Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Yas Marina, 2021

FIA’s sweeping changes vindicate Mercedes’ belief Hamilton was “robbed” of title

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The FIA’s decision to replace Formula 1 race director Michael Masi, and the announcement of sweeping changes to officiating in the sport, shows what the governing body intends to do about the controversy sparked by last year’s title-deciding race in Abu Dhabi.

However it has not shed light on the analysis which led to the changes. Crucially, it hasn’t explained what went wrong or who was responsible.

It was never likely to, for obvious reasons. Were the FIA to acknowledge mistakes were made in the handling of the final-lap restart, which changed the outcome of the world championship, it would cast doubt on the validity of the result.

Mercedes launched a protest immediately after Lewis Hamilton lost the championship on the final lap. The team pointed out the long-established procedure for restarting a race after a Safety Car period had not been followed and that the protocol for allowing lapped cars to re-join the lead lap had been changed.

Their complaints were rejected on the day, and Max Verstappen confirmed as race winner and world champion. But 67 days later the FIA has announced sweeping changes to the future management of race control, including the replacement of the person who took the contested decisions. The move leaves little room for doubt that the complaints of Mercedes, which were dismissed by the stewards in Abu Dhabi, ultimately carried some weight.

Masi decided to bring the Safety Car in a lap earlier than required by the rules. The FIA said today it will create a Virtual Race Control Room to “help to apply the sporting regulations” correctly in future.

Masi chose to allow only the drivers between Hamilton and Verstappen to un-lap themselves, in a break with convention which contradicted his own words of a year earlier. The FIA has said the “un-lapping procedures behind safety car will be reassessed.”

Finally, Masi himself is being replaced. In short, while the FIA has not said what went wrong or who was responsible, it has announced it will revise the relevant procedures and replace the person who took the decisions.

You don’t have to look hard to read between the lines here. If the FIA believed its rules were enforced correctly in Abu Dhabi it is hard to imagine it would make such sweeping changes which touch upon every point of dispute which arose from the championship-deciding race.

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It gives a strong impression the FIA, under the new leadership of Mohammed Ben Sulayem, has accepted the season finale was mishandled – with over 100 million people watching.

Mercedes were certain they would have won an appeal over the race had they proceeded with one (a view shared by others). They only chose not to, according to team principal Toto Wolff, because the FIA’s appeal system offered no way for Hamilton to be awarded the title retrospectively.

In the aftermath of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Wolff said Masi’s decisions “robbed Lewis Hamilton of a deserved world championship”. The sweeping changes being made to race control in response to last year’s controversy vindicate that view.

There was never any possibility that the FIA’s inquiry over Abu Dhabi would result in a change to the outcome of last year’s world championship. But as the wait for the outcome of its analysis dragged on for more than two months, it became clear many felt frustrated by the unjust and unfitting end to a season which had been one of F1’s most competitive for many years.

As many observed in the aftermath of the race, both Hamilton and Verstappen had demonstrated over the course of 2021 that they would make worthy champions. It wasn’t the fault of either driver that the championship was decided in such an unworthy fashion.

F1 has seen acrimonious conclusions to championships before. Ironically, Masi showed his sensitivity to that possibility by indirectly reminding the title contenders not to collide with each other on the eve of the finale.

In the end it wasn’t either of the competitors who triggered the controversy, but the race director himself. That is partly what has made this such a difficult problem to resolve.

But the scale of the changes the FIA has made reflect an acceptance that last season went badly wrong and it cannot be allowed to happen again. Today’s announcement gives F1 the chance to put an end to the acrimony and enter its radical new era of technical regulations with renewed optimism that we may all enjoy a season of great racing which is both exciting and fair until the final lap.

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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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180 comments on “FIA’s sweeping changes vindicate Mercedes’ belief Hamilton was “robbed” of title”

  1. Mr Ben Sulayem has set a precedent that will haunt F1 for years to come.

    1. What that if a race director proves to be consistently incompetent, and doesn’t follow the rules that they should then be replaced?

      I’m okay with that precedent. By all means let it haunt F1 forever.

      1. What that if a race director proves to be consistently incompetent, and doesn’t follow the rules that they should then be replaced?

        If that were the case, Mr Masi wouldn’t have made it through 2019.

      2. Sincerely, prior to AD, there was plenty of reason to replace Masi or at least to chance his mandate on how to run the races. The mess in the final race was just the 100 ton oak tree that broke the camel’s back.

    2. I guess the RD set the precedent by braking the rules and manipulating the WDC. FIA now just cleaned up the mess.

      1. …by braking the rules…

        Thank goodness they didn’t break anything. Seriously, can’t we just get over this stuff? What’s done is done, a new season approaches. Time to move on.

        1. lol. nice typo…

    3. Completely agree. Newbie mistake that will set a harmful precedent no matter who replaces Masi.

      BTW under those conditions who would want to take over?

  2. What a travesty Abu Dhabi was. It’s good to see the FIA getting probably about as close as they are going to in admitting it was a sham.

    Aside from giving us pretty much now officially an illegitimate WDC*, it’s taken a great deal of enthusiasm about the future of the sport from many of us oldtimers.

    1. It was a travesty, and they’re still dodging the issue that the stewards were supposed to be there as a backstop, and they abjectly failed to do their job, including the driver steward.

    2. I disagree. They have not admitted anything or apologised for anything. Again we see leaders having different rules than everyone else. Remember Horner has had to apologise for bringing the sport in to disrepute and has had to carry out a punishment for comments he made regarding a marshal (And it is right that he did have to apologise and be punished). However the FIA themselves bring the sport into more disrepute than any driver or team member ever has and yet they refuse to apologise or punish themselves. Masi has been their scapegoat as although it was him that made that ridiculous decision, it was made due to the culture of the FIA.

  3. I don’t think the changes of personnel or the introduction of an additional layer of race control really solves the fundamental issues.

    Firstly, the lack of clarity in the regulations, which simultaneously allowed people to point out various ways in which they might have been broken, and also for the stewards to rule that they had all been appropriately followed. And secondly, the tension between “sport” and “show” that put Masi under such pressure to enable a green-flag finish in the first place.

    Obviously we don’t know the full details, as Keith is at pains to point out here. But it feels like a missed opportunity to engage with some of the bigger contradictions within F1 at the moment.

    1. @red-andy

      Firstly, the lack of clarity in the regulations, which simultaneously allowed people to point out various ways in which they might have been broken, and also for the stewards to rule that they had all been appropriately followed.

      The stewards didn’t explain their ruling in any way though. I think they were just trying to save the situation somehow, since they couldn’t alter the result of the race.

      The regulations had never before been interpreted the way Masi did in Abu Dhabi. Masi himself said in 2020 that he couldn’t overrule the safety car procedure in that way.

      I think the “lack of clarity” was rather fabricated in this instance.

    2. I would hope their review of the restart / ending of a SC procedures would adress the issue of the rules being unclear @red-andy. And I do think that some of the steps they announced (race control team, communications as well as having 2 people doing the season) will help bolster race control to make better decisions and avoid the mistake (and the ones later made to then compensate and go wrong in the other direction) we’ve been seeing only too often in the last years.

      As for Masi himself, i could see him not even feeling too inclined to continue. And given that they now more or less admit 23 races is too much for one person, I can see how he would just be totally burnt out by the end of the year, especially as it was combined with overseeing new tracks, updates, etc. as well.

    3. While in many regulations there is a lot of vagueness the safety car rules are not included. The rules regarding the restart of the race are very very clear and have been very clear for some time. We see many race restarts after safety car periods and we always see the rules adhered to perfectly fine. The question that needs answering is why on this occasion did the race controller decide the rules were not to be followed? Yes teams have pushed for races to end under race conditions but I am sure that was always meant to be as long as the rules allowed the race to end that way. Those discussions were simply that and did not override the rules set in place and understood by all teams.

      So we are no closer to understanding why the rules were broken and no answer as to how (given that the FIA seemed to try to say the rules were up to the race director…) that the rules will not be broken in future.

  4. Hopefully these changes in 2022 for race control, means we will never have a final race being so controversial. LH had the car that day and wasn’t going to be denied unless Masi made his one off call.

    Let’s get the 2022 cars on track and see if the FIA will be consistent in application of the rules.

  5. Vindicates me having another watch of how it all unfolded.

  6. Removing the teams communication to the race director is very important so I’m glad they’ve done that. If they punish teams for how they talk to race control that’d be nice as well, as some of last years was bordering on offensive, but at least there being a barrier will help.

    I’m not sure about rotating between 2 people as race director though, as it’ll make it even harder to be consistent with decisions. I also think they should have put in a regulation to deal with the late accident scenario (such as a safety car ban in the last X laps, no releasing of lapped cars with X laps to go, etc.).

    I hope Masi isn’t totally alienated though, even though IMO he made mistake(s) in the final race I think over the season he actually did much better than people give him credit for.

    1. I also think they should have put in a regulation to deal with the late accident scenario

      It would be nice if they said no unlapping if the safety car is called with less than 10 laps.
      Personally I wish they did away with the unlapping entirely.
      If they absolutely desperately want to end under green, then they need a simple if less than x laps = red flag. Restart min 2 laps. And never a 1 lap shoot out of any type ever again!

      1. Personally I wish they did away with the unlapping entirely.
        Totally agree.
        Under SC the chasing car already gets the bonus in closing the gap to the car in front, so why ‘FFS‘ should it get another bonus. The car in front would have lost time in having to negotiate any cars in lapping, so why does a chasing car get a freebie.
        Surely the basic aim should [a la VSC] to place cars in as close as possible to the conditions prior to the SC, including closing the pitlane, unless it is a safety issue!!!

      2. Carlos was right when he said the race should have been red flagged when the Williams crashed. Then Hamilton and Verstappen would both restart on fresh tyres. In a case when five laps or less to the end of the race use the red flag. Stop the clock and when the mess is cleaned up restart the race with the final five laps or what ever.

        1. I agree. Although I also think that there is nothing wrong necessarily with finishing under a SC if the number of laps do not allow a proper race to restart. For instance in Abu Dhabi the fairest outcome for all drivers was to finish under SC and the rules allowed that to happen. What the rules did not allow was to do what we actually ended up with…

          Even Red Bull could not have legitimately argued with the result if it had ended under a SC. Verstappen was miles behind Hamilton and had almost zero chance of winning the race.

    2. I think the communication of the team leaders is removed with the RC Director not the teams communication person so team can still have a link to RC.

    3. I think that as @macleod mentions there WILL still be a channel for communications from the team to race control. But it will be limited to designated personell, and probably go through that race control team instead of straight to the race leader. And it won’t be the team bosses doing it.

      As for the 2 people for the whole season, it kind of indicates to me that Masi himself might have felt pretty burnt out by doing a 20+ race season and it seems a solid move to me to spread that load in the future to avoid it. And with a bigger team, I can actually see a scope for MORE consistency, because they will have their small team to talk things through and agree, instead of 1 person having to make the call after being overloaded with various comments from all the teams, drivers and media.

      1. Oh, sorry, I forgot to include your alias there @mysticarl and I’ll ad @eurobrun as well – They are saying that they will look at the procedures for ending a SC etc, so that might still come.

      2. @bascb lets hope because that was 1 of the problems

        1. Indeed it was, yeah.

  7. As a die hard LH fan I am not disappointed that Max one nor do I think he should lose the WDC as he is a worthy champion. Further, had either driver not left so many points on the table over the course of the season the championship would not have been in the position it was in at the last race. All I wanted was for Masi to be held accountable for his actions. It amazed me that people thought he should not be held accountable for influencing the outcome of the championship with an incorrect interpretation of the rules. Speaking for my self I am please and am moving on/forward.

    1. 100% agree!

    2. Agree with this. Having supported Verstappen for most of the season, his interesting driving in Brazil and Saudi made me go into the final race as a neutral (maybe very slightly leaning more towards Lewis) honestly not minding who won. I have no problem with Verstappen winning. I do have a problem with the manner it was won, and that is not against Verstappen, it is with Masi. As someone pointed out below, I don’t think this is a case of driver vs driver, it is a case of sporting fairness against the show.

      1. True story…..

        Unfortunately, for all concerned actually. Though Max and Red Bull are elated to have won the Championship, I doubt that they realize the magnitude of the push-back they will be facing going forward. I’m sure they would say they don’t care, it is what it is, and they did nothing wrong. Which is all correct, but it is also true that historically the 2021 World Driver’s Championship will always have an asterisk by it. And, anyone mentioning Max as Champion will need to deal with….The Finish. I can even imagine a day might come when our present Champion wished he had flatly refused to accept the outcome, and then instead of being The Pretender, he would be viewed as one of the greatest sportsman in F1 history. Sad, an opportunity missed.

        1. @theroswellite Agree. I accept Max as 2021 World Champion. I don’t like how it finished, or some of his driving near the end of the season, but it’s the official result so I choose to accept that. However, as I’ve put below, I hope I’ll be able to equally remember both the terrific fight Hamilton gave, and the unfortunate conclusion. And I think that is slightly unfair on Max (obviously it’s extremely unfair on Lewis), because, regardless of the some of the earlier incidents, no one deserves to win a championship in those circumstances. And equally, I don’t blame him for celebrating. He has won the World championship, I don’t think you can hold that against him (equally I had nothing wrong with Lewis celebrating in Silverstone), and I’m pretyy sure , being honest with myself, I would probably have reacted the same in the unlikely event I was ever in the same position (Lewis conduct after the race was also extremely commendable I’ll add).

        2. @theroswellite

          the 2021 World Driver’s Championship will always have an asterisk by it

          It sure does feel that way now (to me as well), but I am not sure that it will always be like that. Schumacher, Senna, Prost, all won a championship in controversial circumstances, but only few of us will always remember the asterisk. Prost won the championship in 1989 in equally controversial circumstances as Max last year (and lost it in controversial circumstances the next year btw), but how many people put an asterisk to Prosts title?

          1. I’d say everyone who watched F1 back then, but the blindest biased fans. Same with Schumacher ’94. Of course younger ones who started to watch F1 later mostly dont build up that opinion, which is quite natural and fine.

            Those who watched this season will probably forever remember the circumstances of this paper WDC.

  8. Remember that Spa was a farce as well.

    Charlie was a hard act to follow. Masi never accumulated the credibility to resist external pressures and teams took advantage. The remote ‘VAR’ system will hopefully be less prone to such influences.

    1. @scalextric I think one important moment in this saga actually comes months earlier in Spa. Do you remember RB asking if Perez could rejoin the race during the first red flag (after repairs had been made to his car following his crash on the way to the grid), and Masi responding, before Wheatley had even answered the question, “Jonathon, I know what you’re asking and the answer is no” (or words to that effect), only to be overruled (probably correctly) by the stewards because the first laps behind the SC were counted as formation laps, and the race therefore hadn’t officially “started”? I think that was a key moment in this whole thing, because it showed Masi couldn’t always apply the sporting regs in the correct manner. After that, I don’t find it particularly surprising that things all went downhill.

  9. No more robbed than Max would have been had Lewis won. In fact, nowhere near. To be at the last race level on points with 3 more DNF’s to your name shows he was the better driver over the season. It’s very short sighted to just focus on Abu Dhabi where Max gained 1 place through a bit of overdue luck. Bahrain was a long time ago, if the track limits had been consistent and not changed halfway through, then Max would only have needed 2nd in Abu Dhabi anyway.

    1. I somewhat agree but Max’s unpunished off-track excursion in Brazil definitely caused people to believe that F1 was helping Max in the WDC. And then at the last race, Masi states there will be no unlapping and then reversed minutes later. Overdue luck is one thing, but Max was bailed out down the stretch.

      1. I agree he crossed the line at Brazil and although the drama at Abu Dhabi was amazing to watch, it should never have got that close. A hell of a lot went in Lewis’ favour to get there with a chance.
        Max is an aggressive driver by nature like Lewis, but I still think that got turned up a few notches after the shunt at Silverstone. It will be interesting to see if he reels that in this season.

        1. If he crossed a line in Brazil, he crossed a whole bunch of them in Saudi.

      2. @jimfromus

        And then at the last race,

        Lewis was allowed to cut the chicane. Something that conveniently gets ignored a lot.

    2. I think it’s healthier to not see this as about Hamilton and Verstappen, but about the ‘sport’ itself. What happened in Abu Dhabi was completely inexcusable, it doesn’t matter much which drivers were involved.

      1. That is true, but to say that inconsistencies by race control all went in Verstappens favour to win the title and that Hamilton was robbed is wrong IMO. I feel bad for Masi and feel he deserved more time with additional support and a barrier between him and the team managers.

        1. Strange comment as is your previous one.

          Much of what you indicate are the normal ups and downs and sharing of ‘luck’ pretty consistent with most racing seasons.

          To suggest that for example ignoring the blatant move in Brazil, the astounding lack of any meaningful penalties in Jedda (where by normal standards Max should have lost the championship or at the very least have been behind LH) were anything other than absolute ‘assists’ seems naive.

          Particularly as the last decision to ignore the rule book, invent a new procedure offered up by the ever helpful RB team in the final few laps, specifically awarded a race and thus championship winning certainty to Max whom until that point was being thoroughly beaten.

  10. The announcement came just in time for the Netflix editors to add it to the final episode of this coming season, mark my words!

  11. “The FIA has said the “un-lapping procedures behind safety car will be reassessed.””
    It will be interesting to see if the new procedure will be to unlap all cars properly regardless of the number of laps remaining and extend the race accordingly. This of course can cause a race to be extended over and over if incidents occur on the restarts.

    1. @jimfromus I don’t think that would work in F1 because of fuelling. The cars are fuelled to run a set distance, extending that distance would therefore be very difficult. It works (kind of) in NASCAR because they have refuelling, and again, kind of works in Formula E because of how the regeneration works. It would either require them to re-introduce refuelling (which is a separate debate entirely) or add even more fuel to the current cars (which are already very heavy).

    2. I don’t think races can be extended as refueling is banned.

      I think the re-assessment would mean that there will be more red flags than safety cars if an incident occurs towards the end of the race.

    3. I wish they do that as behind a safetycar they use much less fuel. But they could start unlapping much faster then waiting untill the incident is removed by releasing laped cars as soon as possible with double yellows at the incident spot.
      But they don’t have to wait to end untill the unlapped cars are back to the pack.

      The problem is more if there is no laps left like 2-3 laps for the end they should red flag the race as otherwise end the race under safety car but no tyres change for that situation.

  12. The term ‘robbed’ makes this unnecessarily emotional, and pretty much guarantees that the already polarized fanbase will just see the matter on the basis of which driver they’re supporting. Here’s how to state it neutrally: The rules and guidance given to the race director were in conflict, and the race director resolved this conflict by ignoring the rules, presumably because he was under too much pressure. Hamilton lost 7 points to circumstances beyond his control.

    1. The clicks, you know…

      In the end this is a british tabloid F1 site.

      Independence & impartiality not really important values.

    2. The was no conflicting rules at all, Masi just got pressured by Red Bull. If he had ended it under the safety car, he will still be in his job.Not to end a race under safety car was not a rule but a desired end

    3. @aesto There’s a big green word under the title called Comment at the top of the page. This is not a news article. This is an opinion.
      The news article is already posted Here.

      Look around, don’t jump to conclusions all riled up and upset. Calm down.

  13. I agree with the title. I am not the fan of either, even more Hamilton got a notch even below when he started politicising. He seems not have cared one iota by the growth in US crime so after grandstanding it was all dishonest…
    But he should have been the champion.

  14. I think this is encouraging, although the next very important change that is required is the scrapping of the ridiculous agreement that the race should finish under green flags if at all possible. The FIA were never going to actively admit that Abu Dhabi was a farce but acting as though it was is the next best thing.

    I don’t know much about the replacements, but have heard good things about Eduardo Freitas and while the DTM finale was worse than the Formula 1 one that was not the fault of the race director.

    It’s too soon to know for sure, but it looks like Mohammed Ben Sulayem doesn’t want F1 to become a show before a sport, which is an encouraging sign for the future.

    1. @f1frog they also need to change the rule or void the interpretation that the race director can ignore large swathes of the rulebook whenever he wants.

      Changing the rules, adding “within the regulations” to the final 2 points of 15.3 would be the least embarrassing, IMHO. It accepts that the rules as they were written were followed correctly, but that they should be changed to prevent future controversy.

      They could also publicly clarify that 15.3 should not be used to allow the race director to ignore the written procedures. However, this would be an admission that both Masi and the stewards wrongly interpreted the rules say Abu Dhabi, which would be more embarrassing to the FIA.

      There may be a better way to deal with it, but this unrestricted power must go.

  15. The correct decision to replace him…I had no favourite to win the title and wanted a fair outcome, and that never happened. Masi should never work in F1 again, although I am sure Red Bull would find him something

  16. I would like to know the role of Jean Todt in all this. We know he had multiple meetings with Masi and Masi seemed mesmerised by needing to ensure a good ‘show’. We know too that FIA Presidents in the past have used various jobs in F1 to reward their supporters and in the case of one notorious President, to sabotage a driver’s chances of a championship.

    The secrecy of the FIA and its sub-units is notorious. Stewards supporting the RD without thinking, stewards not explaining their decisions. Sometimes Masi must have been in torment being pressed from the FIA and Liberty, by team principals and drivers simultaneously without the natural authority Charlie Whiting had to fend them all off.

    But my sympathy does not extend to thinking Masi should keep his job. He made too many mistakes while RD in the last and previous seasons. He has lost credibility and credibility is essential if the teams and drivers are to respect the RD and trust in consistent application of the rules.

    He is not the only one at fault and I hope some of the current stewards are ‘sacked’ as well. The top of the FIA is new and Liberty needs reining in. The FIA has given them too much rope. They should not be setting rules for cars or races. That is not their role.

    So there is an opportunity for something of a clean sweep of officials and a new transparent governance of F1 where racing is king not the ‘show’- a good show will come with good fair racing.

    1. I’ve wondered quite a bit about how the outcome of this inquiry may have been different if the Todt administration (or the Stoker administration billed as the continuation candidate for the Todt era) had been conducting it. Obviously there’s a bit of FIA integrity protection going on here, but at the same time, I think this outcome has been a bit more than quite a few, nyself included, expected. I doubt we would have had the same result had the Todt/Stoker administration been writing the report, because here at least Ben Sulayem is a little bit more independent (i.e. he’s still marking the FIA’s homework, but at least it’s a different administration’s homework). More of a peer review than a self assessment.

  17. IMHO the very rule that the lapped cars should pass the leader to return to the back of the peloton is fundamentally wrong. They just should slow down and line up near the kerb on the straight while the big boys pass by and start racing instead of these stupid laps behind the SC waiting for all the losers burn all those fuel (killing the green agenda, where are you, Greta?) on needless and inexplicable laps…

  18. I hope I don’t sound like a sour pessimist or a conspiracy thinker too much, but I have seen too much inquiries coming to the desired conclusion that I feel this was always to happen. My theory is that FIA and Mercedes had a talk to the extent of “drop the appeal Toto, and we’ll take care of Masi”.

  19. Max won because of his performance across the entire season, not a single race.

    Ham didn’t deserve the championship and history will show that.

    1. The season came down to a single race which was then stolen. It’s as simple as that. Nothing like deserve this, deserve that.

      1. Yeah and it came down to that last race because Max was punted off by a Mercedes in Hungary and Silverstone. Blah blah…..

        It’s been done to death. You win a season by accumulating the most points over a season – not like in America where there is a playoff system.

        They were both extremely close on points so either would have deserved to be Champion.

        1. Something else that’s been done to death Pete: pointing out that none of those on-track incidents (Silverstone, Hungary etc) is remotely comparable to the Race Director blatantly violating written procedures in the one race where such manipulation would seal the championship in favour of one of the contenders.

          1. There was no manipulation. Masi tried to create a race and stretched the rules to the limit to do so.
            But the real decision was already made when Latifi crashed and Mercedes did not pit.
            They had 9 corners for that decision and took the wrong gamble.
            That is the only reason why Lewis was unable to fight off max during that last lap.
            That was the moment the wdc was decided.
            Masi only created the circumstances and lewis was in the lead on restart in the last lap.

        2. So if we have another season like the last and the roles are reversed at the final race, you will have no problem with the RD going rogue with the rules and handing the WDC to Ham ‘because it’s his turn’?

          1. If the director accidentally creates a situation, in order to have a race to the end, which coincidentally balances out the luck across the season, I don’t see why not.

    2. Max obviously won by the RD braking the rules.

  20. This is why you should never give an inch to a mob. They’ll asked for a far unreasonable demand. Even if Masi killed himself they’ll asked his dead body to be paraded.

    1. Well that’s a little bit melodromatic

  21. HERE LIES:

    MICHAEL MASI

    “It’s called racing, Toto”

    1. “Sorry !” :)

    2. Oh man, that’s harsh. However, do think the quote was “It’s called a motor race.”

      When I heard him say that, I knew that it might not end well for him. It showed he could not defend his decision based on the rules, or that he was not interested in doing so.

      1. Agree, being brutal against toto is suicide in F1.

      2. Poor guy, he was only trying to give the teams and fans what they wanted! A race to the flag.

        1. That is absolutely none of his concern.

          His role was to implement the racing rules and procedures safely at all times regardless of where the chips fell and regardless of the race ending under SC procedures.

          No one was screaming in 2012 – where exactly did this sudden RD involvement in the ‘show’ and the ‘let them race’ mantra make it into the rifle book.

          To all intents and purposes Masi made the show by being the show.

          We should barely ever have heard from him!

          1. Rifle – rule

            Or maybe not 😄

        2. Poor guy, he was only trying to give the teams and fans what they wanted! A race to the flag.
          It is not unreasonable to believe that is what the majority of people wanted.
          The issue is how he did it, particularly to the unbiased people.

  22. Good, there were enough reason to sack him even before the race fiasco. Especially the way he were nonchalantly handling any security concerns/incidents.

  23. Michael Masi is ultimate cheat in F1. He destroyed people’s faith in F1.
    Shocking that he is still kept in FIA team. FIA embarass themselves! Or FIA just have to keep him otherwise he will tell about even bigger cheating within FIA?

    1. What are you going to do instead of watching F1 this year? Loads of free time at the weekends!

      1. I might just make caricatures of Michael Masi and FIA in my free time. :)

        1. You do know you already promised us several times never to return here…
          But i would miss the forum jokes so please stay!

  24. While I think it is a reasonable interpretation of the announcement that Mercedes’ view was vindicated, I think it shows more broadly that the FIA realized that there are even larger systemic issues with the Race Director role in general.

    If they were just looking at the end of Abu Dhabi, as the title of the investigation would suggest, I don’t think they would be adding the VAR-style offsite evaluations. But I think they saw the number of mistakes that Masi and the Stewards made throughout his tenure as Race Director and saw that there needed to be more oversight of the refereeing. I am really happy they came to this conclusion but it only solves part of the problem. VAR retroactively fixing bad calls by the Stewards or Race Director should be secondary to providing better training to the Stewards and ensuring that the Race Director (whoever they may be) is not empowered through ambiguous rules to prioritize the Show over sporting integrity.

    As noted above, F1 doesn’t stop like football does when VAR is happening. There may be a lasting advantage for someone while VAR is reviewing the incident and rectifying the call may produce even more of a mess than the original incident would have generated. So it is imperative that VAR be the last option and the calls are made correctly to start with.

  25. It’s worth to mention that Hamilton and Mercedes have equally benefited from Masi/stewards incompetence throughout the year for example in Bahrain, Silverstone and amusingly in Abu Dhabi (first lap incident) that brought them into a championship winning position. Verstappen has been the superior driver in 2021, period.

    1. Verstappen has been the superior driver in 2021, period.

      Maybe that was what Masi was thinking when he made that call… Or did Wheatley remind him as well ?

      Perceived superiority would only matter if the winner were to be chosen by a vote.

    2. His antics in KSA should have had him sit out a race. The last race ironically overshadowed that shambles in the retelling of the season.

      1. +1
        Saudi, for me was just farcical. Max’s driving was a disgrace. The only thing poorer than his driving ethics that day was the spineless enforcement of rules.
        That was the low of the season for me, and Abu Dhabi pales in comparison. The safety care is always unfair but what was tolerated by the stewards and RD in Saudi, I have never witnessed before in almost 25years of GP viewing.

        1. This is my first comment on RaceFans and I’m glad someone finds Saudi as disgraceful as I. Max should have been disqualified from Saudi from a telemetry proven brake check. No ifs, buts, or excuses. Immediate disqualification for dangerous driving. I’ve been watching F1 since 94 and it is one of the worst incidents of road rage in that time.

        2. Just a harmless brake test at some non-dangerous location. Something for which half the field would have lost their license, but you cant punish the wonderboy…

      2. @dmw
        I didn’t say that Verstappen didn’t benefit from Masi/steward incompetence. That was obvious as you mentioned in Saudi Arabia and Brazil too. I was reminding the people that are only focusing on the last lap incident in Abu Dhabi that Hamilton was in that position thanks to Masi and the stewards who made questionable calls in his favour and in that race too.

  26. Of course many teams and drivers must have lost their trust in Masi’s integrity after what happened in Abu Dhabi. This trust is mandatory for a RD, so it was absolutely necessary that he leaves.

  27. Red bull know masi helped them to win in Abu Dhabi breaking the rules

  28. +1
    And to all the people saying last year was like WWE, Silverstone was the equivalent of sneaking up behind someone and cracking them over the head with a fold up chair to win.

    1. Silverstone was Verstappens fault to not respect the car alongside and turn in, like it wasnt there. WWE was f.e. Monza, Brazil, Jeddah.

        1. Hanilton was much further alongside verstappen than he was with leclerc. He was less than a wheel behind, but with leclerc Hamilton was only with his front wheel reaching leclercs rear wheel. Ver simply left not enough space. Almost aimed for the apex with a car completely alongside him. Max had just as much blame if not more considering Hamilton was alongside on the inside.

    2. Sneak? Max tried to block the inside of Copse after making a complete hash of Luffield , Ham then dummied Max which led Max to leave the door wide open. Max must of been the only one of the 100,000 or so there that day who didn’t see that one coming.

      1. Not sneak… Hamilton used his signature move on Verstappen and changed the style of the championship from that moment on.

        1. Glad to see you also disagree with G.
          But you have a different take. You are saying Max having closed the door, then deliberately decide to open it again, even though he knew Ham would accept the invitation?
          I do agree from that moment on it changed the style of the championship though. For the first half of the season all we had heard from Max and the RB camp was ‘get out of Max’s way or crash’. Didn’t hear to much of it from Silverstone onwards from them.

          1. Why answering?
            You made up all the things ” I agree to or told you”
            :)
            People with a serious lack for arguments often do this. So it obviously is not strange to you.

  29. Whether or not Masi followed the rules does not matter in regard to this decision. His position was already tainted regardless of the outcome.

    Every decision he would make would be under inmense scrutineering, so it is only logical that the new FIA president wanted a clean slate.

    Besides, it was bound to happen any time soon, to my knowledge. Masi had worked together with Whiting to set up a new structure for the Race Director function. His untimely death delayed that somewhat, but this situation seemed to have accelerated the implementation of that structure again.

  30. While the actions taken by the FIA may help with future races, it does not address the AD race and ultimate result, I want to know what they will do to address AD. I have seen a number of post that state that Max deserves the title because he drove well across the season, unfortunately that is not how the tittle is decided, if he was not able to claim the title before the last race, whoever has the most points at the end of the season wins. We all know how that ended, that is why his title will always have an (*)

    1. I doubt much will/can be done about the AD result. Merc have exhausted all their appeal options (or chosen not to take them up), and without taking it to a much more senior, actual court, I doubt there will be much they can do anyway. The FIA always seem reluctant to change things in retrospect anyway. Alonso still has his 2008 Singapore win, and Schumacher kept his wins from 1997 despite being disqualified from the championship standings.

      As for me, I accept Verstappen is champion. I don’t like how it was decided, but I accept what the record books will say (in the same way I accept Alonso as the winner in Singapore in 2008, and Hamilton as the winner in Canada in 2019, although that second one is a slightly different circumstance). However, I hope I also remember the incredible fight both drivers put in throughout the season, and the circumstances that lead to it’s conclusion.

    2. Referee made a mistake. In most sports referee’s errors are accepted as part and parcel of the game. It just needs FIA to be a bit more straight forward about admitting it and it did not need a lengthy commission to do so. If Masi had admitted his mistake shortly afterwards then It would have been better to have retained him as he would have gained from his experience.

  31. Well, that’s gone as expected, so now we wait to see how the new rules and structure work out on track in regard to dangerous driving and the ‘let them race’ nonsense.

    1. But that’s the confusing part there hasn’t been any clarifications on letting them race and the dangerous driving..

  32. Essentially the only outcome. Masi and the FIA made a farce of the finale. The drivers and fans deserved better.

  33. Unofficially (in my head and that of many others) Hamilton has 8 titles, Verstappen 0.
    FIA have indirectly (unofficially) confirmed that calculation is correct.
    Official is official though.
    Now for 2022.

    1. We already know who is living in your head rent free ;)
      The simple fact is Verstappen passed lewis fair on track and won his first WDC.
      Both drivers had nothing to dou with that last decision by the RD.
      so his first well deserved WDC
      Probably not his last.
      The number two is forgotten in a years time as is always the case after some time.

      1. ‘The simple fact is Verstappen passed lewis fair on track ‘

        If you sincerely believe this, you’re demonstrating you completely failed to understand what you watched.

        1. I watched a race. If you have some knowledge of f1, you know a late sc always turns it around.
          Lewis knew it the instant latifi crashed.

          1. I’ve watched every F1 race since the mid-1970s. Abu Dhabi 2021 was, aside from accidents, the worst day for the sport I’ve witnessed. It’s incomprehensible that it could be considered acceptable by anyone who understands the sport. Or any sport.

            Any talk of it being purely down to bad luck on Hamilton’s part which can happen with any safety car is gaslighting. Had the rules been followed, Hamilton would have won. It’s that simple.

          2. @paulguitar +1

            well said. although the likes of erik will always see it through their orange glasses.

        2. The pass itself was fair. I think most people can agree on that. Opportunistic perhaps, but fair.

          The circumstances that lead to it, in my opinion, we’re not fair.

          1. Was it really fair though. Same as Brazil and Jeddah. The only reason max and Lewis didn’t have a dozen crashes last year’s was due to Lewis. Twice in AD Lewis avoided a collision with a wreckless max. Opportunistic quickly becomes reckless. Not only did max make key mistakes at the end of the season (which people like to forget) he also drove very dirty. These two fact at minimum cancel out or balance out Baku and Hungary. As has been stated above, any other driver acting as max did in Jeddah would have been dealt with far more severely…

          2. Maybe fair isn’t the best way to describe it, but it was certainly legal. He stayed on the track, Lewis stayed on the track, and no contact was made. Had any of those not been true, especially the contact, I think at that point you could start having discussions. But I don’t think the move from Max was illegal. Opportunistic? definitely. Reckless? I can definitely see the argument for that. But from my understanding, it didn’t break any rules. I was more annoyed about him weaving along the straight afterwards to be honest.

      2. Yes of course, nobody disputes the simple fact that that is what Verstappen did. But few people are simple enough not to have noticed all the other facts which led to that happening

      3. We already know who is living in your head rent free ;)

        I have a thriving community of people living in my head rent free! :O)
        However Max isn’t one of them.

        1. You fool yourself. But looking at your other story’s I seem to tell according to you it fits :)

    2. @david-br I agree to an extent. I accept official as official. I don’t necessarily like it, but I accept it. Equally, I accept Alonso as the winner in Singapore in 2008, Schumacher as the 1994 champion and Hamilton as the winner in Canada in 2019 (and I have quite a few friends who still see this as Vettel’s win).

      As a result, I accept Verstappen as the winner of 2021. I don’t like the way it was decided (and disapprove of quite a bit of his driving later on on the season), but I accept what the records say. However, I hope that I’ll also be able to remember the tremendous battle Hamilton provided, and the circumstances surrounding the decider.

      1. I personally see vettel as a winner in canada 2019, and you know I’m very critical of vettel usually, but that was one of the few good races he had in recent times and I found the penalty very questionable, and it sort of ruined the race too, otherwise there’d have been more fighting to the end.

        1. @esploratore1 Vettel was pushed into a mistake, lost control, cut the corner, came back on track unsafely, and would have put Hamilton into the wall had he not braked last second. The penalty was well-deserved.

        2. Who do you see as the winner of Spa 2008 @esploratore1?

          1. I personally accept that Massa was officially the winner of that race. However, it’s another one where I do equally remember the circumstances. I don’t necessarily like the result/the way the result was reached, but I accept it. And it also makes Brazil 2008 much more exciting if you don’t go into thinking Hamilton has two more points than he actually did.

      2. I think I agree with your general sentiment too. Hamilton should and would have won the 2021 championship had it not been for Masi’s decisions, which is without parallel in Formula 1’s history really. I mean we can point the finger at teams and drivers for underhand tactics to win a title, but there has been no instance before of a race official deciding the championship. But that’s what happened.
        Yet what I really feel is that Verstappen should have been blackflagged for his completely out of order driving in Saudi Arabia. The drama of Abu Dhabi has overshadowed just how bad that was. I mean one or maybe two incidents in a race, it’s within the bounds of ‘normal’ bad driving. But we’re talking about an entire race when he was out of control and the race director and stewards really, to their shame, let it happen, including a brake test that damaged Hamilton’s car and could have been far more serious. He should have been disqualified for that on the spot. My feeling is that ‘words were said’ behind the scenes after that race as Verstappen did pull back from that extreme in the races after. But he should have lost the title there. Whatever he was doing in Saudi Arabia, it wasn’t motor racing anymore.

        1. +1

          The brake test was exactly what they accused HAM at silverstone, where the crash was a racing incident at best (I’d even say it was a consequence of the constant ignorant and overaggressive driving of VER).

          Such a brake test on a narrow 300+ straight with guiding rails or walls on both sides is beyond everything. Instant DSQ and some races ban, if not the driver license itself are the rightful measures for such an act.

          But instead they gift this crazy one the title, unwilling to accept Merc and HAM again achieved it on track. FIA at its best, fairness back to times of MSC and briatore. Disgrace.

    3. Nico Rosberg DID NOT win the 2016 Drivers Championship.

      1. That’s quite different, Nico didn’t drive in a manner deserving a black flag, he did benefit from Hamiltons bad luck and thats that. He also didn’t benefit from a rougue race directors absurd call, neither did he benefit from a race directors being to easy on him and too scared to penalise him or teach him a lesson

  34. Lets face Masi had to go.

    Can any Max fan honestly say if that if the situation was reversed and Hamilton won after Masi’s decisions, that they would find it acceptable.?

    Thats the test.

    Of course not……heads have rolled……2021 is over.

    We should move on.

  35. What a disgraceful outcome, and to fuel even more hate and vitriol for Masi when Toto and Mercedes should be fined for not accepting the outcome and for destroying the sport. Disgusting.

    1. Paulo, I assure you Masi will be amply compensated :))

      1. Ahah, yes, red bull has quite a few spare millions now that they can no longer invest 300 mil into a year due to the budget cap!

    2. Masi destroyed the sports by manipulating the WDC.

  36. Why they didn’t release any reasoning behind the decisions? because they know they were pressured by the commercial holder to make the finale a hollywood-esque thing. 100+ million people tuned in, they wanted this… Interlagos was the rehearsal, Saudi Arabia was the premiere, and Abu Dhabi was the Oscars award ceremony.

    Masi is just the subject, one man in the spotlight, but there’s a whole load of garbage behind the curtains…

    1. Hopefully someone is brave enough to show us all what had lay behind those curtains last year… Crash gate took a year to surface, didn’t it?..

  37. So the changes to the rules and the decision to replace Masi was supported by all of the teams. So Redbull didn’t speak in support of Masi at all? Talk about used and abused.
    So where do they put Masi now?

    1. Red Bull have probably bought him an island.

    2. Maybe RB plans to hire Masi. Somehow I believe, they anyhow know his bank account number already.

  38. The drivers had a meeting at the race after Brazil and discussed the unpenalized off-track excursion by Max. None of the drivers thought that it was fair as most of them were penalized for doing far less at other races. And at the last race, only 1 driver benefitted from the unlapping/non-unlapping procedure. Drivers 3-20 were definitely not treated equally as some were unlapped and others not. This is why Masi is gone. His decisions and the stewards’ decisions throughout the season were based on 1 set of interpretations for Lewis and Max to keep the championship close and another set of interpretations for the rest of the field. F1 needed to bring in a new race director because it is a new season with new cars and no one would be confident with any decisions by Masi. He could be viewed as favouring Max or favouring Lewis to make up for last season. There would have been too many doubts about any of his decisions this year.

    1. Brazil 2021 race. Bottas and Leclerc went off track in exactly the same Turn 4. Leclerc even gained a position. No reaction from the FIA. Have you missed that?

      1. I dont even get it, which situation you are referring to. Lap 1? If so, then you must live in some parallel universe, cause the situations are not even remotely comparable. Weird how distorted views can get.

    2. Mexico 2019. Hamilton not intended to make a corner, went completely off track on the grass, pushed Max off track the way that Max loses several positions on track as an outcome. Guess what? No penalty.

      1. not even remotely the same. you need to be very biased to compare those situations.

        1. @Roman, Whats the difference?

    3. @jimfromus so please, stop talking in a way that Hamilton-Verstappen incident in Brazil being unpunished set a precedent, because it is a blatant lie. Simple as that.

  39. Anyway that’s enough of the sideshow; when we gonna know whether Ham is getting a one race or two race ban for missing the FIA lovefest?

    1. Dietrich Mateschitz wants him banned for the entire season.

  40. I certainly put my faith more to Ben Sulayem rather than Todt. Both of them has competed in motorsport but ultimately there’s a key difference.

    Ben Sulayem competed himself as a driver and I think he should be able to see things from driver perspective – the sporting side of the sport. While Todt was rather passive and gave me an impression that he exposed his delegates opportunities to get swayed by FOM and team influence under the pretense of ‘let them race’ nonsense.

    Teams, drivers, medias will always moan whichever decision is taken. Time to enforce the rules the right way.

  41. Even-though FIA have indirectly admitted that race control mismanaged the race, they have yet to address WHY the stewards can throw out appeals and reject any challenge to their authority with ease. This is not what we are here to watch!

    1. @powersteer There’s a difference between a protest, a right to review, and an appeal. What was thrown out immediately after the race was a protest to the stewards, and I think that the way Merc’s protest was handled after the race was not great, but equally I’m not sure what else they could have done. Swapping the positions of Max and Lewis in the final standings of the race would have been possible, but would be open to an appeal from RB because Verstappen broke no rules, so they could argue he shouldn’t be penalised for something out of his hands. Equally, counting the results back to the end of lap 57 would have been retrospectively shortening the race, which opens a whole other can of worms. The stewards, while definitely not perfect, were somewhat between a rock and a hard place in AD. In fact, I was half expecting them to give Max 5 seconds for overtaking under SC (Merc’s first protest) and get the whole thing sorted without having to rule on the other protest.

      An appeal is what Mercedes then planned to submit (before they decided not to pursue it), and that goes to the internal FIA Courts of Appeal. It functions much more like your regular court case than a stewards meeting. However, the FIA are not a party to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, so any appeal would have been the FIA marking their own homework, and I think this is one of the reasons Merc dropped their appeal.

      Finally, you have the right to review. This is what Merc triggered after Brazil, and what RB triggered after Silverstone. However, it comes with a very high standard of evidence to even be considered, which is (something along the lines of) “substantial, relevant, new evidence”. It was meeting this standard where RB failed in Silverstone (mainly on relevance by the sounds of it) and Merc failed in Brazil (I believe the stewards felt the newly released was not “substantial” enough). Both of these requests failed on the first part, the standard of evidence, and neither even reached a full hearing. There was no judgement on the matter of the facts, only on the evidence submitted. Whether this is right or wrong is very much up for debate. I think it’s important to have a high standard of proof, to stop things like RB’s PowerPoint with Alex Albon driving Lewis line being admissible, but at the same time, the evidence in Brazil was much more relevant, and it begs the question, if a new onboard is not substantial new evidence, then what is?

  42. Of course Lewis was robbed and it is shameful that the FIA have not rectified the result.

  43. Too little too late. The FIA is apparently going to offer Masi another position, but frankly he should be fired or at least do the right things and walk away completely. His judgement and integrity will always be in question no matter what role he is subsequently given. And frankly RedBull and Max need to grow a pair and give back the title. Max has a forever tainted title. RedBulls reputation and respect in the paddock and as a brand has been badly tarnished if reports are to be believed. This does not mean that the title shoud be given to Lewis. No. I suspect Lewis would not want it under these circumstatnces. It just means that 2021 would stand as the year F1 had no world champion. It would be the year the FIA and F1 got it badly wrong and fell far short of who and what they were there to do and stand for.

    1. This is a joke, growing a pair? Hamilton gained more points than verstappen did through luck or having himself-bottas take verstappen out, giving the title back is really comical.

      1. The only taking out on purpose was in Monza by VER, although he tried it several times more. VER was lucky so many times this year (gifted win in Spa, no factual penalty for Monza, Brazil, Jeddah). And the cheated/gifted title by the RD, which is shameful for all – Masi, FIA, RB and Max.

  44. If everyone knows he was robbed, which they do, then why not just un-rob him?

    Indeed, why don’t Max and Lewis share the title? Everyone will be unhappy with this solution – the perfect compromise.

  45. The headline couldn’t be further away from truth.

  46. It gives a strong impression the FIA, under the new leadership of Mohammed Ben Sulayem, has accepted the season finale was mishandled

    I think what they’ve done is attempt to tackle the appearance of the situation, and not the reality of it.
    Some people are upset, so that’s the problem they are trying to solve.

    Image is everything.

  47. Charlie was a hard act to follow.

    Yes, Masi was inconsistent but mostly impartial. While Whiting was consistently partial.
    Myself I don’t miss Charles Whiting, not a bit. I used to be constantly infuriated by his one-sided (always the same-sided) decisions.

  48. All this bitter nonsense about it putting an asterisk by the championship.

    What if silverstone had been the last race?it gave HAM a 32 point swing plus an a engine penalty for VER.

    It’s shortsighted to just look at AD as if was the only inconsistency over the year.

    The headline is sensationalist click bate at best ..

    It’s over. Move on.

  49. Clue? “Sweeping Changes”.
    AHA! So! They did use a brush, as opposed to spray or roller to apply this fat coat of whitewash!!!!

  50. What redbull and verstappen should do is give back the title stati g that they dont want to win a championship that has been tarnished. Be the bigger better organization and racer. Im sure they will win alot more people over. But to keep the title knowing they received it under dubious and illegal means indicates the caliber of both driver amd team.

    1. They could have behaved with a modicum of modesty that would have been sufficient for me. It was not their fault that the referee made a mistake.

      1. I respect max as a talant force of a driving but he really deserved a black flag for Jeddah

  51. “FIA announces Michael Masi gone and Eduardo Freitas [WEC RD] and Neils Wittich [former DTM RD] share the F1 RD role alternating events”
    This is what is being reported by a number of media organisations. Any truth Racefans??

  52. What a load of cra again. Its a F1 season, not a single race. Thankfully only the UK press talks about it still.

    1. well, seems people like you still read it. better to switch to other articles then, dont you think.

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