FIA’s report on Abu Dhabi vital to F1’s “credibility” – Domenicali

2022 F1 season

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Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali says the FIA’s process of reviewing how last year’s championship-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was handled is vital to the sport’s credibility.

However he made it clear he does not believe any deliberate attempt was made to interfere with the outcome of the world championship.

The title changed hands on the final lap of the race after a controversial restart arranged by FIA F1 race director Michael Masi. His decision to break with past practice by only allowing a portion of the field to un-lap themselves, and bring the Safety Car in a lap earlier than permitted by the rules, provoked protests from Mercedes, after Max Verstappen passed Lewis Hamilton to win the race and the title.

Despite furious criticism from many fans over how the race was handled, Domenicali is confident they still trust the sport to provide fair competition, pointing out how well ticket sales for the upcoming season have gone.

“I think that, to be honest, the trust is already there,” he told Sky. “We had in the last week a meeting with all the promoters and all the broadcasters and all the partners. Almost all the places we are going are sold out. That means the Formula 1 has not that problem. It means the trust is there.”

Stefano Domenicali, Formula 1 CEO, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022
“The trust is there” from fans, says Domenicali
Following the race Hamilton did not speak publicly for months. In one of his last comments on the radio at on the final lap he claimed the race had been “manipulated”. But Domenicali insisted he does not believe the it was fixed.

“Sport is a part of the challenge and you may have situations that are positive or negative or create controversy,” he said. “I have not for a single second in my mind to think that something [was] built on purpose.

“As a sportsman, if I thought that was the case, I would not be there. And I can guarantee that from Formula 1’s perspective, this is not the case.”

However he believes the FIA’s process of investigation is important to ensure the sport remains credible.

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“In the next days the FIA will formally discuss that at the World Motor Sport Council. I think that what we need to avoid is a personal discussion.

“We are all human beings. You may say that you are performing well as a driver, as a team, as a referee, but this is not relevant to the credibility of the sport if the sport will take all the lessons in order to improve that. The credibility is passing through this kind of action. And this is what we are expecting from the FIA to take on board in the preparation of the next year.”

The FIA has already made several changes in response to the controversy. Earlier this week it changed a line in the sporting regulations ensuring that all cars are allowed to unlap themselves before restarts.

Previously it confirmed a new structure for F1’s officiating which now include a pair of race directors, an advisor and a dedicated support facility. The FIA also confirmed Masi will not continue in the role of race director. Domenicali declined to say whether he agreed with that change, but pointed out Masi had been under considerable pressure in the role.

“I want to see the facts on making sure that the FIA, as a regulator of the sport, will be able to start this weekend in the best way that they can in terms of giving to the race director and all the people involved in the decision-making process, the stewards and so on, the right tools to do the best job that they can,” he said.

Domenicali said he hopes the FIA’s report on the controversy allows the sport to move on from the controversial conclusion to last season.

“I would say this is part of the FIA,” he said. “I will attend the World Council next Saturday, and we will see.

“That is the aim to have a step forward to move forward from Abu Dhabi. We are already in Bahrain so there’s no need to talk with the different approach rather than to say what we learn as regulator from that last race.”

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44 comments on “FIA’s report on Abu Dhabi vital to F1’s “credibility” – Domenicali”

  1. Steve Mepham
    17th March 2022, 15:32

    Unfortunately this is also the man who said the sprint ‘race’ concept was “an incredible success” even before it went to Brazil! I’m not sure that I have any confidence in his opinion on the current level of trust that F1 has amongst its fans, despite what ticket sales might imply.

    As a neutral in this I certainly feel that there were many mistakes made in 2021 culminating in the farcical situation of the last race. I’ll have more trust in the FIA when they publish the report ‘warts and all’ so that everyone can have some faith that they see the lessons that need to be learned.

  2. Because there was no controversy apart from Lewis being allowed to keep his place after him cutting the corner on lap 1.

    The real controversy was prevented when the season didn’t end with a champion who needed to be saved twice from his own incompetence by the totally unnecessary use of red flags.

    Imagine that………

  3. Almost all the places we are going are sold out.

    I strongly suspect almost all of them were sold out, or very close to, before Abu Dhabi last year.

    Following the race Hamilton did not speak publicly for months. In one of his last comments on the radio at on the final lap he claimed the race had been “manipulated”. But Domenicali insisted he does not believe the it was fixed.

    These are not the same thing. Not many people believe the race was “fixed” to allow Max to win, but it was certainly “manipulated”: significantly altered by way of a “creative interpretation” (aka breaking) of the rules, in an attempt to make the final lap more exciting than the race director believed following the rules would have allowed.

  4. Domenicali is confident they still trust the sport to provide fair competition

    I, for one, no longer trust it

    1. I regret watching 2021 F1 season. It was such a mess with track limits, ridiculously light penalty for brake-test for Max and multiple rule breaking by Michael Masi in the final laps in Abu Dhabi. Absolutely apalling experience! How can anyone still trust this cheating “sport”?!

  5. Ha ha ha, F1 thinks it has credibility, priceless….

    1. Talking about price – I will not spend any (all) cent on F1 anymore and will talk any (all) my friends from wasting their time on F1.

  6. You are very, very wrong Domenicali.
    The scandalous theft of Hamilton’s world title has shown once again, with absolute clarity, that Formula 1 is run by businessmen without scruples or morals who only care about making money and don’t care how.
    They needed the Dutchman to be champion because it was better for the business and so they shamefully and openly stole the title from Hamilton, without any shame or dissimulation.
    No one believes a word of you, Domenicali.

    1. Noframingplease (@)
      17th March 2022, 17:37

      @jorgelardone oh sorry, a little addition to the general opinion here. Just a little. ‘No one believes a word of you, Domenicali’ is the polarized opinion of mostly Lewis fans. A rather big part, maybe the biggest part of the F1 fans will agree that in the last race Max was lucky, but we saw during last season enough decisions from Masi (or the Fia) that worked out positive for lewis or MB. That biggest part saw that due to bad luck for Max and luck for lewis, lewis managed to minimize the gap in points. But yeah, I know, for many here only the last race counts, cuze it suits the argumentation for a personal opinion so well. Lucky the rest of the world also saw the 99% of the season where Lewis did a ‘lewis’ on the rear tire of max, and teammate Bottas bowled half the field into the barriers and were after accusations from some hypocrites about the speed of that Honda, MB gained suddenly 30kmph on the straight. Oh,… and that last one in brasil,… we call that Lewis best race. So ‘no one believes Domenicali’ can be changed in ‘but still a few hardcore fans have an opinion the season was fixed’

      1. Distorted reality of a Max fan. He took himself out in Silverstone, due to his overaggressive driving. He was gifted Spa. He on purpose crashed Lewis in Monza. He tries to crash Lewis in Brazil and numberous times in Jeddah. He performed a brake-test for which he didnt get the appropriate penalty. And much more. Take off the orange glasses.

        1. Coventry Climax
          17th March 2022, 19:47

          Roman, let’s do the same as you do, and qualify your comment as the distorted opinion of a Hamilton fan:
          The little bit of driving they did in Spa, was done better by Max than by Lewis.
          Silverstone was deemed prdominantly Lewis’s failure. Understatement of 2021, in my eyes. Hamiltons front wheel hit Max’s rear.
          Monza was an absolutely brilliant overtake. He braked very late, made the corner on the outside within track limits, was well next to Hamilton for the next corner and on the inside when Hamilton suddenly woke up and decided to shut the door. It was their rear wheels that touched.
          He tried to let Hamilton past, cleverly on a tactical part of the circuit. Hamilton didn’t want to. So who was solely deliberate here?
          Talking about coloured glasses.
          Do I believe all this myself? Maybe, maybe not, but it shows how pointless this -yours and mine- all is.

          1. Rgd. Silverstone: Yes, HAMs front hit VERs rear. Cause he was aware of the car alongside, and did brake early enough to leave enough space for an outer line through the corner. Max did not respect the car alongside, did brake later, carry too much speed into the corner, and needed to cut too far onto the inner line. With less aggressive driving of VER they would have made the corner alongside each other.

            And rgd. Monza and the nasty brake check I dont want to argue anymore.

            At least I can agree to your last sentence. Its pointless. I take my personal freedom to see Max as undeserving paper champ, and I respect you see things different. Other than some other Max fans here you can argue your opinion in a reasonable way, so lets respect our different views.

        2. Agree with you 100%

  7. Martin Elliott
    17th March 2022, 16:31

    The simple fact that FIA is announcing ACTIONS without facts/analysis is extremely worrying.

    It all very well discussing the Inquiry in closed sessions, but a proper report is all that will settle the issues. Agreed it should not be personalised, but if incorrect decisions were made, then that should be highlighted.
    For example the ‘understanding’ to force a green flag finish. How was that approved as a policy. Were all the necessary rules and consequences formally considered & recorded.

    It does tend to indicate that not only are some rules/rule books are not regularly reviewed and not fit for purpose. Why else is there a large UNOFFICIAL Stewards Handbook to explain interpretation. Also that these decisions aren’t even consistent.

    Will the written report cover such ROOT causes? The question is still whether a report will be issued/published.
    FIA last issued a (summary) inquiry report after the Jules Bianchi accident in 2014. Hundreds of inquiries since, including majors such as Albert, Monger, Grosjean, but just a few Press Releases.

    Confidence in FIA as an organisation, I don’t think so.

  8. Keeping up with the Verstappens

    There was a reason why Merc brought a lawyer with them to the final weekend. But even that did not prevent the disgraceful manipulation of the WDC. F1 sports was sacrified to gift the championship to the FIA/LibertyMedia-preferred driver.

    And our so well deserving champ now reminds everyone of the blunt manipulation by carrying the No.1 on his car. Laughable.

    The only good thing of this farce is, that it kept Honda in F1. Who knows – maybe this was the reason for the whole manipulation in first place.

    1. They better brought a strategist..

      1. Your arguments they messed up strategy are just silly. You cant have a strategy against a RD betraying you like that. But your blindness obviously doesnt allow you to see that.

  9. So not only Lewis? BTW, isn’t the WMSC meeting tomorrow?

  10. Hoosier Daddy
    17th March 2022, 17:18

    Makes perfect sense that with just greed and a lack of scruples “they” orchestrated Latifi’s crash, slow cleanup and convinced Massi to commit professional suicide to make Max WDC. Has to be the mother of all conspiracy theories.

  11. Only credibility left was lost before Abu Dhabi. It was obvious they were bending every possible rule in favor of Verstappen for a good portion of the final races. F1 should honestly just let this go. Dredging it up only reminds me of this in a time I should be excited about the new cars. We know F1 is essentially WWE, but let’s not remind ourselves of that fact every day.

    1. Agreed. Like many others within my F1 circles, I was enraged by the Abu Dhabi manipulation (and manipulation it was – no ambiguity there) but as one who’s followed the sport for 28 years, I just want to enjoy this brand new season. Let them let it go – we all saw what happened and no one (pro-Max/Masi or pro-Lewis) is going to change their minds at this time.

      1. I would really like to see if you’d be as enraged if verstappen and hamilton’s positions were swapped…

        1. Straw man.

  12. Days pass, weeks pass, and I think about this more and more. Liberty Media was a mistake…

    1. And yet, not a single person involved in the Abu Dhabi fiasco works for Liberty Media. The rules were written by the FIA, the stewards work for the FIA, Michael Masi works for the FIA, the new race directors work for the FIA, Herbie Blash works for the FIA, Tombazis, the head of single seaters at the time, worked for the FIA.

      The only person in this story who works for Liberty is Domenicali.

      1. And… the FIA works for Liberty. Sporting synergy!

        1. RandomMallard
          17th March 2022, 19:29

          The FIA works with Liberty is probably a better way of putting it. I’m yet to see any evidence that there was an explicit push from Liberty to the FIA to make either side (Max or Lewis) world champion. I can 100% understand why people think that push may have been there, but I’m not personally gonna argue that unless I see any evidence.

          1. Why would they let you see an explicit push from Liberty? Kind of naive when all it takes is a phone call. This was so blatantly rigged that you don’t need a smoking gun.

          2. RandomMallard
            17th March 2022, 20:00

            @darryn I won’t say it was “blatantly rigged” until I see evidence of it. Partially because it could be seen as libellous, but partially because I don’t see any evidence of it yet. As time passes, if evidence does emerge of conversations between the FIA and Liberty, I’ll be very open to re-evaluating my opinion (and if there is evidence, it almost always emerges over time: look at Watergate, or in F1 itself, Crashgate, for example). There’s no doubt in my mind that it was manipulated unfairly in one driver’s favour, but I can’t say it was rigged without evidence.

          3. grat and RandomMallard, it seems like you missed my point. I’m not saying that Liberty wanted a certain driver to win. Hell, I’m not even talking about Abu Dhabi. The whole season has been a total fiasco. So many questionable decisions all season long and it’s hard for me to believe that the FIA is that bad. I think it has been a great push from Liberty to the FIA to make the season more “exciting” than it already is. If at the beginning of the season you could have said that the FIA messed up accidentally, towards the end of the season it has got even more obvious and the Abu Dhabi finale was the icing on the cake. I think that even if it was Hamilton behind Verstappen, they would have still call in the safety car to have a “real finale”. Also, please dont tell me that Liberty has nothing to do with FIA or that FIA is not influenced by Liberty. It makes you both look like newcomers into F1.

      2. Coventry Climax
        17th March 2022, 20:11

        There are still rumours that LM tried/tries to push the FIA towards enhancing the show, including not ending a race under a caution situation. Not working for but being pressured and influenced by do not exclude one another.

  13. Coventry Climax
    17th March 2022, 20:00

    Should Putin decide to give a lecture of some sorts in a western capital, I’m pretty sure I’d buy a ticket and go watch and listen to the idiot. And Domenicali says ticket sales and trust go hand in hand? I don’t think so, buddy.
    What he also seems to forget, through all his mumbo jumbo, is that it is not just the report in itself that is crucial, it is also making all of the contents publicly known, unlike for example the Ferrari deal of a couple of years back.
    Only when all of us know the contents, the goods, the bads, rights, wrongs and the remedial actions to deal with it all, that’s when we’ll decide whether it is trustworthy or not.
    I was massively disappointed in Todt, I am currently massively disappointed in Brawn and massively disappointed in Domenicali. It will take a long time and a whole lot of credible remedies to restore even a tiny bit of the lost faith.
    But claiming the faith is still there simply because of sales figures does not bode well.

  14. RandomMallard
    17th March 2022, 20:01

    I really hope the FIA get this report right. No “confidential settlements” please…

  15. Coventry Climax
    17th March 2022, 20:03

    Filter, here we go again:

    Should Putin decide to give a lecture of some sorts in a western capital, I’m pretty sure I’d buy a ticket and go watch and listen to the enemy. And Domenicali says ticket sales and trust go hand in hand? I don’t think so, buddy.
    What he also seems to forget, through all his mumbo jumbo, is that it is not just the report in itself that is crucial, it is also making all of the contents publicly known, unlike for example the Ferrari deal of a couple of years back.
    Only when all of us know the contents, the goods, the bads, rights, wrongs and the remedial actions to deal with it all, that’s when we’ll decide whether it is trustworthy or not.
    I was massively disappointed in Todt, I am currently massively disappointed in Brawn and massively disappointed in Domenicali. It will take a long time and a whole lot of credible remedies to restore even a tiny bit of the lost faith.
    But claiming the faith is still there simply because of sales figures does not bode well.

  16. However he made it clear he does not believe any deliberate attempt was made to interfere with the outcome of the world championship

    That is not totally correct, Massi may not have chosen Verstappen as the WDC. His multiple interventions over the course of the season were intended to keep the leading drivers close on points to allow a dramatic finish.
    His choice to manipulate the rules in a way to please Liberty media and the “let them race” mob came to a head in Abu Dhabi when he blatantly gave one driver an unbeatable advantage over the other to stay true to a ‘handshake’ deal to finish under a green flag rather than follow the rules as written.

    I will repeat what I said at the start of this debacle. Verstappen is not to blame for this, any driver in his position would have taken advantage of the opportunity.
    Domenicalis’ statement is weak, I doubt the official report will be any more direct or shed any light on the reasons the FIA allowed the rules to be manipulated to facilitate “the show”.

    It does not escape me that the “let them race” mob sound remarkably similar to the people who marched through the streets demanding freedom from wearing masks and shouting “I can’t breath”.

  17. We will see.

    I intend to judge F1 on this season. If the new RD’s are consistent and the new stewarding mission control cut the mustard, we should not notice control. However, if the manipulation is as overt and obvious as last year (not just AD) I’m out

  18. If the FIA wants credibility they need to release the report, honestly admit they screwed up and present their plan for preventing it from happening again.

  19. F1 has made a big error
    One man (Masi) can’t decide the outcome of the championship. Masi broke not just one rule but four ! ! ! !
    1) First Masi called over radio that no lapped cars where allowed to overtake the SC and unlap themselves.
    According to the written rules 48.12 about how to conduct a SC it clearly says, when a call is made it is irrevocable.

    But Masi just changed his mind……
    —————
    2) The written rules 48.12 also says that if you’re going to let unlapped cars through, then it’s ALL unlapped cars.
    The racing director can’t arbitrarily hand pick cars as he wishes.
    In this case only the cars infront of Verstappen were cleared.
    Sainz didn’t get the same special treatment. He didn’t get the chance to challenge for the victory.
    ——————–
    3) For safety reasons the SC must do one extra lap when ALL the lapped cars has unlapped themselves. But Masi unsafely called in the SC right after the cars infront of Verstappen were cleared.
    ——————–
    4) The racing director shouldn’t interfere with the outcome of a race.
    Masi’s actions clearly decided not just the race but the whole world championship.
    —————-
    Masi is unfit to be a racing director for a series that is seen as the pinnacle of motorsport.

    Masi should’ve acted as a Racing Director NOT A CIRCUS DIRECTOR!!!
    :  )
    Ps. I think Verstappen is too good for having a championship handled to him like this. Masi’s action hurt Verstappen almost as much as it hurt Hamilton. Ds.

  20. *Deep breath*

    I hate the F1 2021 season, purely based on what the FIA failed to do through out.

    I feel sorry almost equally for Max and Lewis. One was denied a record 8th title and one has basically got a terrible experience of a 1st world driver championship.

    The controversy has dominated headlines over the win which says a lot…

    This report needs to put this all to bed otherwise respecting F1 as a sport will go.

  21. Ticket sales means credibility? No it doesn’t.

    If anything I now have less faith in its credibility.

  22. You will notice that most of the comments regarding this matter are from those that have grievances regarding the 2021 result. The vast majority of us are happy with the outcome and have moved on with life. If we have a down moment we go on YouTube and play the last lap again over for a quick fix of absolute delight. Most of us wanted the dominance to end and we got our wish. The complete one sided dominance had to end and when it did it went off with a bang so loud the whole world heard it. It was a beautiful thing. You can lament all you want. Go ahead. Max earned his title and he has that title and there is nothing you can do about it. If you wish to claim Max is a fake champion knock yourself out as plenty of us feel the same way about Hamilton being gifted title after title, bang, woot, we have a new champion.

    1. Your comment says far more about you than one would normally wish to be aired in a public forum.

      Thank goodness for the anonymity of the internet.

    2. If we have a down moment we go on YouTube and play the last lap again over for a quick fix of absolute delight.

      Good for you.

      I know a lot of people enjoy reality shows and WWE, too, and I’m, happy for them. To me, though, I’d hope that seeing the race director bin the rulebook would not have brought me any pleasure no matter who won. I may have been happy for the result of the race or championship, but certainly not how it came about.

    3. I think you’ll find that “most of us” wanted a fair and transparent sporting competition, rather than a specific victor.

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