FIA begins investigation into Abu Dhabi restart controversy

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In the round-up: The FIA has begun its analysis of the controversial end to the last season’s title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, in which Lewis Hamilton lost the world championship to Max Verstappen following an unusual application of the Safety Car restart rules.

In brief

Calan Williams moves up to F2 with Trident

Australian junior driver Calan Williams has signed to Trident for a 2022 Formula 2 campaign, after contesting the 2021 Formula 3 season with Jenzer. Williams’ best result was a third place at Le Castellet, placing 19th overall in his first full season of Formula 3 after missing the final round of the 2020 season. Trident is yet to confirm who his team mate will be.

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Comment of the day

After former F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg said that he believed the 2022 car adaptations would have no benefits to overtaking, following simulator runs, Srjdan Mandic points out this directly contradicts other drivers’ feedback.

Nico’s quote regarding the driving experience is interesting. A couple of months ago Charles Leclerc was saying the complete opposite, after he did his first run with the 2022 model in the simulator. According to Charles, drving the 2022 car felt completely different to the previous cars. But that was months earlier compared to Nico (I think somewhere in October) and the teams are making progress week after week, so I wouldn’t read to much into this. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Somehow I can’t imagine the effect of dirty air with the new regs being similar to the 2021 cars, because the airflow should be vastly different from what we had in the recent past. Especially with the triangular shape of the front wing endplate. Unless the designers have figured out a way to still direct the airflow around the tyres and away from the rear wing, but I doubt they have.
@srga91

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Ace, Kei and Diego!

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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  • 125 comments on “FIA begins investigation into Abu Dhabi restart controversy”

    1. Coventry Climax
      13th January 2022, 0:12

      The butcher officially declared another of his investigations into the quality of his own meat for opened.

      And people still think anything useful will come out of this.

    2. FIA begins investigation into Abu Dhabi restart controversy

      I would think everyone has read or heard the rumours, lets see where they go wtih this.

      1. I’m willing to wait to see what comes out of the investigation. I’m not optimistic. Given all communications around it so far, I expect a whitewash, but we won’t know until we hear from the investigation.

        1. I think FIA at this point is convinced Masi messed up and they are well aware of the implications for the sport (particularly in the short term) of Lewis suddenly leaving the sport due to sport integrity issues so prior to any “investigation” FIA probably has a strategy in place and they’ll try recognize Masi should have done a better job to appease Mercedes an Lewis without declaring his decision a gift to Max and Red Bull but frame it as an honest mistake.

          Personally I think FIA should be brave enough to let a panel of independent people review the events of Abu Dhabi and live with the conclusions.

          1. Even if the FIA feel that Masi “messed up” I’d be surprised if they fire him.

            Doing so would cast a large shadow over Verstappen’s victory which I am pretty certain they would prefer to avoid.

            Expect a response similar to Boris Johnson’s apology in the House of Commons yesterday i.e. “I don’t think we did anything wrong but we apologise anyway just in case you think that we did!”

            1. I agree with you. Also, regardless of results, Verstappen’s win will always have an asterisk next to it. Every time it gets brought up in the future, anyone who knows the context will in some way, shape or form, remember how he won it.
              I’m a huge Max fan…have been for the past 5-6 seasons…Ultimately, I love that he won….hate the way he won it. Max IS the better driver of the year however, Merc had the better machine.

          2. @jcost “FIA at this point is convinced Masi messed up” i strongly disagree, i think masi was ordered by someone above him to make the decision and using him as a scapegoat.

            Investigation is a complete waste of time, FIA are too corrupt, it would be like asking the mafia to investigate themselves..

            1. It was ordered by Jean Todt as he didn’t want Michael Schumacher’s record being beaten, and his last year in the roll, Hamilton was spot on race manipulted

      2. Jack (@jackisthestig)
        13th January 2022, 11:46

        I’m very curious to see what happens, the FIA works in in mysterious ways at times. Now they are investigating the actions of their own race director who appears to be most heavily influenced by the commercial rights holder rather than themselves, the governing body.

        I can’t imagine they will unceremoniously sack Masi, perhaps just promote him to some position of obscurity.

        1. he may have already been sacked: He is missing from published the FIA General Organisation Chart already! Rumors says that Tombazis is sacked too in a deal to keep Mercedes/Lewis happy to continue.

    3. COTD: Hulkenberg’s comments are really suspicious. I commented on an article in 2020 stating that the slower the cars go, the better they are for overtaking. But given that the airflow and the front wing alingment is completely different, there has to be a huge difference to that of the current cars since understeer, one of the highest effects of dirty air, is generated by a lack of front downforce. Especially, the floor shape of the 2022 cars, should prevent loss of downforce when following cars.

      LOL I wonder if a team will come up with the idea to have a car designed to impact the downforce of cars behind their cars, making following more difficult than predicted. I remember seeing in a youtube video that the 2001 Williams I think? Caused difficulties for cars behind it to follow, an example was Verstappen’s crash in Brazil with Montoya? Maybe a team could come up with something crazy like this.

      1. @krichelle
        I have a vague memory of an open wheel series, might have been Indy.
        Had something to do with the area at the rear of the car where they stuffed the starter through to fire up the motor.
        Some creative engineer found a way to shape that area so it seriously messed with the airflow of a car following.

        1. That sounds like the Brawn BGP 001 (most optimistic model name ever. The rules for the F1 2009 Overtaking Working Group’s recommendations allowed the space for the starter hole to be… somewhat nebulous. So Ross Brawn stuck a few extra bits of carbon around the hole, and created the double-diffuser, producing waaaay more downforce than any F1 car had a right to, and along the way, producing a massive wake of seriously disturbed air.

          Worse than that, before the season, he pointed it out to the FIA, and they said it wouldn’t be that big a deal.

          Brawn’s car went on to win 6 of the first 7 races– while other teams such as Toyota and Williams also had it early in the season, their implementation wasn’t as good.

      2. @krichelle

        I wonder if a team will come up with the idea to have a car designed to impact the downforce of cars behind their cars

        This is exactly what Ross Brawn was talking about when he made the comment about the FIA banning things. He didn’t mean that they were going to ban anything innovative or that gives a performance advantage like many posters seem to think. He was saying that they would be quick to ban anything that went against the philosophy (closer racing) of the new cars, such as aerodynamic/other devices that impacted a cars ability to follow it.

    4. Hope the FIA investigation has some teeth into the ball of problems over the restart in Abu Dhabi.

      Maybe replacing Masi should be good. (Someone similar to Charlie Whiting would be better.)

      Avoid a controversy like this happening ever again.

      Even if they fix this problem, but they probably will not go back in time to change the race result. I wish they would, but won’t be changed.

      1. The problem is (at least they say it) there is no replacement for Masi. I believe he will stay at least for now.

        1. No one is irreplaceable, and Masi’s job is now obviously untenable. Seems to me that the FIA is preparing to throw him under the bus and effectively say “look, we sacked the guy, everything is ok now!” etc. Replacement – potentially – could come from the other FIA-sanctioned series (WRC, C, Supercars – where Masi came from – and so on).
          Interesting that it’s taken a full month for the investigation to get underway though. Was the FIA pressured into starting the investigation? Surely if they were agreed that an investigation was needed, they’d have embarked on it immediately after their gala ceremony at the latest?
          This will be galling for the Max fans though, they’ve carried on like there was nothing to discuss about Abu Dhabi. Interesting to see what Horner and Red Bull say about this.

          1. @NeverElectric What series is C? I couldn’t find anything specific.
            I reckon only track categories, including FE since WRC doesn’t really have a ‘race director’ per see.
            I agree on investigation only starting recently rather than shortly afterwards, though. Interesting & weird.

          2. Interesting that it’s taken a full month for the investigation to get underway though.

            That’s not what it says though.
            The article merely says “An investigation by Formula One’s governing body into last season’s Abu Dhabi finale is picking up speed”.
            Of course starting is a way of ‘picking up speed’ as well :P

          3. @neverelectric

            “ This will be galling for the Max fans though, they’ve carried on like there was nothing to discuss about Abu Dhabi.”

            That is a lie as big as one can make.
            Every neutral, objective or Max fan agree 100% that the refusal of the stewards to order Lewis to give the place back after Max his gorgeous lap 1 overtake was a travesty and should be discussed in depth by the FIA. (As is the topic of not penalizing Lewis for ignoring double yellow in Jeddah.)

            The problem here are the Hamilton fans who can’t accept poetic justice.

            The best driver of the season (by miles)became WDC, what’s not to like about that?

            Reply moderated
        2. I think they need to restructure the FIA technical team– Whiting was doing several jobs, and Masi inherited all of them. Give him the technical issues and the safety issues / inspections– and bring in someone else to run the race weekends. Ideally, two someone else’s, so that the FIA isn’t so dependent on one person to manage the race weekends.

          1. Grat this isn’t quite correct I don’t think. Whiting’s role was split up after his death and Masi inherited the sporting side, while Nikolas Tombazis inherited the technical side.

        3. It was only in Saudi that I noted that Masi was running the support races too & they were quite stressful with lots of Director intervention required (& also a bit of a hash). IIRC Masi was on physically on track during red flags directing barrier repairs and even assisting with cleanup, literally sweating the details.
          But he should have had an understudy do most if not all that – both to lighten the load and, for now much needed, succession options.
          Much like he shouldn’t be answering pitwall calls – a deputy could field calls & just – he listen in if he wanted it verbatim or to say respond.

          1. @didaho Masi is head of single seater, which at an F1 weekend covers F1, F2 and F3. However, I believe he is not the race director for these series, listed as Bob Kettleboro on their documents (Race director’s event notes etc.).

            I would assume being present at the barrier repairs in Jeddah were to make sure they met the standards necessary, as he was the highest ranked FIA official present, and safe for Formula 1 later in the day.

        4. @qeki Nothing has been confirmed yet, and I’m not 100% sure whether it’s accurate, but it appears that Masi has been replaced as sporting head of single seaters, along with Tombazis as technical head, with Peter Bayer currently listed as Head of single seater (though I assume that would be a temporary role until they can fond a permanent replacement). However, as I say, this is unofficial at the moment so don’t read 100% into it just yet.

          1. This rumour is based on a publication in which the name of Masi is missing.
            The same document last year was exactly the same, so without the name Masi.
            Wishful thinking.

            1. Despite your attempt at running a deception campaign, the version of that document which was issued in October 2021 did explicitly list Masi in that role.

            2. As anon points out, the October 2021 edition of the document lists Masi as “Head of Single Seater’s (Sporting)”, and Tombazis as “Head of Single Seater’s (Technical)”. And as I said in my original comment, nothing is 100% certain or official yet, I feel this is just a good indication of where things might be going.

            3. @anon But not anymore in the latest structure release, i.e., this month’s version.

        5. Yes there is.
          The guy coming to supposedly be Masi’s Deputy has many years more experience directing races.
          So hopefully we will be getting him, as DTM itself is a similar formula when it comes to how races are run.
          Hes also used to hard racing, as well as drawing a hard line behind what is acceptable, and keeping those decision consistent.
          I dont know why everyone is wanting to give Masi such a break when he literally has one of the most important jobs in F1. We dont need to compromise. There are people out there with the experience and actually care to learn the rules and not interpret them differently from one race to another.
          Masi’s SC interpretation between Germany 2020 and Abu Dhabi 2021 totally contradict each other.
          Yet when people ask for explanations he just says that the rules are clear? When you have teams and drivers constantly complaining that they are no longer clear….
          And then he takes offence when people question him???
          Im sure hes a nice guy, but hes useless at this job.

        6. Masi is gone I believe.

        7. The problem is that replacing Masi is not good enough. The stewards have endorsed his decision as being legitimate and legal, and set a precedent that the RD has unlimited, absolute and total control over the safety car (and, by extension, race starts) regardless of any other written regulation. Even if he is replaced, that precedent stands, and there is no guarantee that the new RD will not do something as bad or worse.

          The regulations need to change to put limits on this power, and the rest of the regulations need to be reviewed to ensure such powers are not given elsewhere. Ideally, there also needs to be an independent panel to review decision of both the race director and the stewards, make recommendations to reduce inconsistency, and with the power to discipline the officials if they are found to have acted improperly, although I don’t expect this will happen. In fact, I don’t think either will. The most we are likely to see IMHO is Masi being fired, but everything else left the same and nothing improving. In other words, a whitewash.

          1. @drmouse

            Exactly this. The root problem isn’t that Masi interfered in an inappropriate way, it’s that he could.

            The result of every race that takes place without significant structural change in governance only stands because the Race Director approves of it. If the Race Director wants something different, there’s nothing stopping them from changing it. In that scenario, why are we even bothering.

            I wouldn’t have any personal problem with Masi staying as long as the governance of the sport is sorted out properly.

          2. @drmouse
            ‘The stewards have endorsed his decision as being legitimate and legal’ – because it was.
            ‘the RD has unlimited, absolute and total control over the safety car’ – because they do.

            But keep talking about how the rules were broken…

            1. because they do.

              Yes – which is exactly the problem that needs to be fixed. Well done for identifying it – more than I expected you to do.

            2. Precisely the problem.

              What happens when, next year, a race is looking a bit dull because the driver you support is 30+ seconds out in the lead? Would you be happy with the RD deploying the safety car without an incident, bunching up the field, and causing your favoured driver to lose the win? Because that is what you are arguing he has, and should have, the power to do based on the stewards’ decision.

              In fact, by extension, he also has the same level of power over race starts. There would be nothing in the rules stopping him from sending a driver to the back of the grid, or the pits, without a valid reason, or even for him to allow one driver to start before any others.

              Nobody has, until now, tested or used that rule in that way. However, Masi now has and the stewards have endorsed it. The race director has unlimited, complete and total power over the safety car (and race starts), and nothing in the rules stops him from doing any of the above. It doesn’t even matter if we think he ever would: I never thought I would see a race director behave as Masi did in Abu Dhabi, and would have laughed at any suggestion that he would before then, but here we are. The fact is that there must be limits placed on his powers, or else they are wide open to abuse. Whether you believe his actions at Abu Dhabi were an abuse of that power, and whether you believe he ever would abuse that power, is completely irrelevant when it is completely legal for him to do so.

            3. Would you be happy with the RD deploying the safety car without an incident, bunching up the field, and causing your favoured driver to lose the win? Because that is what you are arguing he has, and should have, the power to do based on the stewards’ decision.

              That would never happen, of course.
              The power to implement sensible race direction in specific circumstances, though, is something the Race Director absolutely should have.

              The fact is that there must be limits placed on his powers, or else they are wide open to abuse.

              Your opinion is that limits must be placed on his power… It’s not fact.
              However – without someone having that power, F1 would continue to get unnecessarily bogged down in red tape. Which is even less desirable, considering all the things that modern F1 is and wants to be.

              Whether you believe his actions at Abu Dhabi were an abuse of that power, and whether you believe he ever would abuse that power, is completely irrelevant when it is completely legal for him to do so.

              And yet the organisation with the authority to give him that power has done so, and further than that, has supported his decision.
              It is absolutely relevant if (certain) people think he would abuse that power. They wouldn’t give it to him if they thought he would misuse it, and they wouldn’t have so publicly backed him if they felt that he already had.

            4. And yet the organisation with the authority to give him that power has done so, and further than that, has supported his decision.

              The stewards have supported the fact that the current regulations give him that power. I will reserve judgement on this matter until I see the results of the investigation, but if that investigation endorses this and places no limits on that power, I’m out. Nobody should have such power, IMHO.

              If I give the keys to my house to someone for use in an emergency, they could, of course, go in and rob me, or host a party and trash the place while I am away. It would not be legal for them to do so, though. The stewards decision confirms it to be legal for him to do as I indicated above, which massively changes things.

              The race director needs to be able to react to circumstances which are not covered by the rules, or where the rules would be dangerous to follow as written, neither of which apply to Abu Dhabi. They should not have free rein to ignore or change rules for any reason without limit, and if this is confirmed as acceptable to the FIA in the results of this investigation, I can no longer consider it a sporting competition and will no longer watch.

      2. The problem is that after yesterdays bbc article, replacing Masi must mean Hamilton fired Masi and that is a really really bad look.

        1. Only if you look at the BBC article in isolation. Variations of this story appeared in Spain and France before others had it and the original ‘Masi out’ line came from there in relation to a number of things Mercedes wanted with their stance that the problems go beyond Masi. Also Bayer was pencilled in for the Head of Single Seater some time ago. IMS as part of the new guys presentation to be the FIA Boss. In addition Sky were reporting earlier than the BBC article that many senior figures in F1 and a number of teams believed Masi’s position was untenable.
          I think its a stretch to think with the new FIA head saying that Hamilton hasn’t spoke to him, the press saying he hasn’t spoke to anyone, and Toto saying he is the only one Ham speaks to, that somehow Ham has done a deal with whoever in the FIA to get rid of Masi.

          1. In addition Sky were reporting earlier than the BBC article that many senior figures in F1 and a number of teams believed Masi’s position was untenable.

            Binotto has stated that Ferrari are already on Masi’s side which means that he is in a very strong position. The point is Ferrari have finally realised how much political influence Wolff has over F1 and decided to fight fire with fire. Remember that Wolff was indeed the main candidate to the F1 top job till he got vetoed by Ferrari and Domenicali a former Ferrari man was appointed as F1 CEO.

            Also Ross Brawn who left Mercedes because he couldn’t trust Wolff and Lauda is on Masi’s side and won’t let him and Tombazis who worked under his leadership in Ferrari leave just to satisfy Wolff and Mercedes.

        2. Masi did enough to be fired and Hamilton being mad at his decisions is perfectly normal. I don’t see anything controversial in letting Messi go after Abu Dhabi debacle and other weired decisions over the season.

      3. Maybe replacing Masi should be good. (Someone similar to Charlie Whiting would be better.)

        Charlie Whiting – he may RIP – used to be a pillar of the sport, no question about that. Though he himself was involved in more farcical decisions than the restart of the SC in Abu Dhabi that resulted sometimes in rules/procedures to be amended.

        Alonso’s drive through penalty handling in the 2010 British GP and his statements to the Italian motorsport magazine Autosprint that were contradicted by evidence brought by Ferrari. The SC handing in the European GP (Valencia) the same year was as controversial if not more than the Abu Dhabi situation and as a result the SC deployment procedure was changed.

        Those decision cost Alonso the championship that year and I don’t recall him nor Ferrari or the tifosi crying over it the same way Hamilton fan–boys and the biased media are doing now. Mercedes and Hamilton have benefited from Masi’s incompetence and his show influenced decisions but they never complained before. Now they are asking for his head to satisfy their childish need for vendetta.

        1. @tifoso1989 My recollection of Valencia 2010 is that multiple drivers (including most of the top ten) escaped penalty for breaching the safety car delta times, though presumably that was a stewards’ decision rather than Whiting’s. I think it was the same race where Hamilton overtook the safety car and got a 10-second penalty, which was nowhere near enough to hand back the advantage he’d gained from his illegal move. But again, that would have been the stewards’ call, not Whiting’s.

          However Charlie was also at the helm for the 2014 Japanese GP, and some of the decision-making that day was at least as wayward as Abu Dhabi, with ultimately more tragic consequences – not least the decision to start the race at all, when the medical helicopter couldn’t take off, and of course the fateful decision not to deploy a safety car when Sutil crashed.

      4. @bullmello
        You wish they change the race result, and Lewis will be WC? Yeah great, the whole world will laugh at the FIA except GB and the lewis fans. Grow up man and be realistic. Only in GB they keep moaning about this and do forget about the rather ugly things MB did at the start from the season, the luck of lewis etc. Yeah, max was very lucky the last race of course, but Reading international media you can conclude the majority thinks max deserved the title.

      1. @jimfromus Lol I had exactly the same reaction when I first saw that match yesterday!

        1. RandomMallard,
          Don’t tell me you’re Tunisian :)

          1. @tifoso1989 No I’m not. But quite a big football fan so this just caught my eye

            1. RandomMallard,
              As all Tunisians, I watched the match live and couldn’t believe what I’ve just seen. Not surprised though because in African football (CAN or Champions League) it’s common to see things you have never seen before.

    5. Regardless of the bitterness from the Lewis Hamilton/ Mercedes camp, the FIA’s inquiry should be influenced by the inconsistencies in decision-making which were evident throughout the season. Some rumours in the press have been outrageous, as I would imagine the reaction would be different if Red Bull or heavens forbid Ferrari were the aggrieved party trying to push the race director out.

      1. the FIA’s inquiry should be influenced by the inconsistencies in decision-making which were evident throughout the season.

        Yes, the inconsistencies likely will be brought up as a reason to replace Masi. Representatives from each team will be interviewed as part of the investigation and although Mercedes are singled out as the ones out for blood let’s not forget that multiple teams were affected by the Abu Dhabi restart; effectively every team on the grid has something negative to say about how Masi has done his job in 2021. All that to say I can’t imagine a positive outcome for Masi, I just hope that since the investigation is to wrap up in February the FIA have been interviewing replacement candidates (is anyone is brave enough to apply)

        1. @The Dolphins My understanding is only the two relevant teams, i.e., Merc & RBR, but since some others also got affected to an extent, I reckon they can also get counted as relevant for the matter.

        2. You make a very good point, and one that I have seen made elsewhere but I don’t personally think gets the attention it deserves. The decisions Masi made in Adu Dhabi affected all teams to a lesser or greater extent. For obvious reasons the RBR / Mercedes situation gets most of the headlines, but certainly other teams and drivers were impacted. Frankly, one of the things I find most disturbing about how the FIA / Masi dealt with Abu Dhabi decision making was the apparent focus on only how their decisions would affect the two championship protagonists. If F1 is really a genuine sport then the rules should be applied equally and with equal consideration for all teams. I know this may be regarded by some as a naive position, but that is how it should be. The reality of course is that the rules haven’t really been applied equally in other situations for some time, there are plenty of examples.

          So I am definitely not happy if it is true that only Merc / RBR may make representations to the FIA investigation team.

        3. Yes, the inconsistencies likely will be brought up as a reason to replace Masi.

          But the inconsistencies have been around longer than Masi, and stem more from the decisions of the stewards than the race director. Replacing Masi, in isolation, will make no difference whatsoever.

          1. we/they cant know/see what it will bring, but it is the right thing to do… he is/wasnt fit for duty, there was a more experienced person who could do the job, but he was selected for this… he failed in this job miserably so many times whole year…

      2. The delay in starting this enquiry was almost certainly because they had to draft terms of reference to be followed. In many organisations, particularly “political“ organisations like the FIA, those terms of reference will be designed to get the result they want.

        So I have very little hope that this enquiry will produce anything but a few cosmetic flourishes to appear to be addressing the inconsistencies in decision-making we have seen from the race director and stewards during the year, and the attempts of FIA rule makers to handicap particular teams with targeted rule changes.

        Least of all do I expect any real scrutiny of the role of other FIA officials, including the president, in the actions of the race director and stewards.

        1. I also expect an initial part of the delay was due to Christmas and New Year, and people taking time off to rest over that period. The season finished less than 2 weeks before Christmas day after all

        2. I would think that the fact we were more or less in the christmas / end of year break for much of the time righ after naming a new FIA president would have had at least as much to do with it Witan. To me, it really is no “delay” at all, they started immediately the second week of january, less than a month after the new president was elected.
          It takes longer to transition, hand over jobs etc, in many a government of a small country!

        3. I would expect the TOR to be very limited. It seems to be aimed at the final few laps of AD and I would expect them to exclude the rest of the race and season. In terms of who will be involved that will depend on how the FIA define impacted teams and it may be limited to MB/RBR. Not sure why they are involving the drivers other than to be inclusive, but it will be interesting to see if LH contributes.

          The enquiry is only 3 weeks, so to interview all the team personnel, Race Director, Stewards, compile and finalize report and share the report with those involved prior to publication is a very short timescale

    6. “We have done the investigation and concluded that the investigation is complete. We have taken the necessary steps to fix the remedy. No Further questions!” – FIA

      1. Davethechicken
        13th January 2022, 7:07

        Lol. You are being negative, they will at least stretch it to several paragraphs, without changing the substance!

        1. We refuse to doubt that we’re right!

    7. If Audi and Porsche enter as only engine suppliers, I think every fan is going to be disappointed.

      We want teams!

      1. Then they suddenly pull out 2 years later because the wind direction has changed.

      2. @napierrailton I believe we are going to see something akin to Aston Martin and Alfa Romeo: in the sport simply by name, not providing anything technical, it is purely a marketing exercise.

        1. aston and alfa cases are way off the mark for comparisons!

          aston doesnt make a single engine! they either use mercedes engines, or get it custom made by someone else.

          alfo is a sub brand in ferrari group for so long…

          porche and audi are same group, and make their own engines… they would compare to ferrari / alfa romeo relations…

          big problem is that if porche gets RB, i doubt honda will allow them to see the engine for obvious reasons unless they make massive ndas! due to porche/audi/mclaren complexities/issues arising from IPs

    8. I agree with COTD. Better wait until season-opener than base judgment on virtual running, which is merely driving around alone like QLF laps rather than producing wheel-to-wheel racing situations.

      1. I agree. Too much attention has been placed on comments based upon how a computer thinks a car behaves. Like it or not, simulators are programmed by people. Both the program and the parameters used for simulating the behaviour of the car are fallible.

        1. But they’d be ineffective – and therefore not used at all – if they weren’t sufficiently capable and accurate @drycrust.
          To discount a team’s simulation tools is to discount the team’s ability to create a modern racing car.

    9. I’ve seen reports that Masi is no longer listed as the Head of Single Seaters (Sporting) at the FIA, along with Tombazis no longerbeing listed as the Technical Head. This likely doesn’t mean much immediately, as nothing yet is official, but seen as Head of Single Seaters has historically also meant F1 Race Director it may be a hint Masi has been replaced. Listing Peter Bayer as unified head of single seater is likely a temporary placeholder if you ask me. I just hope Bayer can do the investigation properly.

      In terms of replacing Masi, I think even without Abu Dhabi it was getting towards a point he needed to go. He already had many issues, notably track limits and sending cars out for a Q2 session while a tractor was still recovering a car in Turkey in 2020, so I think even if Abu Dhabi hadn’t happened, it was close to him needing to go anyway. I don’t envy him; it’s a very difficult job he got parachuted into at 3 days notice. But I think he’s run his course now.

      1. My main issue with Masi is he just seemed like a closed book – whatever anyone said to him was basically ignored…. Drivers would report unsafe situations with tracks (pit entry at Baku is one example I can remember) and he’d just say “No. I’ve had a look and I think it’s fine.” People would criticise decisions and he’d say “no, we got it 100% right.”

        There was never any suggestion that he was looking to improve anything or any admittance that things weren’t perfect…. With Charlie, it felt like it was more of a team effort – drivers would flag up issues and he’d see what he could do to improve the situation.

        The situation where Masi was unable to clarify whether pushing a driver off the track at the exit of a turn was the moment for me when it became clear he needed to go. If you are unable to confirm what the rules are and how they will be policed, you can’t enforce the rules fairly…

        1. @petebaldwin Spot on, there’s also the Perez/Spa incident when he had to back track after telling RBR that Perez couldn’t restart. There’s a troubling arrogance in Masi. Whiting didn’t get everything right, but he was reasonable and had the teams respect. Masi, maybe because of his marketing background, appears to have a different view of what his race directors role is.
          And with respect, i don’t share RandomMallards sympathy for him being parachuted into the role at 3 days notice. He’s been doing the job for close to 3 years now, and prior to that he was F2 & F3 deputy race director. If he can’t do the job properly by now, then he needs to go.

        2. “closed book” is a good description of Masi’s conduct, especially with how many times he tried to dismiss things with “that’s hard racing”, which felt more and more like an excuse the more he used it.

          1. Except that’s what the teams have been asking for, Craig.
            Less intervention by Race Control and the stewards, more settling things on the track.

            Funny how they don’t seem to want it when it happens to them, though….

    10. The (vocal) controversy might be primarily around the late Abu Dhabi restart decision, but other inconsistencies and rule ambiguities were as much race and championship impacting, but just happened earlier in the season.
      – race track limits;
      – Red Flag rules (not so much unclear, but ‘unfair’ and inconsistent IMO);
      – consistency of Race Director directives and Stewards’ decisions

      They should investigate it all.

    11. Best that could be achieved is the final race results nulled so MAX WILL WIN ON POINTS AND FINISHES up to the last race.

      Mercedes strategists missed two opportunities in that race:
      1. Hamilton could have pitted.
      2. Bottas could have pitted and stayed there to delay restart.

      Mercedes loss was due to their inept strategists and nimbleness. RB on the other hand, pitted Max and pulled Perez to de-risk.

      Time to move on.

      1. They won’t even be considering changing any results. This won’t be what the investigation is looking at. It’ll be what needs to change and what can be improved so there isn’t controversy in future. If they want to finish under green flags, how can the rules be written to guarantee that, for example.

        1. @petebaldwin Simple solution for a green-flag finish without any controversy is keeping all lapped drivers in the mix unless unlapping is a doable pre-penultimate lap concerning marshal safety. Not rocket science, LOL.

        2. Never understand why they need to unlap the cars in the first place. In this case Ham had passed backmarkers. So why should Max or anyone else gain from a stoppage and not have to pass those same cars when the race is resumed? After all they gain time on those in front, why make it any easier by moving cars out the way. Specially given it takes more SC laps than needed to carry out the exercise.
          Seems to me its just another gimmick we don’t need.

          1. ian dearing

            exactly stupid decision… if they want green flag, leave back markers in place and start the race… lapped cars to pass causes 1-2 laps and a lot of times loss not to mention lead cars having to warm up longer… lapped cars will be blue flagged any way… lapped cars are not some dangerous mysterious objects suddenly appeared on the track…

            either let them all pass for cleaner race, or none pass to have a green finish race! a rule that is supposed to be applied to everyone fairly cant be manipulated to benefit only single person/team!

          2. Remember this doesn’t only go for when hamilton loses out, no red flag also means very few points (not 18) at imola, hamilton can’t unlap himself either if the unlapping cars rule is silly.

      2. 2. Bottas could have pitted and stayed there to delay restart.

        This would’ve sparked a huge controversy and Mercedes could have been sanctioned.

        Besides, that wouldn’t have worked, since Masi wasn’t following the rules. Why do you assume he would’ve waited for Bottas to catch up, when he took the SC in one lap earlier the rules allowed anyway?

        1. @hotbottoms Yes, but only the team would’ve been sanctioned, not HAM, so a win-win.
          Anyway, you rightly point out such an attempt wouldn’t have worked since Masi would’ve breached protocols in any case.

      3. 1. If Hamilton had pitted and the SC rules followed, that would have been throwing the championship away. The race would (should) have finished under the SC, and Merc would have looked like the most idiotic team in the history of F1.

        2. That’s cheating, plain and simple.

        Reply moderated
    12. ‘thorough, objective and transparent’.”
      Really?
      It’s good I’m still a fervent believer in Father Christmas!
      My Tooth Fairie told me to have trust & faith in the FIA.
      Fairies International ArsClowns!!!!

    13. FIA needs to be careful here. If they sack Masi as a result of this single event, I think they will open a Pandora’s box. His successor will know that his job will be on the line if his decision goes against one of the big teams, as they will threaten to leave the sport. This is where Charlie was great. He was a dictator, he did what he thought was the right decision, without caring who is he going to upset. Masi and his approach to try and make everyone happy and have a diplomatic resolution has turned into chaos, with the ridiculous messages that were broadcasted of constant complaints, sent emails, negotiation for starting grid etc. F1 race direction needs a dictator that doesn’t care what teams, sponsors, owners or even fans think, but what is right for that particular situation.

      1. I totally agree. Masi and his diplomatic approach was completely ridiculous. Penalties and grid positions should never be negotiated with the teams and drivers. The other thing here is that if they sack Masi based on that one decision in Abu Dhabi then they are effectively saying that Max shouldn’t have won, and therefore shouldn’t be WDC.

      2. If they sack Masi as a result of this single event, I think they will open a Pandora’s box. His successor will know that his job will be on the line if his decision goes against one of the big teams, as they will threaten to leave the sport.

        Or maybe his successor will be scared to break the rules and hand advantages to one driver over all the others in future, and will instead actually follow the rules and act in a fair and consistent manner…

      3. His successor will know that his job will be on the line if his decision goes against one of the big teams, as they will threaten to leave the sport.

        Mercedes to be precise. RBR are always whining and lobbying. Ferrari are there to stay. Wolff and Hamilton are trying to create a drama by threatening that they will leave the sport unless Masi is sacked. So the next Race Director will be automatically biased towards Mercedes and have to have their blessing or he is risking his job. Hope anyone with a political power (Brawn for example) will call their bluff and stop this farce.

        1. Ferrari and Red Bull have both had regulations changed by threatening to walk away if they don’t get their way. I don’t think their threats are taken any less seriously than those of Mercedes. All big teams will use this threat on occasion, so it’s a little hypocritical to single Mercedes out.

          I believe Mercedes dropped it, not because they had done a deal or anything like that, but because the only real option if they won and proved the race director had broken the rules like this was to nullify the race result. That would not have altered the championship in favour of Mercedes or Lewis. This doesn’t mean they are happy about the decision or accept that it was right, and they are perfectly entitled to put pressure on the FIA to correct the rules and prevent such a farce from happening again, just as all teams are free to lobby for what they want.

          Had the situation been reversed, however, and Max had lost out in this manner, I’m pretty certain we would still be awaiting the result of Red Bull’s appeal. Nullification of the race result would, in that situation, change the championship in Max’s favour, and it would have been worth it for Red Bull to continue. Again, that would be perfectly within their rights to do.

        2. Biased is everyone, but don’t forget the whining, lobbying and framing Toto and his puppet Lewis did. Flappy wings new regulations (meantime the flappy front of the mb was never investigated, framing about the suddenly powerincrease of the honda (that even honda must do a pressconference), new pitstop rules etc etc. Rb can by complaining in your fantasy, but it is Toto that has the most influence in the paddock and fia. That the last race was completely opposite shows how shortsighted fans are

          1. don’t forget the whining, lobbying and framing Toto and his puppet Lewis did

            And RBR, Christian and Max did no “whining, lobbying and framing” at all…. 🙄

      4. F1 needs a dictator but not one who will execute his right to have final say in the usage of the SC?? Ok…

    14. If they are going to review the rules for Abu Dhabi then they should also look at Imola and Silverstone amongst others. Max gained a minimum amount of points on Lewis at Yas Marina compared to what Lewis gained at these tracks after his own errors. I think the red flag regs need refined, especially if we are in for some close racing in future. It wouldn’t be right that someone could win a championship after being gifted so many points like this.

      1. Oh look, another “fan” either forgetting that Hamilton DID get a penalty in Silverstone, or one of the nutcases who things the collision was deliberate…

        1. @fluxsource
          The penalty was a joke and if you want them to look thoroughly at Abu Dhabi, they also have to consider the 1st lap incident that almost decided the championship when Hamilton cut the corner and gained the first place that he lost in the last lap to Verstappen.

          1. @tifoso1989 The penalty was entirely consistent with a slight front wing/rear wheel contact. Unless you’re suggesting it was a deliberate collision, in which case there’s no help for you.

            Additionally, the incidents you’re talking about are stewards decisions – which is an entirely different matter that the Race Director not following the regulations. Someone being “gifted” points isn’t covered in the regulations. The safety car procedure is.

            1. @fluxsource

              The penalty was entirely consistent with a slight front wing/rear wheel contact

              Since it is consistent, can you mention one example of a slight front wing/rear wheel contact at +300 kph that caused a 51G or similar crash. If you think that all slight tyre contacts should be treated the same way then it’s pointless to proceed with the argument.

              As you mentioned the decision to penalise or not is the steward’s decision not the race director but you forgot that for the stewards to judge an incident, it has first to be referred to them by the race director which Masi didn’t in the case of Verstappen/Hamilton 1st lap incident in Abu Dhabi.

            2. can you mention one example of a slight front wing/rear wheel contact at +300 kph

              I am sure someone would be able to look that up, but…

              that caused a 51G or similar crash

              …this bit is irrelevant. The actions which led to the incident are considered by the stewards, not the results of it. The cause, not the effect. This was agreed by all teams years ago, and continues to be applied now.

            3. Check out Lewis’ similar pit manoeuvres on Albon in Austria and Brazil in the 2 years previous.

        2. @fluxsource – a penalty is a punishment. He still won the race and even said later he’d do it again. So no effect on the outcome and no deterrent against doing it again. So yeah, a pretty forgettable ‘penalty’ hey? And for the most cynical (and dangerous) punting I’ve ever seen.

          1. @asherway

            Cynical (and dangerous)

            You must have got confused and started talking about a different race, because we were talking about the incident at Silverstone in 2021.

          2. Examples of this can be seen throughout F1 history. Drivers are punished for their actions, but that punishment rarely makes a complete adjustment. In fact, we saw a blatant example earlier this year when Perez took a position off track, and was told he needed to give it back, but decide that he would rather take a 5s penalty because he would get more advantage than that.

            Unfortunately, it is not always possible to make that fair, especially if one party ends up DNFing as a result. That’s why everyone agreed that they would only look at the actions that led to an incident, not the result of it. If we want to start trying to nullify the result of an incident, we are going to get into some very muddy waters, with even less consistency and even more confusion all around.

        3. Oh look, another brit (or whatever fan you are) who thinks that if the opinion doesn’t suit him you must call those people ‘fan’ ( yeah, with the airbunnies’) cuze you must be the ‘real fan’? Reading your comment about the silverstone case I only see biased arrogance (and probably British arrogance). Sorry ‘mister real fan’, but your reaction and that of the mainly british F1 media is making the aversion about Lewis in the rest of the world only bigger and bigger.

      2. @G Changing red flag regs is unneeded.
        The only thing needed is not resorting to a race suspension unless absolutely necessary on safety grounds.

        1. Not fair to cause a crash (to your direct rival) and then benefit from the red flag to repair your car and gain 26 points. The title should have been won in Jeddah.

          1. Absolutely agree with this.

      3. You want them to look at Imola where Max punted Ham off at the second corner, or where Max; acting as the SC, decided to abandon the rules and leave the track completely?
        Oh sorry, I read it again. You are one of those who want long standing rules changed every time Ham benefits from them.
        Maybe they should alter the pole lap rules after SA where Ham gained because Max crashed. Perhaps they should award pole to Max as he was up on Hamilton when he forgot to turn left at the last corner?

    15. I think it’s pretty clear that the investigation is not about changing the outcome of last year but rather looking at the processes followed and deciding if that will be how it’s handled in future.

      IF the FIA come back and say that the way that race was managed in the last couple of laps is how the sport will continue for the future now then it makes a mockery of the sport. Mercedes might be the biggest complainer from Abu Dhabi but lets not forget how many drivers after Brazil found the decision not to even investigate Verstappen running Hamilton off the track. There have just been far too many issue of inconsistency and questionable calls made over the last 2 years that ultimately the end result is they have to look at if the sport is being managed fairly according to the rules.

      If the FIA decide that what happened was fair then I can’t see Mercedes staying in the sport too much longer or indeed Hamilton and that’s their right and prerogative to send such a statement out to the public.

      F1 has been made to look ridiculous over the finale and frankly if nothing changes as a result of this investigation there will be consequences. I think they know this so the question is what those changes might be and how far they’ll be willing to go to admit at least some fault on their part. I don’t think saying everything was fine but we think we could be more consistent is going to cut thee mustard personally.

      It’s worth highlighting that I’ve been calling for Masi’s head for 18 months so I’m not unbiased in terms of what I consider at least one of the actions should be.

      Personally I’d like to see the following:

      Masi to be replaced
      Guidelines that the safety car rules in their entirety will be followed irrespective of when the safety car is deployed and whether that will result in a safety car finish.
      The race director will no longer have the “right” to withdraw the safety car without following the outlined procedures in full.
      All incidents of cars leaving the track or any collisions will be sent to the steward for review so even in the event of no action taken, the incident can be properly appealed.
      The term “let them race” should be expunged from the sport and drivers should be penalised accordingly if they cannot follow the rules. If that means more penalties in the short term then so be it but they would soon learn to obey the rules if enforced consistently and correctly.

      Dream rule changes:

      Any car leaving the track with all 4 wheels in the race who does not lose time in doing so will receive a 5s time penalty irrespective of reason.
      If another car has to take avoiding action to avoid an accident then it will be treated as if an accident had occurred ad the car that had to be avoided will be penalised as per the penalty for causing a collision. Other drivers should not be punished for avoiding an accident because they didn’t take a contact.

      1. What about pushing off the track? I guess that’s what you mean with evasive action?

    16. including race director Michael Masi, stewards, drivers and team representatives.”

      I wonder if Lewis will make himself available for this one?

      1. Ahah, that’s a good one, I’d say so.

    17. Everyone here having serious discussions and I’m just chuckling at Lando accepting an award in his underwear.

      1. That is brilliant :D

      2. Haha, yes, that was very funny!

    18. Davethechicken
      13th January 2022, 15:58

      9 races with red flags since Masi took over ink ust 2 seasons. contrast that with 18 red flags in the previous 20 seasons!
      Stop the RD calling “sporting” Red flags please.

      1. Masi has to perform, “CYA” (cover your a$$). Given all the scrutiny and accountability not to mention the legal ramifications, he has to be overly thorough in everything with those Red Flag situations. Fixing barriers is no easy task and if he allowed them to “half-a$$” put it back together and another driver went off and landed in the same spot and died…..whose fault is it then?…..Masi

        Reply moderated
      2. don’t get me wrong…i completely see your point…
        the world is just getting more letigiously sensitive and this is the trickle down affect. :)

        Reply moderated
      3. F1’s changed a bit in 20 years, Dave. As have their (and general society’s) approaches to risk and safety.
        Not a single one of the 9 red flags has been called without appropriate safety justification.

        1. Davethechicken
          14th January 2022, 10:54

          I disagree s.
          The change came with the new RD. Some red flags like Grosjeans crash and Spa were fine. Others not.
          In terms of only for safety for example, Baku last year was most definitely a sporting decision. The race could very safely have finished behind the SC at low speeds. There was only 2 or 3 laps. In the highly unlikely event a tyre had failed behind the SC it wasnt at all likely to lead to any serious safety concerns.
          Indeed restarting the race from a standing start with 3 laps to go was more likely to produce a serious crash than tootling along behind the SC.

    19. Well if any one cares about new manufacturers coming in….it will be very interesting to see how FIA keep VAG from basically doubling their scale economies by running two identical engine programs or sharing data at a high level. I know they went different ways in WEC for a moment but in f1 they are not just up against each other.

    20. This all looks like Mercedes holding Lewis hostage, until sufficient way is given by FIA.

      I wonder if they will get a red telephone, to call new more favourable director, whe they need safety car to stay out.

      I really want to see the final report. Truth is easy to explain… But to spin it correctly will take months.

      New President does not want to mess this up, and everyone else at FIA are competent enough to have caused this mess in the first place.

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