoes.

    Having said that I never understood why they decided to introduce the rule of the “lapped cars” and the red flag “you can rebuild your car” rule. But that is not the only rule in F1 I don’t agree with.

    1. There’s many of us though who are neutral and just wanted something epic, but instead something that has never been done before decided the race. They should have just red flagged it and done the standing start.

      Personally I never liked the idea of the standing restart. During redflags they should line up in the pit lane as they were on track, lapped cars and all, lapped cars should not get to unlap and drivers who didn’t take a chance to change tyres under safety car should not get a free change under redflag. They should then do one lap under the safety car and get going. No lottery standing starts, no wasting time unlapping. The safety car should only be for bunching up the field so marshalls can work safely. Nothing else

    2. At least there were other options which fit within the rules. This didn’t, at all. I’d be saying the same if the situation was reversed.

      The race director cannot be allowed to make things up as he goes shopping unless the established procedures present a safety issue. These didn’t. He could have gone green without letting the back markets through, which would probably still have led to a Max win, or he could let all the lapped cars through and bring the car in at the end of the following lap, which would end the race under the safety car. Those were his options under the rules. No matter the final result, this was just wrong.

      1. @broke1984 I totally agree with your view. SC or Red Flag should have a minimal impact on the race.
        @drmouse My point is that although other options where possible it would always been critisized by one or the other. If they had left the lapped cars in place it would not be consistent with previous SC this year. Somebody needs to defend Michael Masi in his difficult job. I think he did what he felt was the right choice at that moment without being biased.

        1. Why does he need defending? Why should he do something based on what he ‘feels’ is right? It’s a sport, there are rules and they need to be followed not made up. If the race ends under safety car it ends under safety car and we blame Latifi not Masi.

        2. @grapmg

          I have been defending Masi for a long time, but before now he has pretty much complied with the rules and procedures. However, I cannot defend him binning the rulebook this race and making up something which hands an advantage to one driver and penalises pretty much all the others. If it was purposely done (ignoring the rules), whether “for the show” or other reasons, it is fixing the result of the race. If it was an accident, so he didn’t realise the rules don’t allow this, the it is incompetence. Either way, I cannot see his position as being tenable.

    3. Or he could just, i dont know, follow the SPORTING regulations he is SUPPOSED to be following and adhearing too NOT making up his own rules and regualtions not just for f1 ( As the same sporting regualtions do in fact cover all series covered by the sporting regulations eg f1, f2, f3 and FE and so on…. ) no way is 1 man entitled to completely change all this just to make the last lap a show in an official race that is supposed to be held to those exact rules he has just rewritten ( During the race its self with no prior warning either after also already telling the whole grid how he would approach the rest of the race ( As per the rules ) changing his mind exactly 30 secs after having CH screaming down the phone at him and suddenly change his mind?? )? if this stands it means he can officially do what the hell he likes during any race ( Not just him either but all race director’s who are supposed to be upholding the rules in all FIA series ) not rewritting the rules as and when they see fit and only apply it to one racer on the grid too.. come on… where is the FIA’s sporting integrity?

  21. I couldn’t possibly strongly disagree any stronger or with more disagreement.

    I’ve never been more angry at a sporting decision.

    1. I think calling it a sporting decision is generous…

      1. @drmouse There’s no business like showbusiness

  22. It was handled awfully and by saying article 48.13 over rides 48.12 they have basically said that the race director can do as he wishes no matter the sports regulations. It sets a dangerous precedence and F1 will lose a lot of viewers over this. An epic season was tarnished by race fixing by the referees. I didn’t even care who came on top but the season has been ruined for me by this and other dodgy decisions against multiple drivers.

    1. The regs involved are a little different.

      48.13 is defining how to inform the teams that the SC is coming in and the procedure to follow after that. I can understand that, once the message has been sent, the procedure must be followed and the SC must come in, but this clause shouldn’t have been triggered until 48.12 allowed it.

      Say I give you a list of things to do when the fire alarm goes off, with the instruction that the fire alarm should only be triggered in an emergency. When the fire alarm goes off, you should follow that list, but that doesn’t absolve you from blame if you had pulled the alarm without need.

      That’s what happened here. Masi “pulled the alarm”, triggering 48.13, at which point that procedure had to be followed and the safety car come in. However, it was the “pulling the alarm” at the wrong time which was not allowed.

  23. Strongly disagree but from the Hollywood point of view agree. Not only did they put Max in position to win but they pullled Checo off the track and left the back markers between Max and Sainz. This ensured that only Max passed Hamilton providing the myth that only Max could beat Hamilton on that lap. The myth would have been tainted if Checo and/or Sainz go flying past Hamilton on the lap too.

  24. This may not be a popular opinion, but in my somewhat uninformed opinion, Masi didn’t so much make the right decision as the least bad one possible in the situation, he had put himself in.

    Should he have called a red flag right away? Perhaps, but he didn’t, and so had to go on from where that decision left the race, with a constantly narrowing scope of possible solutions for each lap after the SC. Could have, would have, should have, and all that.

    No matter what he did would have an impact on the championship. To me, giving both champion contenders at least the chance of one final lap of racing, a chance for either defending the lead or taking the lead, was the least unfair of all the unfair options available.

    ps. And I don’t really care whether HAM or VER became champion. Viewed over the entire season, either would be a worthy winner. I think HAM deserved to win the last race on merit, but sometimes bad luck strikes in the form of someone else’s accident. Has happened before, will happen again.

    1. I cannot agree at all. I think he made the worst possible one.

      At the point he made the call, he had 2 legal options available to him by the rulebook.
      a) He could have let all lapped cars past, following standard procedure as done at 99% of races, but this would have led to a safety car finish.
      b) He could have restarted without allowing all cars past. This would have allowed one racing lap, albeit with backmarkers for Max to clear.

      Those were his 2 options by the rules at that point. Instead he chose to ignore the rules and make up option C, which benefitted one driver over all others. How can ignoring the rules and making up something which has never been done before and hands a clear advantage to one driver be “the least bad [decision] possible”? It is incredibly damaging to the “sport”. Can you imaging the uproar if the referee at a world cup final just made up a new rule which handed the win to one team?

  25. Even if you didn’t want to see Hamilton win, from a purely logical perspective how can it possibly have been fair to benefit Verstappen by getting lapped cars out of his way while not doing the same for every other driver?

    A red flag and restart with Verstappen coming out on top perfectly fair, the safety car happening earlier and normal unlapping procedure being followed with Verstappen coming out on top perfectly fair, even skipping the lapped cars unlapping themselves and Verstappen passing them and Hamilton in just one lap would be understandable.

    But what they elected to do was ludicrously unfair and I lost a lot of love for the “sport” because of it.

    1. @philipgb this is the right answer for me

  26. “On this occasion ‘the show’ took clearly priority over the sport.”
    100% Correct Keith. F1 now reduced to a circus being run by rsclowns.
    F1 has lost it’s lustre for too many genuine fans.
    Sold out to the LibFlix soap opera drama bs.
    WDC 2021 Totally & completely devalued.

    1. @wildbiker
      By ‘genuine fans’ of course you’re excluding all the ticket payers at the circuits who were roaring with excitement.
      The videos from proper fans at the circuit look incredible. No wonder F1 have gone to the middle east.

  27. I said a couple of races ago that my opinion of the race directors was at an all-time low. Unfortunately it has sunk even lower after this. At the risk of sounding overdramatic: If the FIA’s defence is simply that the race director can do what they like, that’ll be the end of my interest in F1. I realize there has always been a balance between the sport and the show but in Abu Dhabi they crossed a very important line. This is not just “the stewards made a call I disagree with” – most racing incidents are matters of opinion, after all – but selectively choosing not to enforce their own rules. I’m not suggesting a conspiracy to favour one team or driver over another, however; this is either incompetence or an artificial attempt to create last-lap excitement. If it’s the former, they can take steps to rectify their mistake. If it’s the latter, well, there’s probably no coming back from that for me. I can’t imagine myself continuing to watch and enjoy something with no sporting integrity. (Cue the “goodbye” comments.)

    1. They could amend the rules like this

      Article x. Safety Car
      The race director has total freedom to use the safety car in any way he likes. Better say Hi to him every now and then.

    2. @estesark F1 has had these controversies for decades. It is still the show Ecclestone built, and it has worked very well for all parties involved. If all the viewing public wanted to see was good competitive racing they have much better options than F1, especially in the V6 era. So part of the appeal is the drama, the characters and the soap opera aspect to it all.

      F1 officials have looked the other way countless times to preserve or improve the championship battle. From annulling technical disqualifications to ignoring blatant driving conduct offenses, allowing teams to keep points earned with illegal cars and handing out penalties where previous incidents weren’t even investigated.

      Yesterday’s handling of the situation was bad, but neither new nor part of a plot to make Verstappen the champion. Masi is in over his head, has to juggle too many affairs, and messed things up in his attempt to do what F1 teams and drivers are always saying they want the FIA to do: let them race.

      1. Yesterday’s handling of the situation was bad, but neither new nor part of a plot to make Verstappen the champion.

        I agree it wasn’t part of a plot or conspiracy, and also that these kind of things are not new, but I have never seen as blatant or consequential an action from a race director before.

        1. Thank you, this is the point I was trying to make.

  28. Alonso made the point that the lapped cars should have been allowed to unlap themselves sooner. So, the problem boils down to: Masi left it too late to do the completely right thing (let the unlapped cars go past and then green-flag the final lap). If Masi had actually done the right thing at the right time, Max and Lewis would have been released for the final lap under the green flag, with no cars between them… which is exactly what happened. The violation of regulations were that (a) it was decided a lap too late (but still plenty early enough for Lewis to try his best to control the restart), and (b) lapped cars were still present further down the field where they shouldn’t be.

    So, yes, Masi messed up, and created a huge controversy, by not applying the rules consistently. But if he HAD done the right thing, Max would almost certainly still be champion. And if people would accept that, all of the heat goes out of the debate!

    1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
      13th December 2021, 17:58

      This is a very reasonably put! +1

      1. At what point was the track clear for the unlapping to start?

        1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
          13th December 2021, 19:18

          It is a bit unclear. I have heard (unable to determine how true that is) that when the SC crossed the start finish, the track was considered “clear” giving an entire lap for a restart. So the issue is that the un-lapping started sometime on the long straight (end of sector 1).

          Just to note @romtrain, I agree that un-lapping should not take place until the hazard is clear. I don’t believe the original comment above suggests its okay to release the cars prior to the hazard being cleared.

    2. The unlapping should only start AFTER the hazard is cleared (e.g. no more people/vehicles on track, no debris in a dangerous position). And the rules then afford one more lap under the safety car.

      So, no – if the rules would have not been breached, then Max would not be champion (as there would not have been another lap remaining).

      1. @romtrain
        ‘breeched’ . In a safety situation the race director does the best for safety, not wording in a book. And has that power.

    3. Yeah indeed I think you’re right. I suspect Masi thought let’s not waste any time waiting for the cars to unlap themselves, then once he realised that would not give a showdown and Horner got in his ear, he then did but only a select number of cars to speed up the process. Absolutely bizarre and again highlights how utterly out of his depth he is. I have thought this way since the Mugello 2020 restart farce.

      1. Yeah and this come only a week after Saudi Arabia where he was bargaining with Red Bull over starting positions, seemingly unaware that Ocon was second. I think people are partly right to worry about attempts to artificially spice things up for “the show.” But the bigger problem seems to be that he just isn’t up to the job, and it feels increasingly that teams and drivers have lost confidence in the decision making.

        I don’t think what happened yesterday was as bad as some people make out in terms of undermining sporting fairness, but it still fits into a pattern of horrendously incompetent stewarding and race direction. As Horner put it we really do miss Charlie Whiting.

    4. But if he HAD done the right thing, Max would almost certainly still be champion.

      Unlapping the cars earlier wasn’t possible because the safety car was still out for the reason it had been deployed. Therefore, the actual right thing as per the written rules would have been to let all the lapped cars unlap themselves at the time they unlapped just the ones that were inconveniently between Max and Lewis and then bring in the safety car at the end of the next lap. So how would Max have almost certainly been champion in that scenario?

    5. @manalive I think that was the real sequence of things. First call the FIA decided it was not fair for Hamilton to release the lapped cars than realized it was not according the rules (when RB reminded Masi). Second call FIA made the call to let only part of the cars unlap.
      The Big question is when was the track clear for the normal procedure to start. Looking back at the onboard of Hamilton he is already told at 1:35 by his engineer that lapped cars are allowed to overtake then shortly after he gets the message that they are not allowed. 3 minutes later the cars are allowed to unlap.
      But devastating for Lewis and Merc they dominated this race and deserved the win. Still I don’t buy the conspiracy theories about the FIA and Masi. This is how the race unfolded and this time luck was with Max

    6. Whilst I understand your perspective, I have to disagree here.

      Your point (a) is not a violation of regulations. Sure, we can argue exactly when it would have been safe to let cars unlap themselves, but not doing it one lap earlier isn’t a violation. The reality is Masi initially determined there wouldn’t be enough time and issued the “no overtaking” order.

      The only violation comes when he then realises that initial order won’t allow 2nd place to be directly behind 1st place for the final lap, and maybe he should reverse the call so as to get a good final lap race. By this point, the only way he can do allow just 5 cars to unlap and ignore (a) the rest of the lapped cars and (b) the requirement for the SC to come in one lap later. Doing that seems to violate the explicit rule that only allows for no cars to unlap or all cars to unlap.

      Only an actual rule violation can be questioned in this circumstance. The judgement call that came before it was within his discretion.

      1. Hi @simon999 I wasn’t refering to regulations (I’m not a Lawyer). Trying to reconstruct or understand why the FIA/Masi made those decisions. Why was that first decision made to leave the cars in place ? Lack of time and a need to race? or because they felt it would be more fair to Lewis or maybe an other reason I don’t really understand. Lapped cars are allowed to overtake and I don’t think it would have taken that much more time to let them all go.

        But I agree it is clear for everybody that this wasn’t the normal SC procedure. The FIA failed like they have done the whole year. Not sure if this is completely Masi’s fault but I guess he is responsible.

        1. Lack of time, it is old school F1 to leave unlapped cars where they are when the safety car occurs and that would of allowed a 1 lap race. They don’t do that now with the safety car , but it is still in the rules. The issue was the safety car is there to protect the marshals and others on track. No other consideration, until the track is clear, all marshals back to their posts ready for another incident can the racing director think about starting the race. Just because drivers say the track is clear there are other procedures occurring out of view.
          Maybe all the drivers and senior team staff need to take marshals and clerk of the course training to help them understand what happens.
          I felt for myself becoming a referee as well as playing helped me understand the rules better. It is amazing how many top sports persons do not fully understand the rules they compete under.

    7. Manalive Alonso was deliberately being ambiguous gaslighting the audience at home who listened over the radio, if you listened to what he said earlier when cars was told to not unlap before he got the order to get out of max’s way he implied that he thought the race would end under yellows(or restart with lapped cars in place) and made a sarcastic laugh as it would hand lewis the title, he clearly wanted max to win and wanted to get out his way so max had a clear shot at attacking Lewis at the restart.
      He was fully aware that race control cannot release lapped cars when there are workers on a live track because cars will be unlapping at full speed putting track workers safety at risk which goes against the point of a sc in the first place.

      regarding the joke of a finish to the last race masi or someone at race control was clearly out of their depth and panicked when they realized all standard restart procedures would render Lewis the winner and they wanted a grandstand finish regardless of standard protocol or legality. The actions leading up to the restart is where masi lands in hot water and gives Mercedes the strongest argument going into an appeal.

      Race control CANNOT make on-the-fly rulings based on who it might benefit most and to increase the spectacle of the sport for a netflix series..the application of the rules should be blind, without bias and not favor or discriminate against any driver.

      WHY did masi avoid exhausting every standard protocol restart opportunity? In my honest opinion he conspired to meddle in the race artificially and made up on the fly new last minute restart rules to give one driver (max) the best chance to win.

      Here are some arguments why i think masi and/or race control avoided every other logical option to have a fair end to the race.

      1: why not just let ALL cars unlap themselves? Masi vetoed this because he couldn’t release cars earlier as Latifis car was not clear of the live track and there was still track workers clearing debris so obviously you cant have cars diving full spend meters away from them. When the track was clear there was not enough time to have one green lap if all cars unlapped themselves Giving Lewis the win. This if why masi deliberately did not choose this option Just to note if this was any other race it would finish under yellows…

      2: If because of the potential outcome of ‘1:’ why not just leave all lapped cars in place for a last lap sprint? Masi didn’t want to do this either not for logistical reasons but because it does not benefit one driver (max) if the race restarted with only one green lap remaining. Lewis would just (legally) back the pack up for the restart and sprint early to start the last and most likely win the race. Max is forbidden from overtaking lapped cars when the race restarts until he crosses the line. the natural concertina effect and number of cars in between him and Lewis would cost him around 4-6 seconds going into the first hairpin..

      3: why not just red flag like Baku and have a fair sprint for the title? imo Masi didn’t do this either because Lewis would get a ‘free’ tyre change and would be a favorite to win starting first.

      This is why in my opinion masi created the unique never seen before new rules at the last minute to start the last lap artificially moving the cars in front of max out of the way moving max direct behind Lewis who was on ancient hards to his new softs because it would give max a 95% chance of winning.

      I hope Mercedes do appeal and would be stupid not to after witnessing to farcical end to this race because with discovery and the extra unseen data and testimonies available they have a strong case.

  29. Why bother to explicitly state in the regulations that the race is meant to restart the lap after the last lapped car unlaps itself, unless unsafe to do so, if the way the rule is applied is the race can start on the same lap the last lapped car unlaps itself unless unsafe to do so? If what happened on Sunday was intended to be allowed, the rules would just have stated that after the last car unlaps itself, the race starts whenever the race director deems it safe to do so. If its worth starting straight away to get some racing on the last lap, you should do it on lap 10 to get an extra lap of racing too.

    It seems to me the over-riding authority article was intended to allow the race director flexibility to deal with any unforeseen safety issue, not to spice up the show by ignoring a rule that was put in there to make things safer. If that was how that regulation was meant to be used, there would be no safety car regulations, other than to state how drivers are meant to behave behind the safety car, and that the race director can do whatever he likes.

    Given the strategy is based on the rules as written, one driver was just handed a massive lucky break. The last lap wasn’t a fair fight, not just because of the tyre advantage of Max, but because Mercedes couldn’t have made a strategy decision knowing how the rules would be applied. If the rules had been followed, I could accept that Max just got super lucky and Mercedes made the wrong call. It’s not “going racing” if the racing is happening under regulations that didn’t exist at the start of the race. Better for the racing to have been determined by the previous 50-odd laps and the safety car rules understood at the start of the race.

  30. Strongly disagree that braking the rules and thereby deciding the championship is a good decision. Its a disgrace to the sports, and I strongly hope Merc will fight this through and win.

    Race-control should not be allowed to decide a WDC against the rules. And of course the acting people should be held responsible for their doing.

    BTW: I am curious, what RB was up to with Perez. It seems like a defect was planned (maybe not enough fuel), but they didnt need to play that card cause of the Latifi accident.

    1. @romtrain It was reported that Red Bull feared Pérez’ engine expiring on track would prolong the safety car period.

      1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
        13th December 2021, 19:19

        heard the same thing. is it true? Only RBR knows!

      2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        13th December 2021, 20:49

        @cashnotclass how would Red Bull know his engine would expire? Engines almost never show signs of expiring before they do.

        1. @freelittlebirds
          They don’t but when a dozen sensors are not at nominal, it’s a good idea.

        2. It seems to me like that was plan c. Start Perez on less fuel, lighter for the scrap he had with lewis early on, and then as a last straw, have him stop on track short of the race end for a safety car, having made sure Max was on fresher tires. The trouble is even Max’s fresher tires from the earlier SC, could close the gap to Lewis

      3. I’d rather believe they paid Masi, than they are honest here. But yeah, only they know. For me the result was cheated.

        1. @romtrain
          Paid Masi not to make Lewis give back on lap 1.
          Paid Masi to get Checo to own Lewis for a lap?
          Paid Masi to make Merc frightened of pitting Lewis for the best tyres?

          Paid Masi to force Lewis onto amateur mistakes earlier in the season?

  31. Maybe F1 can learn a few things from the aviation industry. When pilots don’t implement the rules, are not fully conversant with (or follow) procedures or process, and fail to employ a sterile flight deck policy, accidents happen. Masi needs to delegate in-race protests so he can focus on being the race director. He should be the escalation point, not the sounding board.

    1. @shakey66
      Yes! I was always surprised by how easily the teams can get into his ear. I mean he’s the race director not some sort of referee or steward

      1. Exactly. There has to be some officials who are communicating with the team bosses and only transfers to Masi what is relevant in terms of safety.
        So he couldn’t be bothered by all the rest.

        (Sorry for mistakingly reporting your comment)

  32. Did race control make the correct decision in tearing up FIA’s own regulations, using the bits as confetti and going into Netflix party mode?
    Err, no.

    1. @david-br

      On the contrary. Netflix owner is a woke B LM Hamilton fan.
      If anything Masi learnt at the last minute the whole thing had been fixed in Lewis’s favour, then made a correction.

  33. Agree with the point the lobbying by the teams needs to end.

    Next up – follow the rules and give stewards strong examples of when the rules apply (use real situations)

    Last – if possible finish the race under green conditions, if the SC is going to require more than 5 laps then red flag the race.

  34. I don’t think it’s possible to break down the scenario that unfolded to a single correct or incorrect decision. I’d say the correct and fair outcome for the championship protagonists was reached — insofar as an incredibly fortunate/unfortunate safety car can be considered “fair” — but through incorrect and improvised procedures. Removing lapped cars is precisely the outcome the rules are intended to achieve (for better or worse). And judging from the radio messages that have been released, Mercedes fully expected Verstappen to restart right behind Hamilton when they decided not to box. So I haven’t seen any evidence yet that this unfairly influenced the championship fight. (The midfield, of course, is another matter.)

    I’m also not so sure that a red flag was such an obvious alternative. The amount of debris at Baku and the risk of a puncture made it understandable. Here, there were no safety grounds for a red flag. If Masi had thrown one, he would have been accused of favouritism towards Red Bull for nullifying the tyre advantage that they had gambled on and fairly won. If F1 insists on allowing work on cars during red flags on safety grounds, perhaps there should be a distinction between conventional red flags and “competition reds”. So if a red flag is thrown at the end of a race not on safety grounds but to ensure a green flag finish, competitors would not be allowed to change tyres.

    1. * That should be “favouritsm towards Mercedes,” of course, for nullifying Red Bull’s tyre advantage. Sigh…

      1. He should simply have followed the rules and ended the race under safety car. I really dont see what the fuss is about on this.. sure it would have been anticlimactic but then the race was virtually over, since Max stode no chance of closing the gap to lewis. The world would have agreed with that as a logical conclusion the the race. It would have been a fitting end to a close championship.

        Not this farce which makes a joke of F1.

        [Another definition of sport is something you can put a fair bet on. I don’t anyone seeing this spectacle would ever in their right mind ever want to put a bet on a sport where the outcome can be flipped on its head like this. ]

        F1 is now a billion dollar Joke.

        1. I’m fairly sure that protests will be lodged with the police for match fixing from those who have placed massive bets and lost out due to the FIA ignoring their own rules. From my understanding, there would be a strong case, even if this was done for “the show”.

  35. There wasn’t a singular decision, so I went with ‘Neither agree nor disagree’. The decision to put the safety car in place was unfortunate, but necessary due to both the amount of debris and the lackluster attitude F1 drivers have (a problem created by not penalizing them; but even a series usually quite good about yellow flags like the WEC had a rather bad accident at Le Mans because some drivers just don’t care about flags). Nevertheless, safety cars are inherently unfair because they take away the legitimately gained gaps between drivers, and in F1 they, for no reason at all, give lapped cars an effective free +90 second time bonus.

    The decision to not allow cars to unlap themselves was good because it would needlessly drag out the safety car period during the final stages of the race. However, allowing the cars to unlap themselves sooner would have also been understandable as this has become the norm in F1 even during relatively short safety car periods. It’s easy to see who would favour either option, but in this case the FIA could have gone either way.

    The decision to allow only those cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to unlap themselves is, for lack of a better word, absurd. I don’t think there is any precedence for this, and it’s totally understandable that Hamilton and Mercedes feel very aggrieved about this.

    Calling the safety car in during the same lap as the unlapping takes place seems fine, as they’re two situations governed by different parts of the rule book (and IIRC this also happened in Azerbaijan). Once the unlapped cars are out of the direct range of the lead driver it should be fine to restart the race. Ending the safety car is always best done as soon as possible as nobody buys tickets to see cars cruising around behind the safety car.

    So in short; everything aside from allowing only a few cars to unlap themselves seems fine. But that should never happen again. If Mercedes going through with their appeal achieves that, it’ll have made a positive contribution.

    As an aside, agree with the comment that team principals should not have an open line of communication with the race director. One way communication from race control to the teams is all F1 needs.

  36. Easy choice, strongly disagree.

  37. I think people need to reminded that the 5 x lapped cars between Max and lewis existed because Max pitted for new tyres and put them there.

    So what has happened is Massi after the call from Horner has basically said, here let me remove the obstacles you created for yourselves so you can go win the championship.

    Redbull created the problem and then cried foul wanting the problem removed asap. had they stayed out on the hard tyres Massi could have started this race sooner and we could have had a proper couple of laps racing shootout instead of this absolute mess we got.

    1. Good call, I completely missed this one!!!

      I thought they were legitimately back markers. I hadn’t realised max Created that obsticle by piting. If true, this would make the Masi decision even worst.

  38. I have the same opinion now as I did over a year ago. Masi is just not up to the job. Never has been. Never will be. He started losing the room at Brazil. The way he handled both SA and AD just confirmed it. But he is a useful idiot that serves a purpose for Liberty and those who profit from the show.
    As a Hamilton fan I don’t care whether Ham has 7 or 9 WDCs Or a 100, 110, 120 wins and poles. And given Masi’s esoteric decision making process without any recourse to the rule book that has affected results in the past I have been enjoying F1 just for the on track racing. This year a number of races and now a WDC has been decided by his odd interpretations. That could have been disastrous for the sport.
    Thankfully this year both drivers deserved it, so his actions over the season can be swept under the carpet by the FIA, Liberty and the compliant F1 press.

  39. Either red flag or or leave the back markers. Lewis had to get by them on track. Who knows, Max may well have got past them and then Lewis. The story would then be all about how Mercedes messed up Lewis’ strategy and Max’ come from nowhere win against the odds. If Lewis held on, the story would be all about how lucky he was to survive! Both much more positive than what seemed to be a contrived scenario where Lewis had no chance after dominating the race. Largely down to Mercedes strategy, granted, but it didn’t look that way.

  40. I think race control did about the best job they could in a difficult set of circumstances. With so few laps to go, a clear track and lapped traffic in the way of the title contenders, there were few “good” options. The one thing that could have been done better was to allow all of the lapped cars to overtake, but given how little time was left, if it was a choice between what ultimately occurred and no restart at all, I’d take the former every time. Insofar as there is a conflict between “the sport” and “the show” (and I don’t believe they are mutually exclusive), the right balance was struck.

    Gripes of “bUt TeH rUlEz” are a red herring. The procedures necessarily have a lot of flexibility in them (hence the race director’s “overriding authority” to handle safety car matters). It’s unlikely the drafters of the regulations foresaw a situation like yesterday’s occurring, but that’s why you have the flexibility in the first place.

    Prior to the race, everyone was saying they wanted to see the championship settled on the race track – and it was. Finishing under yellow or with a bunch of lapped cars in the way of the two title contenders would have been a cheap, unsatisfying way to end, but the way it unfolded meant that this thrilling season got the climax it deserved.

    I do agree however that the lobbying of race control by the teams needs to end. That said, it is not new – it is nearly 40 years since Alain Prost attempted (successfully) to get the Monaco GP red-flagged when his rivals were closing in, and over a decade since Sebastian Vettel attempted (unsuccessfully) to get the same service in Korea.

    1. It’s unlikely the drafters of the regulations foresaw a situation like yesterday’s occurring, but that’s why you have the flexibility in the first place.

      The drafters of the regulations couldn’t foresee a situation where the SC is needed near the end of the race? Of course they could and it has happened several times before without problems.

      1. I think OP means specifically that the drafters of the rule on letting backmarkers unlap themselves — which was recently reintroduced — didn’t foresee the situation where the track would be clear with under two laps left, with enough time to safely let at least some cars unlap and restart the race but not enough time to follow the procedure they outlined (safety car in at the end of the following lap).

        I think they probably did foresee that situation, but felt it didn’t matter because in previous seasons, a race without enough laps left to allow the safety car procedures to be followed would simply end under safety car. I think it might be more accurate to say that the drafters of the regulations failed to foresee a world in which the way the sport and the global media environment evolved would make ending a championship-deciding duel under safety car untenable to those who run F1.

    2. @red-andy

      Gripes of “bUt TeH rUlEz” are a red herring. The procedures necessarily have a lot of flexibility in them (hence the race director’s “overriding authority” to handle safety car matters). It’s unlikely the drafters of the regulations foresaw a situation like yesterday’s occurring, but that’s why you have the flexibility in the first place.

      I think this is a good point, and I agree with it, to an extent. While many series do give the race director a wide latitude on decisions made with the intent of ending a race under green, F1 hasn’t historically been one of them. I really am not sure that the “overriding authority” safety car clause was meant for this kind of flexibility. In context, it seems more intended to clarify who can override whom in matters regarding over the safety car, not that the race director can override the rules.

      That’s not to say that Masi’s argument wouldn’t stand up in a court of law—it very well could. But it’s a bit of a grey area to me, and not as clearly written as in other series’ rulebooks that list procedures with the explicit caveat that the race director can modify or abandon them at their discretion.

      I think the best move going forward would be to give the race director another option in the regulations to quickly remove lapped cars from the frontrunners by having them simply drop to the back of the field, and then explicitly say the race can restart at the race director’s discretion (not on the following lap).

      1. I find that the least satisfying option. The more flexibility you give officials, the less consistency you will get and the more open to criticism decisions become.

        For safety reasons, I agree that the race director needs to be given some flexibility. If a situation would be unsafe to handle under the procedures written, they need to be able to legally handle it. However, as much of the rulebook should be black and white as possible. If there is a procedure, it must be followed. If there is a limit, it must be adhered to.

        The kind of flexibility you suggest would be like getting rid of the safety car speed limit and just making a rule that the cars must drive at a safe speed. This would lead to cars being penalised when they thought they were driving at a safe speed, and others not being penalised then others think they were being unsafe. Having a fixed, defined limit makes it impossible to argue with.

        1. Sorry, just re-read this. I meant pit lane speed limit, not safety car speed limit.

  41. If the “For” section is the best you can come up with I “Strongly Disagree”. Race Control can not be determined to finish the race under green flag conditions. It must be determined to run the race following the rules. That is their job. If the accident was on 57th lap would he run the race without a SC even though it was unsafe to race on the track because he was determined to finish the title deciding race under green flag conditions? And also what wheel to wheel racing? I didnt see that? Verstappen easily overtook Hamilton and that is it. The gap at the end of that single lap was 2.5 sec, he was that faster. Plus the race until that moment wasnt an enormous disappoinment for the large audience (if the hardcore Verstappen fans are the majority of audience), it was already nervous enough to wait if MV could catch LH and it was fun.

    And that MV having to clear 5 cars before having a go at LH argument, it was already what he had to do before SC. It wasnt like those 5 cars came in between them because of the SC.

  42. Red Andy … I was getting ramped up to put in my $00.02 … but you did it for me. The major deal is that the “clarsk” had to do all this in REAL TIME. Like, right now … not manana, later, look at the tapes. A really thankless job .. no matter what they decide, someone in the peanut gallery will squawk. Would Toto bellyache in Lewis had successfully fended off the Max attack? I think not. The race got erased, for a time, of the antiseptic-ness of the FIA. Like the fist fights a la Senna and Eddie. Or the draconian rulings of Jean-Marie Balestre. (FWIW, some posters sound as if their dream job would a traffic cop … checking for improper placing of plate tags … )

  43. Ros Brawn for race director. He has all the right qualities.

  44. 100% nope

    FIA race director Michael Masi had a very clear decision once the wreckage of Latifi’s William had been cleared from the track. He could call in the safety car and let the race restart with Hamilton in the lead and Verstappen behind the 4 cars that he cannot pass until he crosses the line to start the last lap. Or, he could tell all lapped cars to pass the safety car and when they all re-joined close to the back of the snake , call the safety car in and let the race resume. Of course that would have taken so long, the race would have been over and Hamilton the winner.
    Masi did neither because he panicked seeing the above would mean lewis would win and made up his own rules to artificially put max behind Lewis .

    Masi’s made up new rules screwed over drivers like Carlos Sainz. What about not allowing Sainz to rightfully fight for a victory or challenge Max and only removing the cars between Max and Lewis is a blatant manipulation of the result. What is at stake should not determine the outcome of a decision. If the championship was already decided that race would 100% of ended under the safety car. That is why it is a criminal decision.

    Mercedes should appeal and go all the way to court because we cant have fake manipulated WWE style F1 races catering for the newer drive to survive zoomer demographic. Masi was incompetent at best and corrupt at worst with the handing of the end of this race.
    Daimler will look weak and spineless if they do not contest a clear meddling and abuse of FIA protocol plus not appealing sends a message to liberty media/FOM that manipulating races on the fly is accepted.

    If Lewis was dq from brazil quali due his rear wing slot gap being 0.2mm too big because of ThE RuLeS i see no loss of face by Daimler and Toto
    Wolff challenging the result.

    1. oh, what a soft spot you have for Carlos lately. Sorry but is sounds sooooo totally fake

  45. Out of curiosity, where they were on the track when they released everyone from Lewis to Max, was there time to release all 8 cars not on the lead lap? That way Race Control could presumably got the showdown they wanted and it’d be hard for Mercedes to argue against it. If they could have got them all through Lewis and Max would probably have had Schumachers rear wing ahead of them, but so long as he was 100m up the road he wouldn’t have been in the way. Or was it that tight on the timing?

    1. @bernasaurus There was not enough time/laps to let all the cars unlap and not get in the way after the hazard was cleared, if all cars attempted to pass it would also trigger the sc (Lewis being 1st needs space behind sc to back the pack up for the restart and there wasn’t enough time or space to start the last racing lap if a million cars are unlapping themselves) to come in the NEXT lap thus give lewis the win. this is why masi invented the “some cars can pass some cant” rule.

      If the race restarted with all lapped cars left in the pack unlapped, lewis could sprint early to start the last lap whilst max is still behind the multiple lapped cars as he cant overtake them until he crosses the line to start the last lap. This would cost him around 4-6 seconds and Lewis would be safe to win the race.


      Instead of using standard protocol masi panicked seeing the laps run out and that Lewis would win by default so he meddled unlawfully inventing new rules to give max the best possible chance of winning.

    2. They were released in the new banked left-hand corner (turn 9 I believe).

      I do not know if they could have make it (timewise), however that would only address one of the two points protested by Mercedes (the second being that once lapped cars are let through, SC will go in at the end of the following lap).

      It is also possible that the call “Safety car in this lap” has to be made before leading car reaches a certain point on the racetrack. I remember last year in Muggello that SC went in late and because of that leading car decided to go green only at the latest possible mark leading to that infamous crash.

      To me, it seems the race directorate simply ran out of time for “the show” – recovering of the car took long and suddenly there was not enough time to both let lapped cars through, wait a lap & sent SC in. So they simply bipassed the regulations regarding the use of SC to make it happen.

  46. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
    13th December 2021, 20:38

    The championship is tainted now, through no fault of the drivers, both of whom were exemplary. If it stays with Verstappen it will be a hollow victory manufactured by the FIA breaking its own rules. If it eventually goes to Hamilton after a legal wrangle it will mean nothing. Well done FIA, you ruined this season.

    1. COTD.. agree completely. no one should be crowned this year.. put masi’s name and phone number on the trophy for 2021 and let him field calls for the rest of his life by confused netflix fans

  47. Strongly disagree and judging by the Twitter storm Jean Todts congratulations created, so do most of the F1 fans outside of Holland disagree too. Enough of the its just the British bias please.
    FAI is to blame for this, no one else.

  48. In my eyes, the ‘correct’ decision, in line with the precedent set this year, would have been to red-flag it. Agree or disagree with this policy, but that’s how late-race safety cars have been handled as of late. I imagine Masi didn’t want to do that because it would have exposed him to similar criticism as he is receiving now, but failed to realize in time that in deciding against a red flag, he had backed himself into a corner. From that point, he tried to maximize the number of green flag laps… and here we are. People make mistakes when they are under pressure.

  49. I’ve gone into details on my opions on this on another post, so I won’t repeat, except to say I fall into the ‘strongly disagree’ camp. I feel as though the race director deviated from the normal procedures specifically to alter the competitive balance of the race – not to remove an advantage which had been unfairly gained but rather to remove a disadvantage for one competitor which had come about through the natural flow of the race. This is not in the remit of the race director and runs counter to the principle of fair competition. It should never have happened and Mercedes have every right to appeal and challenge this in court if necessary.

    That said….

    …I don’t see what the remedy is here. What happened was wrong, but it happened. You can’t replace the result of the race which did happen with the one that happened in your imagination. I don’t see that it’s the role of the court to decide how the race ‘should’ have turned out if the ‘correct’ procedures were followed. Was it likely that Hamilton would have won the race in the event that the lapped cars weren’t removed? Very likely – but not guaranteed. Was it likely that Hamilton would have won the race if it had remained under the safety car until the end? Almost certain – but still not guaranteed.

    The fact is that Hamilton did not win, didn’t cross the line first. Verstappen did. Verstappen drove fairly, did not break any rules, so why should he be stripped of his championship so that it can be gifted to Hamilton? Because we think that Hamilton should have won? Where is the fairness in that judgement? Who is to say that Hamilton wouldn’t have made a mistake, suffered a puncture, or been struck by a mechanical failure? Unlikely maybe, but how many races and championships have turned upon such unlikely outcomes?

    The race should never have been managed this way, and I think the FIA need to acknowledge and address this urgently, otherwise the sport itself will be dragged hopelessly into disrepute. But this is not the fault of Red Bull or Verstappen, and they should not be punished for the actions of others which were outside their control.

    1. There is a precedent in that.

      Several races have been concluded prematurely by waving a chequered flag a lap earlier. The races de facto continued and drivers completed the remaining lap(s) but in the end official results were deduced from the order on the lap chequered flag was waived. I am not sure whether these error by race control actually required some corrections in the final results (I have a feeling on one instances some lower finishing positions were swapped – but I am not certain).

      There was also the case of Brasil 2003 GP, where initially race results were declared after a SC period following massive crash on the main straight. Later the results were adjusted to the last lap before the race stoppage. Initially Raikkonnen was declared winner & Fisichella second. They later swapped their places.

      So there is something to hold on in the past.

      1. @Keith
        Hello Keith,
        do you think Mercedec could try to put forward the case of Brasil 2003 as an analogy?

        Can you see some analogies between them yourself? I know that race was hectic and ended with a red flag. But the basic characteristics seem similar. One team lodged a protest to official results, which were eventually pushed back several laps.

    2. the more i think about it the more i believe the results from the Abu Dhabi race should be thrown out.. championship decided from the previous race in Saudi. results would remain much the same, max would still be champ but somehow i feel the whole mess would be slightly less dirty

  50. What? No, how is there even an article like this? Doesn’t matter who you support, this was a blatant rule break and is not remotely okay.

    I usually don’t like football analogies since I don’t like football but what Masi did was like giving the losing team 10 extra minutes and a penalty kick from a 2 meter distance.

    I’m happy Max won and that we finally have a new champion but this MUST be overturned by a court. What happened was the worst case scenario for F1 as a sport and can not be tolerated.

  51. I am definitely NOT a Hamilton fan, however I also disagree with the decision as it put the veracity of the outcome into doubt. Better to red-flag the race, sort the cars out and run the last 3-4 laps flat out as in Baku. The officiating this year has been inconsistent and haphazard to say the least. Moving forward, I think teams should be banned from lobbying the race director in any way and the team should get a 10sec penalty if they do. That said, I hope this is not taken to court and overturned which I think would be even worse than the FIA’s decision. Let it stand. Mercedes can doctor its wounds with the piles of cash from their 8th constructors championship and Hamilton can lay in his bed surrounded by his 7 driver’s championship trophies to nurse his scarred psyche. Congrats to both Max and Lewis for a great season from both.

    1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
      13th December 2021, 21:44

      – Inconsistent officiating all season: agreed +1
      – Ban team principles from lobbying: agreed +1
      – Hope court doesn’t over turn championship (doubt results will change): agreed +1
      – Funny last sentence: funny +2
      – Red flag: disagree -2: We can’t start watching motor racing abusing the red flag usage in the way its not intended. Race stoppages are not good for the sport and should be avoided as much as possible. The reason for the Baku red flag was the amount of debris scattered on that long fast run to T1 (two tire failures at high speed; stroll and max). There was a real safety concern that presented imminent danger to competitors. That was not the case here. I made a suggestion above (for fast tracking restarts with less than 10 laps remaining only) to have lapped car drive through the pit lane to then cycle back out behind all lead lap cars (no pit stops allowed). yes, they wont get their lap back but will allow competitors to be racing with their “group” (sorta speak). This will allow the lap cars to race each other for position and lead cars to fairly compete for position without the extra time needed for the un-lapping process to complete. This would provide Masi/Race Control an additional option that would be fairer. Teams have lobbied to have races finish under green flag conditions and Masi did the best he could to honor that with what was available per the rules. The rules limited the options and I think his intent was in the right place just not executed fairly for the entire field. So I hope this will be looked at and used as a learning moment.

      1. Davethechicken
        14th December 2021, 9:43

        The Baku red flag after Max crashed was bizarre. They could easily have brought the Sc and the pack through the pitlane and safely repaired barriers and cleared debris. The accident was on the straight parallel to the pitlane.
        This would have lead to a race finishing behind the Sc so seems the only reason for a red flag was to get racing at the end.

  52. As Brundle stated live on TV-

    If the lapped cars stay in the pack and can’t unlap themselves then there is time for a last racing lap. This would leave 5 cars between Versatppen and Hamilton.

    If the cars unlap themselves there would be no time left for the final race lap and the race would end under safety car conditions.

    He said this while Horner was on the phone to Masi pleading for another race lap,” just one lap Masi”.

    Brudel then said live on TV feed that ” Horner was arguing against his best interests because removing the lapped cars would end the race under SC conditions.

    Then Masi changed the rules as we all saw in the last lap and let just the five cars past and didn’t give them time to reach the back of the pack and didn’t give the SC it’s extra lap afterwards.

    So it was totally unfair ending to the race. The only outcome that should result is the race ends under safety car conditions and Hamilton is the championship winner. After the court case, the race should be officially ended at the lap 57 positions as that was the last positions held before Masi manipulated the race ending.

  53. Teams agreed they wanted the race finish under green flag conditions, which Masi wanted to respect, if possible, by essentially speeding up the usual yellow flag procedures as the track was already safe to race on and he had the authority as race director to do so.

    The severity of the accident didn’t warrant a red flag as nothing needed to be repaired. Irrespective of fairness, it just happened to play perfectly into Red Bull’s hands and in that sense they had the lucky draw of the straw this time around.

    While Masi’s execution of the rules was somewhat unprecedented, he did follow their purpose and therefor there was scope to prioritize the agreed upon desire of the teams to finish a race while actually racing (if it’s safe to do so) rather than technicalities that, in terms of safety, didn’t matter at that point.

    It’s unfortunate that it was unfair, but so you could argue is pitting for fresh tires during yellow flags or how Lewis had his car repaired under ‘lucky’ red flag conditions and finished p2 in Imola.

    Thus, in my opinion, Masi isn’t to blame, especially considering how little time he had to weigh his options. The rules are just often unfair and it doesn’t necessarily average out across a season, so perhaps there is room for improvement in this regard (even at the cost of the drama that naturally results from it).

    1. I see what you’re saying but the objective of completing the race under a green flag could have been achieved without deviating from normal procedure, by simply restarting the race without removing any of the lapped cars.

      1. @mazdachris the conspiracy is that masi did not want to do that because lewis would simply sprint to start the last lap and max would be held up by lapped traffic and cant overtake until he crosses the line, this would cost him 4-6 seconds and Lewis would just be out of reach and go on to win. Masi basically invented new rules exclusively for max to put him in the best position to win.

        Remember when race control said no cars will unlap themselves and the race will restart before at the last second masi changed his mind (probably realizing max wouldn’t win under this scenario) and invented new rules to only move traffic in front of max out of the way?
        imo masi done everything possible to meddle and give max the best chance to win under the sc.
        This is totally different to the imola red flag as that followed standard FIA protocol which lewis benefited from, if Mazepin benefited no one would care, and that is the problem because casuals like Joe briggs do not understand the rules and likes to cherry pick race situations where lewis ‘got lucky’ which the OTHER 19 cars in the same situation would be just as lucky under the same circumstances and receive equal treatment under the rules.
        Again correlating strawman arguments lewis benefited from has zero impact on the events at the end of this race as Masi invented new rules only for max out of thin air to magically move the cars in between him and lewis out of the way so he could have a clear run on lewis, so screw drivers like carlos sainz in 3rd as he obviously does not deserve equal treatment under the rules because he had to race with lapped cars infront of him(!)

        Maybe people can now understand why Mercedes are considering challenging to reverse race result.

        1. This ‘casual’ is enjoying sipping the salty tears from your tin foil hat.

      2. As Vettel said, perhaps Masi should’ve let them all pass straight away like other times. It seems unclear if that were possible or, if not, he did as much as he could within the time he had while allowing the race leaders to race without interference from backmarkers (as the unlapping rule is intended for).

        In that scenario Max would’ve still ended up right behind Lewis on new soft rubber and unlikely to have made a difference to the outcome. I’d love to read an interview at some point with Masi detailing his thought process at every stage and decision of this messy event.

    2. Lewis wasn’t just able to repair. He also used this rule to return to a lap. If not that Verstappen wouldn’t only need 6 place in Abu Dhabi to be a champion. But when it’s against them, the rule is suddenly bad. Well, if cancel restart in Abu Dhabi, then cancel restart in Imola as well.

    3. A clear article and well laid out, provided the arguments in a nutshell.
      All teams strategic decisions are based various inputs including on how an impartial referee acts within the rule book, especially in a sport as complicated as F1. In this particular case I would suggest overriding input.
      At the end of the day the race director is among other things is a referee and has to follow the rules, procedures and prescient’s of the F1 sporting code. We are not talking about a subjective decision, did that car do this, and did that car do that.
      We are talking about a procedure that is sent down in the FIA code and has been followed on numerous occasions. There are no grey areas in this, the only way the race restarts for racing laps if the lapped cars are left as they are. This is against current prescient’s as in recent years all the lapped cars unlap themselves and re-join onto the back of the safety car train and then the safety car comes in the following lap after the last car unlaps itself. Both scenarios are allowed within the rules, even a red flag is acceptable, but would be considered to be providing a show.
      Look at Horner’s face on the podium when he offered to shake Lewis’s hand, I will allow you to make your own conclusions. It is the side view from the left.
      The problem is the FIA is all powerful and due to the technical nature of the sport has many ways to make the teams lives very difficult in the future. As all referees in any sport will tell you, what happened in Abu Dhabi was against the rules and destroyed sporting integrity, the referee cannot make up decisions like that, otherwise it is no longer a sport. The current mess is quite clearly against the rules and cuts to the heart of F1’s current dilemma is it a sport or is it a show?
      Unfortunately it appears to be the latter.

      1. Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

        1. If the race director is allowed to just make up rules on the fly to make for a better show, I don’t think it’s anywhere near the middle…

  54. The question asked… “Do you agree race control handled the last-lap restart correctly?”

    My answer? I don’t agree. Simple as that.

  55. By the way, in 2020 Eifel GP at Nurburgring was very similar situation to yesterday. Mclaren car was left close to circuit and needed to be recovered. SC was deployed & lapped cars were only allowed through once the car has been cleared. Moreover SC period was prolonged so that the lapped cars were allowed to reach the back of the pack. The whole SC period lasted roughly 5-6 laps.

    Yesterday all was done so hastily just to give Verstappen a shot at victory. As if it was his misfortune that Latiffi only crashed with 5 laps to go.

  56. Racefans.uk at work again

  57. Spare a thought for Mercedes. They must be inconsolable.


    1. Toto’s hairstyle was unfortunate for an Austrian.

  58. I disagreed with them not letting cars overtake, and felt that this decision was unfairly benefiting Mercedes.

    I also disagreed with them then changing their mind and only letting the cars between Max and Lewis pass as this showed a clear manipulation of the race, regardless of the result.

    If they did not have time to clear away the car/debris and go through the usual process of letting cars overtake, then they should have red flagged the race immediately like they set a clear president for in Baku this season.

    This would have been the fairest solution.

    I however, do not agree with Keith that this is a bad rule that shouldnt have been introduced. Too often in the past we saw lapped cars getting in the way of on track battles during restarts and that had to stop.

    1. You seem to fotget that not allowing lapped cars to overtake benefits RB and only RB. Had rules not been broken, allowing lapped cars to overtake meant another lap of SC, meaning the race ends under SC with no chance for Max to overtake. Not allowing lapped cars to overtake was the only ‘legal’, shall we say, to have one last racing lap thus giving Max a chance to overtake.

  59. I’ve seen a number of people justifying the decision being wrong for reasons such as “Max was on new softs behind Lewis on 40 lap old hards – that’s totally unfair”. Worth pointing out that has nothing to do with anything. That situation can arise at any race by virtue of a safety car, and is luck of the draw.

    This incident is very narrow in scope, but the ramifications did flip the entire championship (through no fault of either driver or team involved, even if lobbying is distasteful). The rules seem fairly clear, and precedent is well established, that you either let all cars through to unlap (in which case SC waits one extra lap to come in) or none. That’s explicitly at the discretion of the race director. I’ve not seen a reading of the rules that has convinced me a hybrid approach is at the discretion of the race director (let some through, but not all). Relying on 15.3, which is clearly a catch-all, seems a poor defence when you consider there are explicit rules governing the unlapping of cars.

    The good thing to come out of such a farce, which has been building all season (and probably before it), is that it may force F1 to reform how it governs itself. It’s been very obvious for a while that rules are not consistently enforced or boundaries made clear to teams/drivers.

    1. Indeed. Mercedes have made this mistake so often in the past. Getting caught on a SC and not changing tyres. Theyve been at the top for so long now that they really don’t know how to be aggressive and grab a win. Had this incident happened 10 laps from the end instead of 5 and the correct procedure been followed, the result would have been the same.

      The last time this happened I think was Brazil 2019, when Lewis ended up punting Albon out from his maiden podium because he was lost on old tyres.

      1. I don´t see what Mercedes could have done strategically different with Hamilton in this race. The gap wasn´t sufficient in either of the two cases to hold track position & leaving track position to Verstappen was too risky. RB had better straightline speed & Verstappen had nothing in fight with Hamilton.

        Reb Bull really did not pull any masterstroke here. They just took advantage of available options that Mercedes simply did not have. Mercedes were trully lacking Bottas in Verstappen´s pit window – that is the only thing that would have made difference in both (V)SC periods.

        1. *had nothing to lose in fight with Hamilton

        2. Exactly. RBR could pit Max and keep track position, whereas had Merc pitted they would have lost track position.

          Had they done this at the VSC, it would have left Hamilton having to pass Max on track. Given that we all saw Max was unable to close the gap quick enough, and suspecting Mercs simulations showed this to be the case, this was a completely understandable call and the correct one at the time with all info available. Why risk having to pass on track if you can just cruise to the finish line? It would have been a massive, ridiculous gamble.

          For the SC, it was even more clearly the right call to stay out. There was no point where HAM could have pitted and stayed ahead of RBR, as they would always instruct Max to stay out if Lewis pitted. This would have put him second with a safety car out in the closing laps. If the race finished under the safety car, which there was a good chance of happening, he would have just thrown the championship away.

          The only questionable decision, for me, was to pit Hamilton so soon after Max. That was the ultra conservative option, but it gave away his tyre advantage from Qualifying and then left him suffering from getting stuck behind Perez. He still had the pace on the mediums, and probably would have for another 5 laps at least. I still think that was the wrong call, and could be seen as having lost Hamilton the race itself.

          1. @drmouse

            The last paragraph is very interesting to tackle.

            Yes I concur with you that Mercedes were conservative with simply copying Verstappen strategy – sort of “he pitted so lets pit & cover him with Lewis” (kind of a strategy that Ferrari used here back in 2010 against Webber). As Verstappen pitted Hamilton was gaining quite a lot on Perez lap by lap. The optimal/aggressive strategy would be to try to keep Verstappen out of Hamilton´s pit window & just wait until Perez was outside of it as well. That would mean retaining track position to both RB cars after first stops.

            Hamilton´s car clearly had pace advantage over the RBs, but I dont think it was still sufficient for such bold strategy. I dont think Hamilton on old mediums could have kept the necessary gap to Verstappen on new hards. I believe Verstappen´s pace after first stop was quick enough to force Hamilton to pit in few laps anyway (maybe 5 at max?) otherwise he would lost the virtual lead. Moreover if Hamilton pitted later than he did, the gap to both Verstappen & Perez would be lower – i.e. he would have caught Perez quite quickly with Verstappen being closer behind him and able to attack Hamilton as he struggled with Perez. Maybe Mercedes had that on their mind as well when deciding what to do.

            Finally, US GP showed what can happen if Red Bull with good straight line speed & Mercedes car vulnerable to running in dirty air pits too early & gains track position. That must have worried Mercedes the most, otherwise the hards were their favorite tyres – as they generally are in recent years. One curious thing, however was the decision to fit Hamilton with used hards, even though he reportedly had a brand new set as well. It is a bit weird they did not give him the fresh set, if they did not expect in default a two-stop race isnt it?

          2. @Kotrba I don’t disagree with your reasoning, and can understand why Merc did as they did. We don’t know how it would have played out, and they made the call they did, but I still think it’s worth questioning. I am in complete agreement over those in the SC periods given the information available at the time, even though with hindsight and had everything else played out the same, Hamilton would now be champion if they had pitted him under the SC.

  60. To all those calling for Masi’s head: be careful what you wish for. Whoever they replaced him with would be even more inexperienced. If you fire people as soon as they make a mistake, nobody ever learns anything. At least with Masi, the next time he has Wolff and Horner shouting in his ear, he’ll know that he’s already lived through the worst-case scenario.

    1. @aesto
      Wolff and Hamilton’s constant lobbying has been shameful. Lewis sunk to new lows lying that Checo was dangerous. Then at the end claimed the race was ‘fixed . When Lewis should have won this title ages ago had he always driven like Sunday.

    2. @aesto

      If you fire people as soon as they make a mistake, nobody ever learns anything

      This has been my view all year, in fact ever since he took over from Charlie (RIP). I’ve been giving him the benefit of the doubt and defending him.

      However, this is not his first mistake, just his biggest and most consequential. It’s like the new guy at work who has made mistakes over and over for his first few years, but relatively minor ones which have been easy to cover for, excuse and overlook. He then, 3 years in, makes one which costs the business a massive contract… Had it been his first, or even one of his first, it’s easy to say he can learn from his mistakes and move on. But looking at his history, you can’t justify giving him the benefit of the doubt anymore.

  61. Hello Keith,
    do you think Mercedec could try to put forward the case of Brasil 2003 as an analogy for their purpose?

    Can you see (any) analogy between them yourself? I know that race was hectic and ended with a red flag. But the basic characteristics seem similar. One team lodged a protest to official results, which were eventually pushed back several laps.

  62. Mercedes we lobbying against a red flag in Jeddah, so it would still be “selective” to have had it in Abu Dabi just to finish under green flags. Yes, it helped the show but that’s what F1 is about at the end of the day – it’s entertainment. Ultimately Masi has the authority to make these decisions, but hopefully in the future they can be done is a less confusing manner.

  63. Full disclosure, Max fan here, but I try to stay as objective as I possibly can be. I purposefully stayed away from the comment sections these past weeks but now I feel like I want to put my feelings down in writing.

    Although I wanted Max to win, this indeed felt like a hollow, unworthy end to a fantastic season, although perhaps symbolic. I felt gutted for Lewis for losing the title in this way, he fully deserved that race win. It felt like the decisions behind the SC were purposefully made to create more drama. I wonder if cars could have been allowed to unlap sooner and we still could have gotten a regular final lap. But the reversal and partial application of the rules seemed staged. This showed once again that Michael Masi is out of his depth. Although his job is difficult, especially this year, he clearly is not up to the task. He either needs more people around him or he should be removed from the position. There need to be clarifications on how racing should be conducted. It can’t be that difficult to get the drivers into one room, perhaps during testing, and show them clear examples of what is and what is not going to be allowed going forward, regardless of what happened this year. I sincerely hope they do that.

    With that said, I have gained a tremendous amount of respect for Lewis for how gracious he was in defeat. To lose the championship in this manner and still be able to congratulate Max and his dad right away was extremely magnanimous of him, he acted like a true champion, hats off. My heart goes out to Lewis and his supporters. Having cheered for Lewis in 2007 and Felipe in 2008, I feel your pain.

    In the grand scheme of things though, I think that both championships went into the right hands. Max hardly put a foot wrong all season long (barring Brazil and especially Saudi, which I would say was his low point, I was not happy with his driving whatsoever), but the rub of the green certainly was not going his way (a quick conservative calculation gives me 31-point swing in Lewis’ favor over the course of the season incl. the Abu Dhabi SC). Lewis still drove a great season, had a monumental finish and his campaign would have been championship-worthy any other year. Their highs were equally brilliant, but I think Max clearly edges ahead on their bad days, Lewis lost a fair number of points through his own doing while Max mainly through bad luck. I coincidentally expected Max to lose the championship in exactly this way prior to the season, which is what I think makes Max’ season so special. To go up against an incredible 7-time WC in an ever-so-slightly inferior car overall, have slightly inferior luck, and still come out on top makes this title monumental. Saudi aside, he produced a campaign for the ages. Sadly, this will never be talked about, everyone will probably only remember the controversial last lap of the season. I know there are Lewis’ fans who are willing to admit this, I appreciate you and I salute you.
    I think we can all agree that we should be grateful for the season F1 has given us, it was a hell of a ride.

    Feel free to agree or disagree, but regardless, I wish you all Happy Holidays!

    1. Absolutely, agree with that 31 or so points swing in favour of hamilton even including this SC, both championships went to who deserved them most, hamilton deserved this race but not silverstone for example.

      I voted disagree with how the fia handled it, probably a red flag would be more fair, but again they don’t pick flags based on the racing but on safety.

      1. Davethechicken
        14th December 2021, 9:49

        Except in Baku, after Max’s crash the Red flag was not for safety but to allow the race to finish under greens.
        After all the wreckage was on the pit straight and they could simply have taken the sc and cars down the pit lane (as they have countless times before)

    2. His job is stressful and not easy. But those rules, come on its 50 pages or so (without appendix). Every cop has to have more knowledge about the law than this. Its not rocket science, and a race director should have had a long period of study, and constant refreshment. I bet he gets paid enough, so it can be expected he is full commited to making a clean job. Imho what happened is a disgrace to the sports and not acceptable.

    3. Barath Raam B B
      14th December 2021, 4:22

      The most sensible comment I’ve heard. 👏

    4. I am more than happy to admit that Max is a worthy champion. As much as I dislike his “driving style”, he has been superb all year.

      I can’t agree that “we should be grateful for the season F1 has given us, it was a hell of a ride”. There has been some amazing driving, but the parts most vivid in my memory are the terrible calls by stewards and officials. I think there are plenty to go around, neither driver was more or less disadvantaged than the other, but it just takes the edge off. Then to finish with such a farce… I have been watching F1 since the early 90s, and avidly following since the early 2000s, but I have never seen such outrageous behaviour from any race official. It is, however, a fitting end to a season with such terrible officiating.

      I am really sad that this is what stands out to me, as other than that we have witnessed a classic season. I don’t believe I’ll ever be able to look back at it without it being tainted by this farce.

    5. @j-l a great comment, sounds very objective. As much as you can see things from the side of Lewis’ fans, I can empathise with you being a fan of Max, because (even if I too hated his driving in Brazil and Saudi) his mid season was truly amazing, and how he came across to be dealing with the pressure of his first F1 title fight was outstanding, Max definitely doesn’t deserve to have his championship win tarnished by the race director. Thank you again for your comments

  64. There must be match fixing criminal investigation!

  65. Shame that fans who understand the rules will more or less agree it was a wrong call, but Liberty will act according to their “Do you think it was a super dooper perfect decision and we should have more of these” poll, relying on quadrillions of social media consumers.

  66. Who, but who, can please take over from Mr. Masi. Please, but please, please, please…

    1. Coulthardt? Webber? Wurz? Palmer? Hulkenberg? Todt? Claire Williams? Idk, I can hardly think of anybody worse than Masi.

      1. I thought of Todt @romtrain
        Or maybe he has ideas.

        Charlie Whiting is the best model to use for the future.

  67. Can someone explain when the allowing lapped cars to pass before restart became part of the rule? And why is it there? If the race before the SC had lapped cars interspersed with cars on the lead lap, surely it makes more sense to allow the cars to restart in that order, effectively allowing the race to continue as it left off…

    1. They introduced the rules a good few years ago (I can’t remember the exact year). With all the cars bunched up as they are, back markers are more of an issue that under normal conditions. It was decided that letting them through would bring better racing for all: Those on the lead lap get a clear track to race on, but the back markers can also fight amongst themselves without having to dive out of the was for the front runners.

  68. Liberty Media: tearing up the rule book because they are just boring words anyway!

  69. There was a precedent where not all cars were allowed to unlap themselves. In Baku Mazepin was not allowed .

    If so, and nobody complained at the time, they sure can’t start now. I heard a few calls for consistency.

    Disclaimer: I didn’t check it myself.

  70. One of the aspects of this whole safety car thing that I find so troublesome is that the teams clearly get onto the radio to Masi in the belief that they can influence his decision and, on the basis of this weekend’s decisions at least, it would appear that they are right. It’s a slippery and unsporting slope and I agree wholeheartedly with the idea that teams should not be able to lobby whoever is in charge mid-race.

    On this occasion and for whatever reason Masi changed his mind about what was going on, but the result was neither fish nor flesh – either nobody unlaps themselves or everybody unlaps themselves – and left him wide open to charges of manipulating the result, whether that is what he intended or not. What if both Max and Lewis were a lap down and he allowed one of them to unlap but not the other? What about keeping things fair for the lapped cars who were racing among themselves? All in all it was a terrible outcome for a sport that self-proclaims to be the pinnacle of what it represents, but seems to be able to keep shooting itself in the foot.

  71. It’s really quite simple. Masi failed to follow two parts of Article 48.12 of the F1 Sporting Regulations on the use of the safety car. He decided to only let 5 cars unlap themselves, which is not a possibility envisaged by the rules. And then he ignored the rule that, after the last lapped car passes the safety car, the safety car must complete one more lap before the race restarts. The provisions the stewards cite do not overrule these provisions or give Masi the discretion to ignore them.

    Funnily enough, there’s a real split between seasoned fans of the sport and newcomers on what they feel aggrieved by. I think most of us F1 Fanatics (to use the old name!) are aggrieved by the failure to follow the detailed – but important – rules on how lapped cars should be dealt with. Most newcomers seem aghast that a safety car could wipe out Hamilton’s lead and create a situation where Max could make a “free” pit stop.

  72. What Michael Masi said himself?
    Back in October 2020 in the Eifel Grand Prix in Germany, McLaren’s Lando Norris had an issue which saw smoke and fire coming from his car – leading to Masi ordering a safety car and allowing it to stay out for a significant period of time.
    Speaking about that incident to Motorsport Weekly later, the Australian said: ”There’s a requirement in the sporting regulations to wave all (See? ALL!!!!!!!) the lapped cars past.
    “From that point, it was position six onwards that were still running [on the lead lap], so between 10 or 11 cars had to unlap themselves.
    “Therefore the safety car period was a bit longer than what we would have normally expected.”

    1. Its isn’t really debatable anymore that manipulation by race control happened and the end of the race was corrupt but if Mercedes and Toto don’t appeal and take it all the way they will be essentially enabling F1 officials to continue making up new rules when they wish on the fly. Its clear that masi made up non existent rules clearing lapped cars only out of max’s way(sainz in 3rd did not get the same treatment..) under sc so he could get a perfect run on Lewis thus artificial grandstand finish and footage for the next series of drive to survive. This is the sad reality of Liberty media Americanization of F1.

      Merc was screwed whatever they did. if Lewis pitted and lost track position to max I somehow don’t think there have been the same rush to resume for one last racing lap, or if they did try rb would just tell perez (his car was massively underfueled so he could be an effective blocker to lewis but he could never finish the race) to park the car in the middle of the track to extend the sc. Its hard for lewis to win when he is fighting the FIA and 2 red bulls on his own…

    2. @bulgarian ‘Any person still inside the building set for demolition must leave’
      That doesn’t mean some random percentage of ‘any people’ in the building must leave, it means everyone still in the building must leave. ‘Any’ is used as a conditional here, in the sense that there might not be anyone inside, but if there is…
      Same applies to use of ‘any’ in the F1 regulations: it means all drivers who have been lapped, presuming there are some, must unlap themselves, not a random selection chosen by the race director like he’s ordering from a sushi menu.

  73. Have I got this right? There were Marshall’s still present on track so lapped cars could not unlap themselves? There was only time to allow the cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to unlap themselves at the end so one more lap could be raced in a competition that everyone wants, unless they don’t want to lose, to see completed under competition. Good job Masi. Perfect. Whether all or some of the cars were allowed through was irrelevant in the end. Verstappen was going to be parked on Hamilton’s rear regardless. Hamilton was going to lose whether he had new rubber or not. Who had the quicker car over one lap in this race? Max did. Who pulled off the flawless last lap? Max Verstappen did and is the 2021 F1 WDC.

    1. Irrelevant are your lies.

    2. It would have been more of a spectacle if max had to negotiate those cars in front of him. Removing those cars definitely handed it to max, It was a stupid call. Max probably/maybe would have made it past Hamilton if those cars weren’t released and it would have been so much better to watch. Instead I’m left feeling that the stewards (and probably Jos and Horner) manipulated the result with selective rule bending.

    3. @stash Perhaps Carlos could have made an inspired lunge past both Lewis and Max if he had the lapped cars in front of him cleared like Max did. But Carlos was denied that opportunity because Max was given special treatment.

  74. I say best solution is a red flag like Baku.

    If Michael wanted a safety car either don’t let any lapped cars by or let all of them unlap themselves.

  75. I slightly agree. The mistake was that I reckon there was plenty of time to clear the track, and all cars should have been able to unlap themselves.

  76. Everyone making very valid points, its a shame its getting to this point though. Its great they got to finish the race in green flag conditions, not sure I agree or disagree with it. All I did when watching was laugh, I was so confused. Sums up the year to a degree.
    Masi has been in a pressure cooker situation and I’m not sure anyone else would handle it any better. Either way he was going to disappoint someone.

  77. I don’t really have a favorite driver/team in this battle. I like both Hamilton and Verstappen and I think both are worthy champions. Having said that, I think that the answer to this question is a big no. I won’t go into the legality argument as there may well be a “veto” for Masi baked deep into the rules. However, his veto, legal or not, has created a situation greatly favoring one driver against the other. Had this situation been created by following the standard procedures then fine, lucky Verstappen tough luck Hamilton. Likewise, had Masi used his “legal?” veto to create a fair and equal “show”, I think we will argue over it but eventually will understand his motives. That doesn’t take anything from Verstappens championship as he has nothing to do with Masi’s decision.

    In a final note, I think that broadcasting team to FIA radio is a mistake that I would like to see it gone next year.

  78. Possibly the worst officiating in any sport possible.
    To ignore/be ignorant of regulations for a final lap spectacular is gross negligence. As has been revealed throughout the season via the team to FIA radio channel that gets broadcast, Masi has been caught out not knowing the regulations to an absolute detail.
    To ignore/be ignorant of the other cars in the race and their battles is a dereliction of duty. What if Ferrari and McLaren were separated by a point or two and it was Norris and Sainz battling for a podium place but lapped cars weren’t moved out of the way?
    To manipulate that final lap which is totally devoid of sporting integrity in order for the show makes his position untenable and has caused enormous and possibly irrepairable damage to the integrity of F1.

  79. Not mentioned under “Against” is that Hamilton had to pass the lapped cars behind him under green flag conditions, Masi letting them unlap themselves meant Verstappen was handed an advantage by not needing to pass them at all.

    1. Ouch, it gets even worse. What a shambles. The sense of a fair sport went out the window with Masi’s decisions.

    2. To be fair, that’s the standard procedure with a safety car. It’s bad luck, just like the loss of an 11s lead, but it’s how it normally goes.

      The problem is the way Masi just invented new rules for this situation which significantly favoured one driver. Had he followed the rules, been able to get all lapped cars out of the way and get the race going following standard procedure, it would have been unlucky for Hamilton but fair and within the rules. This was neither.

  80. I feel like there are several different questions here.

    Was the situation WELL HANDLED? Clearly not. Masi is partly responsible for the decision, but Horner and Wolff share in the responsibility because they were distracting him.

    Was the situation LEGAL? In my opinion, yes. The sporting regulations give the Race Director “overriding authority regarding the use of the safety car”. A court is not going to overturn a Race Director’s decision based on regulations that are written to allow wide latitude to the Race Director.

    How should Mercedes REACT to this situation? Hamilton did exactly the right thing after the race by accepting his bad luck with grace and dignity. He had some good luck in 2008, and Massa accepted it with grace and dignity. That’s how people behave when they have integrity.

    What we have seen from Toto Wolff is very different behaviour. I really think Wolff should now let this go, and show some dignity of his own. Instead, we’re seeing a deliberate attempt to whip up a Twitterstorm that is likely to hound Masi out of his job – even though Wolff himself was distracting Masi and thereby making his job very difficult. That is quite shameful in my opinion.

    1. If you read the rule 15.3 of the ISC in full (and not only a part taken out of context to backup your version of the things) it clearly states the RD has “overriding authority” over the decisions of the clerk of the course and the stewards, concerning the “use” (meaning: the deployment or retrieval) of the safety car in an eventual SC situation.

      It doesn’t say anywhere in the rule the RD has “total control” to use the SC “at his own will”. And it also doesn’t give him any “overriding authority” over the sporting regulations and/or the safety car rules for that matter.

      1. I do think “overriding authority” concerning the “use” of the SC is enough to ensure that no court would overturn this decision. Yes it was a controversial decision, but courts will look for clear-cut breaches, not controversial uses of discretion. The rules should be made more precise to stop this kind of thing, granted.

        1. I think the rule is pretty clear.

          Otherwise, that would mean the RD has total control on “when” or how to use” the safety car at his own will at *any* situation of the race.

          “Leader has 30secs over P2 ? That can’t be! So I shall deploy a safety car just to make things more interesting, because I have total control on when and how to use it”.

          1. Total control of RD is the end of any sport, no just F1. F1 is not a sport anymore, it is a soap opera manipulated beyond any sense!

  81. Constantijn Blondel
    14th December 2021, 7:34

    I believe that it would do anyone who feels emotionally involved in the debate well to look up and try to understand something called “the SNAFU principle”.

    F1 hit a SNAFU.

    In my opinion, no I don’t think race control ( != “the” “FIA” != “Michael Masi” the person != Netflix != Liberty Media != [, etc.] ) got ‘it’ ‘right’. I also don’t think they got ‘it’ ‘wrong’. I think ‘they’ were mostly busy trying to make a lot of decisions in a ridculously short amount of time under an insane amount of pressure, which is what we ask them to do for us.

    There were tons of options, each of them too complex to oversee within the chaotic few minutes ‘they’ had to do so. Would I say that I think there were better options? Yes, I think so … throwing out a red flag being a particularly good one. Yes, I only realized that after (iirc) Brundle mentioned it in commentary … long after the time frame in which to make a decision had passed.

    But ‘they’ didn’t make that decision, they made another one, and even though it is within ‘our’ (or anyone’s) right to be unhappy with it, ‘we’ have to respect and accept it, and move one … just as much as ‘they’ should respect and accept that the choices they made are in need of some serious headscratching to see if there ware ways how this particular type of SNAFU can be avoided in the future.

    Polarizing things never made anything in the world better, ever (and yet, we all seem vitriolically in love with doing exactly that …)

    Cheers, Constantijn

    PS There’s also the words from Michael Masi on the phone with (was it) Christian Horner, which to me at least gave me the impression his head was quite occupied enough already with trying to move Latifi’s car out of the way.

    PSS My love and respect to Lewis – I’m with the not-overly-loud majority that believes both deserved the title. I also believe that the end result as it stands is a satisfactory conclusion to the season: I think Lewis had slightly more help from the car than Max had, and hence Merc -all of them, including Lewis- can raise the Constructor’s trophy with just as much pride as Max can raise the Driver’s trophy. I suggest each and every one involved in this debate in whatever way, collectively get over ourselves and move on.

    1. But ‘they’ didn’t make that decision, they made another one, and even though it is within ‘our’ (or anyone’s) right to be unhappy with it, ‘we’ have to respect and accept it, and move on

      Had I seen any contrition from Masi, any sign of recognition that this looks terrible, maybe. However, just “moving on” would leave him thinking he did exactly the right thing and nothing would change.

      If what he did was allowable within the rules without a “the race director can do whatever he wants, F you all” clause being played (which I still think is being massively misinterpreted and taken out of context), I’d be upset but would move on. If he had used any of the options available to him without an “F you” clause, or had followed a precedent set in the past, and Max had still won I’d be upset but would move on. He didn’t here. He made up a brand new rule which has never been used anywhere before which massively favoured one driver over another. I cannot remember ever seeing that done before, but whether it has or not it’s completely unacceptable in any sporting competition. I won’t be “moving on” until, at a minimum, I see clear signs that something is being done to stop this sort of farce occurring in future.

      1. I won’t be “moving on” either @drmouse

  82. Lots of discussions on this forum going way of scope or into fantasy land, triggered by some feeling Lewis would have been the correct WDC. While that’s a far reaching cry, as the season compromises of much more than just a single race, there is value in feeling this particular race ended incorrectly. There was only one solution in this case which is to end the race under the Safety Car. There simply weren’t enough laps left. So Lewis should have won. And didn’t because of race control. Now let’s have a look at other results that were false because of Race Control: Lewis shouldn’t have won at Silverstone, he shouldn’t have been able to get back to 2nd in Imola. He shouldn’t have been in a position to fight for the championship at the last round in the first place. So it was clearly a gift he was still in it before the race started. The race result was wrong, but the correlation to the World Title is grasping at straws.

    1. You state one fact that cannot be argued with: There was only one solution in this case which is to end the race under the Safety Car. There simply weren’t enough laps left. So Lewis should have won. And didn’t because of race control.
      The rest is up to interpretation. You argue Lewis shouldn’t have won in Silverstone, same way one could argue Max should have been disqualified for his brake testing, which means he was gifted the 18 points he lost in Silverstone. You argue about Imola the same way someone can argue that Max parked his car on Lewis’s head while Lewis was ahead on Monza. Racing incidents can be interpreted in many ways, as show by the lack of consistency on imparting penalties thoughout the year. Rules are black and white

    2. Even if we assume you are correct in terms of the championship, this race is completely different. No matter what happened previously, the 2 went in to this level, and the winner was to take the WDC. However, barring legal challenges, there was nothing to be done by either driver or team to change the WDC after this race, and this specific race was, at a minimum, badly handled.

      Note that RBR had options to protest and to take action further earlier in the season if they felt wronged. They chose not to because they had the rest of the season to fight. You can bet your bottom dollar that Horner would be challenging this just as Mercedes are now had it been Max who had lost out. This race, this situation, was not even remotely similar to previous races.

  83. Race Control should let all overtaken cars go. If that meant the race ended under the Safety Car, so be it. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. That is not forbidden under the rules. Letting only some of the overtaken cars cars go, is.

    It’s a shame. Everybody wanted 2021 to me remembered as the best F1 Championship ever, but I believe it will be remembered as the Grand Theft Auto of F1…

    And I say again, if all F1 drivers will allow Max fast longes into corners and push the other drivers out of track, everybody will get that. He doesn’t have anything special for Hamilton, he will do it to everybody, until people have the balls to not lift up to let him pass, but keep the car there and crash…

    Maybe when he see how many races he will not score a point, he will change his driving behavior…

  84. Very good “I say”. F1, the pinnacle of Motorshows.
    Both drivers did amazing, FIA did not. All season.

  85. This was the culmination of many poor decisions this year. Racing has been devalued by inconsistent and ‘nanny’ decision making. Alonso pointed it out many times.
    Masi’s position is now untenable and the whole steward decision making needs revising so that racing can be at the forefront again.

  86. Charlie Payne
    14th December 2021, 8:07

    Just came across this on Fox News…

    Masi knows what he did on the weekend was for the show.

    “an incident from last season – and Race Director’s Masi’s response to it – have thrown his controversial actions from this weekend’s race into fresh doubt.
    In October 2020 in the Eifel Grand Prix at Germany’s iconic Nurburgring, McLaren’s Lando Norris suffered an engine failure with fire and smoke coming from his car. He pulled to the side of the road.
    Masi ordered a Safety Car while Norris’ car was removed from a dangerous position near the track. Then, he allowed all lapped cars to un-lap themselves – a full 10 of them – in a lengthy process. Norris had retired on lap 44, but it wasn’t until lap 50 that the race was restarted.
    At the time, Masi was blasted by fans and a number of teams and drivers for the extremely long period of time the Safety Car was deployed for – more than three laps after Norris’ car was cleared.
    Many claimed that he the way he used the Safety Car was deliberately aimed at creating a more dramatic finish. It’s a similar criticism to that aimed at the Australian following this week’s chaos.
    But Masi defended himself by referring to the same F1 regulations at the heart of the current saga.
    He told Motorsport Weekly after the race: “There’s a requirement in the sporting regulations to wave all the lapped cars past.
    “From that point, it was position six onwards that were still running [on the lead lap], so between 10 or 11 cars had to un-lap themselves.
    “Therefore the safety car period was a bit longer than what we would have normally expected.”
    Crucially, he said the requirement was that all lapped cars must be unleashed to return themselves to the lead lap – the opposite of his controversial actions this weekend.”

    1. Between the lines I am reading: Masi gets blasted when he takes the time to let all cars unlap themselves, but he also gets blasted when he doesn’t take the time to let all cars unlap themselves.

      In my opionion Masi made some wrong calls, but I still think he has the best intentions in mind.

      1. Charlie Payne
        14th December 2021, 9:39

        I think you make a fair point and I agree, it’s with the best intent, my only issue is that he’s not following the rules and standard procedure in this recent race and that unfortunately due to it being end of season has had massive irreversible consequences. Best intent is not a suitable defence. Regrettably I think he needs to step down.

      2. I agree that his intentions were good (for some value of good), but that doesn’t make his actions acceptable.

        He has previously said that he has no choice but to follow the safety car procedure. Now, all of a sudden, on a title decider with a winner takes all situation, suddenly he is…

  87. I don’t disagree with trying to avoid the last race ending behind the SC, after the exciting season BUT as you correctly pointed out, they could use the same solution for Baku, red flag with 2 laps to go.
    I was very badly done adding to this the previous message that cars would not be allowed to unlap (makes sense in regards to safety as cars unlapping and rejoining the queue beats the purpose of the SC being deployed) and then reversing the decision with just some of drivers unlapping just seems a complete “fart” of an idea…

    1. After watching the Best Team Radio video, I noticed that Alonso mentioned already on lap 55 to allow the cars to unlap and then green flag the following lap, meaning they would race for 2 laps. I didn’t consider that option before but noticed people in the comments mentioning that cars could have unlapped sooner, so it would be the correct decision UNLESS there were still hazards on the track at that time…

  88. Kimberley Barrass
    14th December 2021, 8:51

    As I said at the time – It seemed cut and dry at the time – and still does so – the answer is no. It was a bad decision that seemed to be made under pressure.
    It was bad, because it broke the FIAs own rule and was without any kind of precedent at all so far as I can see –
    and indeed there is precedent for all cars to have to unlap as mentioned here and I don’t know if the safety car has ever been brought in early – I certainly can’t find an example. Worse – it was also internally self-inconsistent – because only the top two places were equalised without lapped cars between them. Interestingly – this second point actually works against the FIA ruling in their ruling – they claim that the spirit of the rules is to unlap cars so as not to interfere with the top drivers. – However an arbitrary decision was made that only two of the top runners deserved this classification.

    Due to the timing of the safety car – the decisions made (and there were several in a small space of time) means that in the purest sense of the terms the race was ‘manipulated’ – I don’t believe there was any bias or backdoor shenanigans and certainly no collusion between the FIA and Red Bull – I just mean that the decisions conspired to create a situation where racing occurred on the final lap – only – in accordance with the race directors desires and not in accordance with rules or precedent.. – That leaves an incredibly bad taste in the mouth all on it’s own. – But due to the fact that the circumstances in the race 49? lap hards against 2 lap softs? meant that as soon as these decisions were confirmed – the running order of the race looked pretty much guaranteed to change adds to the bad feeling.

    After such (mainly) a good season – with two such dominant drivers – to have the championship decided under such circumstances is so galling to me as an informed spectator (I know the rules – I check the yearly changes to regulations – I investigate the technical changes year on year, etc.) – I can’t imagine how Mercedes must be feeling. If I was in their shoes – I would be absolutely seething…

  89. I think the key error was not getting Eduardo Freitas to be the race director for F1.

    1. That would be a very good choice, given his experience and how he has to handle 4 races in one, given the nature of multi-class racing in the WEC, but given how Liberty and Masi have made the role of the race director so public and front-of house, if I were Eduardo Freitas I’d be very wary of leaving the WEC and taking the F1 role on. I would also imagine given how the WEC is going to evolve with the increasing number of Hypercar/LMDh entries, they’d want to hang to him.

  90. Everyone should watch The Chain Bear YouTube channel’s take on the controversy and I totally agree with him.

    People are misrepresenting the rules when they say it clearly states the Race Director has total control over the use of the safety car. That section of the rules is simply stating the responsibilities the Race Director has, including the safety car, not that he can do whatever he wants with the safety car.

    And then from a purely sporting aspect it is insane that drivers like Sainz also got completely shafted and not given the same opportunities as Max to compete. It was so cynical to clear cars between Max and Lewis but screw over the rest of the field behind.

    Worst of all, I think if we’d had a Red flag and restart we would have had a super exciting sprint race with all equal between the drivers, but we were denied that and instead one driver was gifted the race, with the rules clearly not followed to enable that. How can a fair minded person watch that and not feel cynical about the entire affair.

    And to those saying “oh well ultimately the deserved champion won”, that’s not what we’re talking about whether you think this was natural justice for him or whatever, that doesn’t just nullify a race being badly run by the race director because you think it was ultimately the right outcome. Plus they did go in on equal points and if Hamilton had got the win they’d be on an equal amount of wins so saying Max was the clear deserved championship winner is really dismissing Hamilton performance over the year which the points clearly point to.

    1. charlie payne
      14th December 2021, 9:55

      Great post and thank you

    2. @davidhunter13 and let’s not forget that one of those “wins” was Spa 2021…

  91. I feel that I’ve been whining about Masi on here all year and this is entirely in character, both in his apparent desire to put the show first and weakness of character demonstrated in his snarky comments to Toto over the radio.

    As ever, Keith nails the opinion piece and is absolutely correct. I would add that at some point this messiness, the bickering/lobbying from teams to the FIA although new to the broadcast likely isn’t new at all to those involved. F1 have simply made the choice to broadcast it this year and if there reason to think it brings the sport into disrepute, I cannot imagine another high level sport that would view Masi’s comments positive to their brand, some fault may lie with who’s directing the broadcast.

  92. I think the stewards/masi were trying to rectify their mistake from earlier by realising they should have let the lapped cars overtake from the beginning of the penultimate lap, not towards the end of it. So if the rules had been followed correctly from the start Max would have ended up behind Lewis ANYWAY. But then, if the rules had been followed correctly from the start Lewis would have been told to give the place back on the first lap, as Martin Brundle said, it was a perfectly fine overtake. Lewis was not forced off the road, he chose to cut the corner, as they were both nearly at standstill, lewis could have just filed in behind max.
    Lets face it, Lewis still started that last lap in first place, and if he had defended like Perez did against him, then he would have still won the championship. But he didnt, he left the DOOR WIDE OPEN at the hairpin, just like he did on lap 1. If Perez could defend against him with really old tyres, why could Lewis do the same to Max………. Everyone seems to be focusing on the procedures/stewarding when that race finished under green, and Lewis was in the lead starting that last lap.

    1. Said it time and again Hams racecraft is very lacking at times. He should have known Max would have gone for the inside (like lap one) and braked later and had a much better run onto the straight and easily overtaken him. But again he just tries to go side by side at all costs. He could even had backed off in Monza, let Max through then had a better run down to Della Rogia.

    2. Hamilton dropped the ball on that one. Max did the same move in multiple races and Hamilton keeps trying to go to the outside and drive side by side. Every time he ended up forced wide.

      If Hamilton defended the inside he would have won the race.

    3. Bingo, the call to not let any cars unlap themselves was a result of Masi being brow beaten by Wolff and his subsequent change of heart was due to Horner. He was far too weak in the first place.

    4. Lewis still started that last lap in first place, and if he had defended like Perez did against him, then he would have still won the championship

      Perez was on used softs against new hards, where Hamilton was on used hards against new softs. That is very different, and Hamilton didn’t stand a chance at that point.

      As for the rest:
      I agree that Hamilton should have given the place back. That said, this is very similar to several times Max has got away with gaining advantage off-track, so while I completely disagree with it, I can understand the stewards making that call, and it is at least consistent (as far as F1 stewards are ever consistent). I’d much prefer them to be much stricter with gaining an advantage by leaving the track, but this is the situation we are in.

      Yes, assuming it was safe to do so, they should have cleared lapped runners earlier. However, 2 wrongs do not make a right: They can’t be allowed to make up random rules just because they made a mistake, even if they think that the new rules “makes up for” their original mistake, especially when it doesn’t “make up for” that mistake with anyone but one driver. You wouldn’t see them penalise a driver’s rival by 10s just because the incorrectly penalised them by that much earlier in the race.

  93. It is so nice to see so many people supporting Sainz…

  94. Drink up folks, everybody knows Redbull gives you an unfair advantage..

  95. I don’t think it did. The decision they made caused a huge controversy giving a win to Verstappen in a race where he was much slower throughout the race. If they ended the race under a safety car it would have had much less controversy and they would not have broken any rules or needed bending of said rules.

    I understand the wish to end on a green lap but you need to take into account that doing so can cause controversy which may be detrimental to F1 as a whole.

  96. I personally think that in this situation, with so few laps remaining, they should simply have shuffled all the cars on the lead lap to the front of the safety car queue and just have the lapped cars drop behind them rather than unlapping themselves and going round again. This would have taken a lot less time and still maintained some [relate] authenticity to the running order.

    Yes, this would potentially disadvantage a car that has just been lapped while close to a car that was about to be lapped, but you’d still have roughly the right running order, plus there would have been the added excitement of Sainz, Tsunoda and Gasly, etc also potentially having a part to play, increasing the jeopardy for both Max and Lewis (If Max had made a dive, forced him and Lewis out wide again, we’d have seen Carlos take his first win for Ferrari, Tsunoda on the podium, and the world title fight still raging on behind them !!)

  97. The “show” has always been a big part of F1. It is both a sport and an entertainment, like football, cricket, tennis, boxing etc. What about the numerous mid-season technical changes for the “show” , mass dampers, F-duct, EBD FRIC all being banned as regulations without explanation and with no change of prior results.

    People are acting like Hamilton has won his championships and its always been fair? No, Mercedes have had the biggest budget, and Hamilton winning in vastly superior machinery to his rivals for the for a period of time greater than any other driver in the history of the sport. When Red-Bull and Ferrari dominated for half that period there were sweeping regulations for “the show”. Mercedes have also got away with a lot in that period too, don’t google Mercedes illegal testing Hamilton fans.

  98. I think Hamilton is correct to say the race result was ‘manipulated’ but not to favour Verstappen specifically, but for the sake of the ‘show’.

    That dread phrase ‘for the sake of the show’ will kill F1 if it is not checked.

    Rules are disregarded, rules are changed to penalise a particular manufacturer leaving collateral damage in other teams, offences against the regulations are over looked, the white line marking the track limits become redundant by Race Director dictat. The same RD who makes bargains with teams during the race, then ignores the rules he himself has repeatedly defended. All this in the name of ‘the show’.

    A sport without firm rules and without those rules being firmly and fairly enforced becomes just a show where merit is the quality of entertainment rather than sporting excellence.

    Perhaps FIA now stands for Folly In Amusment.

  99. Taking the tyre element out of the equation. Mercedes had the option to pit tyre for Lewis and they decided not to, both for the VSC and the SC. As far as I am concerned that was a decision made by Mercedes and has no place in the debate.

    Should the race have finished under the safety car?
    Absolutely not, incidents happen in racing and the safety car (whether liked or not) is a part of that racing, but, given the gravity of this race, the race needed to finish with a racing lap if possible.

    Clearing the back markers.

    Should the back markers been cleared?
    This is the element that has bought about much of the questioning about the end of the race. I do feel that the back marker traffic should have been cleared. Maybe rather than letting the back marker traffic overtake the safety car they should be advised to draw back behind the final car in the lead lap train. This would have allowed all those on the final lap sprint a fair chance on the last lap. Clearing the traffic from between Lewis and Max, whilst it is understandable (in some ways), it allowed the two title contenders an opportunity to race on the final lap.

    Was Micheal Masi under duress from either of the teams during the race? Probably not, he has to make decisions during the race on how best to proceed with the rule books as a guideline (as has been pointed out, he is allowed to use the safety car as and when he sees fit to use it), which gives an amount of scope and tolerance on the regulations.

    Should the race have been red flagged and then a final sprint?
    No, it was safe to clear the track whilst the safety car was in action.

    There is no doubt that without the safety car, Hamilton would have won (pending anything failing on his car). Safety cars happen at many races and affect the outcome of races accordingly. Had Mercedes decided to have pit Hamilton, he may have taken his 8th WDC, but, that is something the Mercedes strategists need to account for.

    1. Maybe rather than letting the back marker traffic overtake the safety car they should be advised to draw back behind the final car in the lead lap train.

      Just as a brief note, if you were suggesting that this could be done here, I do not believe it could. The regulations only allow very limited set of circumstances where any car can pass another under the SC. Although, if Masi has the power to do whatever the hell he likes, then yes, he could have done this and it would have been more legit than what he did.

      If you were suggesting this as a change for next year, ignore what I said above :)

    2. There has been a lot of commentary how Masi was under pressure and had to make complex decisions in a short amount of time. I disagree.
      I can’t see how Masi and his team have much to do between races. To me it is inconceivable that they hadn’t already asked themselves the question “what do we do if the SC is required in the last 5 laps of the race” (or whatever number is appropriate) and also had a clear plan as to what to do in various circumstances, within the rules, so as to provide the best opportunity for ending the race under the green flag.
      It’s a multi-billion dollar business, how hard is it to do your homework before the race.
      Crash with 7 laps to go – do “X”
      Crash with 3 laps to go – do “Y” etc
      The alternative is that they just decided that they would just wing it on the day.
      If they had thought about contingencies and didn’t follow them then they aren’t up to the task and must go. If they didn’t even think about contingencies then that’s even more damning and they should go even sooner.

  100. Legit question…is sending the lapped cars to the back of the line an option? I’ve always found it odd that they were able to unlap themselves in the first place. They don’t really deserve it…

    Given the situation and the pressure to finish under green that would been much easier to facilitate and much more fair to the other lead lap cars (Sainz and Tsunoda in particular here).

    1. I’ve had this thought in the past too but I believe they can’t do that because it would shorten the race distance for the cars that drop to the back.

    2. It isn’t allowed in the rules as they stand right now (although that doesn’t seem to matter to Masi). I don’t think the “shortening the race” argument flies, as the race will always be shorter by one or more laps for lapped runners. It could be an acceptable alternative, though it doesn’t really help much when a race director can just make up whatever rules he wants whenever he wants (which is what the stewards effectively said in their ruling).

  101. Michael Masi: Hmm, 10 laps to go and P1 on old tyres has a 32 secs. over P2 on brand new tyres and 8 backmarkers between them. But as Article 15.3 of the ISC entitles me to “use” the safety car when I want, the way I want and full authority to override the rules, I’m going to deploy it to make things more interesting. For the show!

    Clerk of the Course: But Michael, you can’t deploy a safety car out of nothing!

    Michael Masi: Hold my beer!

    1. That is exactly what the stewards interpretation of the rules would allow… Whether it would ever happen, I don’t know. Before Sunday I would have laughed at the suggestion, but then I would have laughed at the suggestion of what they did on Sunday too…

      1. Well, at the light of FIA’s interpretation of the rules and the arguments they used to reject Mercedes appeal, the hypothetical/satirical situation described above could be possible and deemed legal.

  102. Throughout the entire season I was a Max supporter, I am tired of the dominance of Driver1, in an overpowered car with a Driver2 that is not allowed to challenge. However, I fully agree that Hamilton was robbed of a championship. Mercedes made the perfect strategic decision in keeping Hamilton out for the Safety Car.

    Mercedes were counting on the rules regarding lapped cars being applied correctly. Which would’ve inevitably resulted in the race either finishing under SC, or Hamilton having 5 slow cars as a buffer between himself and Verstappen after a restart. Mercedes had pretty much secured the victory, Hamilton is the rightful winner of Abu Dhabi 2021.
    Mercedes were denied a victory by FIA, via unlawful application of the rules. I’ve never heard of only a select number of lapped cars being allowed to overtake the SC, all lapped cars should have been allowed past, or none. Strategy has always been a key element in F1 races, how can there be any strategy if the rules are applied so wantonly?

    Formula 1 is not NASCAR, NASCAR is a joke of a sport. They use the slightest excuse to bring out the safety car and bunch up the grid. The new-ish americans owners will turn F1 into a joke like NASCAR for the sake of drama and views.

    I find it harder and harder to believe that all of this political, racial, and environmental politic bull invading the sport after it was bought by americans, to be a coincidence. I can’t believe I miss Bernie Ecclestone and his stance in F1 being used as “a PlAtFoRm” to do anything other than: Get in car, go and race.
    On a personal level, I absolutely loathe the way multi millionaires like Hamilton and Vettel use their helmets to preach to us average plebs, who are just trying to make ends meet, about how much more we could be doing for the planet while they hop onto their private planes to go to a luxury resort.

    Anything that ever goes into american ownership is inevitably drained of Substance, Soul, and Integrity.

  103. Well at least the world burst from joy..
    The Max effect on F1… people really enjoy F1 again.

    Germany: https://youtu.be/CZrHcPSvpuw

    India: https://youtu.be/TL8ooxMCKK0

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