Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022

No need for ‘full report’ on Abu Dhabi says Verstappen as Hamilton urges ‘transparency’

2022 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen says there is no need for a full report on the controversial conclusion to last year’s world championship in Abu Dhabi.

The FIA is due to reveal details tomorrow of its investigation into the hotly disputed outcome of last season, over three months since Verstappen clinched the championship at the Yas Marina.

Verstappen passed Lewis Hamilton to win on the final lap of the race, following a restart which contravened F1’s regulations. FIA F1 race director Michael Masi, who made the decision to restart the race, has been replaced in the role, and the sport has initiated other major changes to its officiating structure.

But while the outcomes of the report have already been put into action, the FIA’s explanation for what went wrong in Abu Dhabi is not yet known. Details are expected to be revealed following a meeting tomorrow but Verstappen says the sport’s governing body does not need to give a comprehensive account of the controversy.

“I don’t think we need a full report,” he said in today’s FIA press conference ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

“Of course every year it’s good to discuss about what will happen the year before and what you can do better. That’s what teams do as well, you always analyse everything you do.

“So we’ll find out and of course if things can be written down in an easier way or a way to understand it better, the wording, then for sure. Let’s see.”

However Hamilton said he spoke to FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem yesterday about the controversy and stressed the sport must be transparent about the outcome to last year’s world championship.

“I think it’s important that, as a sport, we are transparent,” said Hamilton.

“I had a good meeting with Mohammed last night who agreed that’s the direction we should take as a sport and so we’re looking forward to seeing it come out and for people to know that the sport is transparent and we are learning from what’s happened in the past and we’ll make improvements moving forwards.”

Several of their rivals said it is important for the report’s findings to be made public and they are keen to learn how the contentious outcome to the race came about.

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“I think it is really important to have that transparency and for us to be able to see it,” said Charles Leclerc. “Whether I will read it, I don’t think so, it will probably be too long, but it’s important to at least have the big lines and know what is the conclusion of it in order to grow from it and to maybe manage those situations better in the future.”

Leclerc’s team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr, who said yesterday Masi’s handling of the restart cost him the chance to fight for his first win, wants to see the report and then draw a line under the controversy.

“I’m obviously interested in seeing what comes out of it and what we have learnt as a sport and what changes are going to be applied to make sure that such a thing doesn’t repeat again,” said the Ferrari driver.

“But at the same time, I think as soon as it comes out and as soon as it’s analysed and read by everyone, it’s time to move on. We are in March 2022 and we’re still talking about December 2021.

“I think as a sport, it’s also time to, whatever comes out of that meeting, learn from it, apply the lessons learnt and move on and never talk about it too much again.”

Sainz says he was disadvantaged by Masi’s refusal to allow all lapped cars to rejoin the lead lap at the end of the race. Mick Schumacher, one of three drivers who was not allowed to get his lap back, said F1 must avoid a repeat of the Abu Dhabi row in the future.

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“That’s in the past,” he said. “It’s good to know what came out of the result and analyse it but we have to look to the future and obviously try not to repeat something like that.”

Other drivers echoed the view F1 needs to learn from the controversy and move on.

“It’s time to move on, but I’m definitely keen to see the full report and all the details and make sure the learnings have been made, that is the main thing,” said Valtteri Bottas

“I agree a thousand percent with this too,” said Verstappen’s team mate Sergio Perez. “I think it would be important to learn from it, but also it will be very important to move on.”

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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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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58 comments on “No need for ‘full report’ on Abu Dhabi says Verstappen as Hamilton urges ‘transparency’”

  1. Something that baffles me is that almost everyone (including Keith) seem to be fixated on the fact that Masi let 5 lapped cars through (those between Lewis and Max) but not the other 3.

    However, isn’t the bigger issue here the fact that he green flagged the race at the very next lap? The reulebook has not been changed on this, either:

    1) Restart the race at the end of the current lap WITHOUT letting the lapped cars through
    2) Restart the race at the end of the following lap after letting ANY (some? all?) lapped cars through

  2. I assume he’s unfamiliar with the “Streisand effect”

    1. It looks like Max doesn’t understand that in the fullness of time it will prove to be he who suffers the greatest harm from Masi’s screw-up. I have no doubt that Max will go on to win many more Championships, but his first win will always get tagged with the story of Abu Dhabi, just like all the Schumacher retrospectives that devote a big chunk to Monaco 2006. Even though Max carries no responsibility for this (though you can’t say the same for Horner), the fallout from such a scandal is very sticky and as the years go by it’ll end up covering him.

      His best hope is to get out in front of the problem and push for everything to be exposed as openly and transparently as possible. Calling for a cover-up is just stupidity.

      1. Agreed. It’s highly unfortunate for Max, as he did nothing wrong as was entirely deserving of a WDC, but the fact he won it due to Masi breaking the rules will forever hang over this one. I doubt we will get to a stage where nobody raises it, just as I doubt we will see a time when Schumacher’s achievements are discussed without mention of him crashing out opponents to win.

      2. I think the more information people have, the better the future of the sport. Without clear information the sport cannot reach a consensus on what should be done.

  3. Max, I’m delighted for you that you won the Championship. You’re an amazing driver and you proved that last year, but that doesn’t make what happened in Abu Dhabi right!

    Quite understandably, most people in F1 including most fans, want to see what the FIA has to say. Masi’s decision was utterly nonsensical and almost definitely changed the outcome of the race and therefore the championship.

    Don’t go all Donald Trump on us and try to bury the truth! The majority of people connected to F1 will think worse of you for it.

    1. As much as fans want to move on, they also want to avoid a repeat. Such a great season that might be remembered by the controversy that concluded it.

      I feel that Verstappen and RedBull are hurting themselves by defending Masi and that the race was legit. Would probably be better for their image and the note next to Max name if they agreed that the last race was unusual but still according to the rules as were a few other decisions during the year. It’s not like they risk to lose the title retrospectively and teams should not care who is sitting as race director except if they have special affinities.

      “Funny” to see to which lengths the last two non Hamilton champions had to go to clinch the title. Both tightly fought battles, great tension, but not always the prettiest behavior from parties involved (on both sides).

    2. I think it was wrong the way the race was officiated in Abu Dhabi last year. But that was nothing new; Masi has been consistently inconsistent throughout his ‘reign’.

      The way this site (and others) milks the controversy and changes the facts is laughable though.

      Max’ main answer was positive and focussed on learning from mistakes made (“Of course every year it’s good to discuss about what will happen [SIC] the year before and what you can do better. That’s what teams do as well, you always analyse everything you do. So we’ll find out and of course if things can be written down in an easier way or a way to understand it better, the wording, then for sure.”), yet the headline is only written to fuel the ‘controversy’.

      The article starts with “Verstappen passed Lewis Hamilton to win on the final lap of the race, following a restart which contravened F1’s regulations” which is factually incorrect as the Stewards looked at this twice and concluded that the running of the race was within the rules and practices.

      Also all (or is it any?) of the rule changes the FIA has made so far would unlikely have altered the outcome of the race (it would only have benefitted Sainz and the drivers behind him).
      And the clear instructions from the new Race Director so far only points out that the bigger issue last year was the inconsistent policing of the white lines rather than the procedures under the safety car. Thus maybe the last lap of Abu Dhabi wasn’t the biggest controversy, but rather the many instances when crossing the white line and gaining an advantage wasn’t penalised.

      1. Maybe the report will contain more info, whether the restart contravened F1’s regulations.

        I have not seen the press conference yet, but the statement “I don’t think we need a full report” seems to be the main topic of this article.

        There was no big controversy rgd track limits, apart from some Max fans crying a whole year cause track limits enforcement was changed within the race. At every point in time they were identical for all drivers.

        But lets not distract from the main thing here – transparency about the things which led to the irregular decision of WDC in Abu Dhabi.

  4. How surprising.

  5. Nothing says “it was all fair and right” as much as “nah, you don’t need to see that” *rolleyes*

  6. The best thing Max can do is keep quiet. Every time he opens his mouth he just puts his foot in it. Brilliant but unacceptably aggressive driver who does not know when to shut up.

    1. I don’t read any foot-in-mouth kind of statements. Did you read past the ‘colored’ headline?

    2. It’s much more the way his full answer is presented in the press (sensationalist headlines) than the actual words he utters.
      I guess he is like many typical Dutch people: direct, straightforward, with little nuance ;)

  7. Please everyone, can we put all of this in the past and, hopefully, get on with an interesting 2022 Formula One season without the continuous harping.

    1. Depends on whether you can trust that such a farce won’t happen again. Personally, I haven’t seen enough* from the FIA for that, so “put[ting] all of this in the past” will involve me walking away… Something I see no reason to do quietly.

    2. So the long awaited report is due out, F1 and the mainstream media are following the story. The drivers, TP’s and key players will give their comments on it. There maybe recommendations stemming from this report/investigation, with ramifications felt throughput the season. Ham met with the Sulayhem yesterday on this and related matters with a resolution on the missed FIA ceremony forthcoming; and you think its time to put this in the past?

  8. I’m sure Max and Red Bull don’t want any transparency on the events of Abu Dhabi but the rest of the paddock and most fans want to see that the mess that happened last year will never happen again. Once everyone has reassurance it’s not going to happen again, we can then start to move on from the issue.

  9. Nice to see well reasoned comments instead of the lunatic fringe.

    Clearly a mistake was made.
    Clearly it favoured one team over all the others.
    But I don’t think it was really Masi’s fault. I think the fault lies with a system that allows “players to badger the referee”. A bizarre situation that wouldn’t be acceptable in any sport, let alone one with such a lot of money on the line.

    Everyone talks about Hamilton being robbed. But that’s not the real issue. The issue is the millions of dollars that that decision cost multiple teams.

    If nothing else, that decision allowed Max to negotiate at $40 million contract. No wonder he sent Masi his best wishes.

  10. Strikes of denial to me. He’s afraid to read an official report which concludes he should not have been awarded the title given the circumstances of the race in Abu Dhabi. Tells me he has at least some form of creeping doubt regarding the legitimacy of his title. Unfortunately this is the price you pay for accepting something that isn’t truly yours with the unjust expectation of asking everyone else to play along in the delusion.

  11. Paper champ does not need a report, perfectly knowing he was gifted a title which he neither won nor deserved.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      18th March 2022, 11:49

      Paper champ? Good one! :-)

      1. Ahaha, and none of hamilton’s title are paper with that dominant merc?

        1. Nope, cause it was the result of a fair sports competition. Not a result manipulated by the RD.

          1. Yep, even the crane is legit if it goes for Sir

  12. “Of course every year it’s good to discuss about what will happen the year before and what you can do better.

    — Verstappen

    At least we know now that he admits that something wrong happened last year…

  13. There’s certainly no need for a full report to be made public when it’s guaranteed to distract the media from all the positives about the new season. The timing is insane.

    1. You never know, we may need this report to distract us from the new season.

      Anyway, I would imagine the report is written in such a way as to do the utmost to protect the integrity of the championship and its 2021 champion.

      1. I should add that from the comments Ham has made this morning it looks like the FIA have been clever enough to get Ham fully onside before the report is made public.

  14. Sergio Perez agrees ‘ a thousand percent’ in the need for a full report. Hmmm.
    Max seems politically clueless. He may not want a full report made public but saying so kind of makes it very much seem like he’s worried that it contains conclusions he’d rather not went public.
    Anyhow, Masi being removed (correct decision) is ample enough proof that FIA admit behind the scenes that he screwed up big time. I suspect the ‘full report’ will just contain a thousand and one ways of saying Masi messed up, but it wasn’t on purpose, the results stand and FIA was right to do nothing to alter the results in the immediate aftermath.

  15. Max’s reaction is to be expected as it is the same as his reaction after the drivers’ meeting that was held the week after Brazil. Red Bull, actually CH, believe that every single decision that benefits them is the correct decision, and every decision against them, was the absolute incorrect decision.

    1. This applies to literally every team and individual in the paddock

  16. TBH, though I doubt the full report will be published, I also strongly doubt that anywhere within even internal written documentation will there be an admission of how badly things were screwed up. The most I expect we will get is a few more platitudes and another (attempted) brushing of the whole fiasco under the carpet.

    Frankly, I never expected anywhere near an admission. I don’t even think they “fired” Masi because he screwed up, more because his actions made them look bad and it was easier than doing anything meaningful. I did hope that they would close off or restrict the “God Rule” loophole, which allowed them to pretend it’s all above board, for the future but even that’s looking like too much to ask right now… In all, it’s all just been hot air and illusion so far, and I don’t expect anything more will appear.

    That said, I do still hope I am wrong and that the sport I love will get a last minute reprieve.

    1. I agree 1000% with you!

  17. I don’t understand why Verstappen would not call for the full report to be released. I’ve never thought he had anything to do with the Masi decision.
    But perhaps he’s worried it could call the legitimacy of his WDC into question?

    1. @johnrkh That’s about the only conclusion to be made, true. Which his own team boss has doubled-down on with his endless accusations of it all being a ‘Mercedes plot’ to discredit Max’s title. Thanks for reminding us again Mr Horner…

  18. Max would naturally say this, since he doesn’t want any further attention drawn to it. We’d all likely say very similar in his situation, particularly as he had zero responsibility for what happened and thus the idea of it tainting his world title must be a very upsetting thought.

    Having said that, this shouldn’t even be a debate. A full report should be a standard public output for any big controversy in an international sport. It’s farcical to believe anything else would be the right way to handle it.

    To everyone saying “just move on”, I don’t think you necessarily realise the only way to move on is to publish a full report. That’s the only thing that can close the matter. Alongside that, no matter what the report says, it should not be viewed as a taint on Max’s achievement. He didn’t screw up, the FIA did. The taint is on them.

    1. RandomMallard
      18th March 2022, 17:19

      @sinom999 This is probably the comment I most agree with. I agree in saying that I myself would probably try to defend an achievement of that scale as best I could. It would 100% be difficult to see it being called tainted or undeserved when you’ve put a year’s worth of work (and indirectly, many years before that) simply to see it end in a scandal that you are totally innocent in. Because that’s the case. Max was totally innocent in the Abu Dhabi fiasco.

      And agree mainly with what you’ve said about the report. It’s absolutely necessary that it’s released, and properly completed. We need to know what went wrong so that it doesn’t happen again. Lessons can be learned from this, and as a sport F1 needs to take every opportunity it can to learn from it. Because that’s what the focus needs to be on. “Moving on” from Abu Dhabi includes, and I would argue is defined by, taking appropriate measures to avoid a repeat. Because 2021 is in the past. Deserving or asterisk, Max Verstappen is the 2021 World Champion. I can accept that; I don’t have a problem with the simple statement that he is World Champion. I’m annoyed at how it was decided, there’s no doubt, but I accept the statistics. The focus should now be on making sure similarly unfair circumstances don’t decide another title.

      And I agree about the taint being on the FIA. Maybe some of that transfers to Max, and for me it may do slightly, because I’ll likely remember the circumstances it was decided in, but I’ll also likely remember that Max was an innocent party to it. But as you say, the FIA are the ones who made the screw up. I just hope they get this report right…

      1. RandomMallard
        18th March 2022, 17:20

        @simon999 that should say

  19. I think this just proves that the hyperbolic statements of late by Max and Horner that Mercedes conspired with the FIA to punish Masi unjustly have no merit whatsoever. If they truly felt like that had happened, they would want the full report published so that people could see the process behind the decision to get rid of Masi and Mercedes’s involvement in that.

    So if Max says he doesn’t think the full report needs to be published, that’s fine but that means that he and Horner have to stop with their conspiracy theories about what happened with the process. Somehow I doubt they will do that as it seems key to their approach to validating Max’s championship. The irony is though, Max is a worthy champion regardless of the Abu Dhabi incident. The pressure applied on Masi by Horner and Red Bull to change the Saftey Car rules on the fly was no fault of Max’s and I don’t think tarnishes him personally. It has definitely tarnished Horner, Masi, and the FIA though. And while the FIA and Masi have reflected on their errors and made changes based on what they saw, it doesn’t look like Horner or Red Bull have done the same.

    1. @g-funk Max’s title is slightly tarnished, just the reality. It went down to the wire, he was losing the race and title, Masi’s decisions completely inverted the result. None of which was Max’s fault but he was the beneficiary. I’m also a bit tired of the ‘worthy champion’ line, even though I’ve said it myself, as, again, the reality is that his racing in the final 4 races wasn’t worthy of a champion, somewhat in SP and especially in Jeddah. The final race seems to have caused a bit of amnesia about just how bad his driving had become. I’m all for getting on with 2022 now, 2021 has gone, but Max and CH aren’t making it easy…

      1. @david-br I think there will always be some caveats around this title for Max that need to be acknowledged due to the circumstances in how he won, but I don’t think that tarnishes Max himself.

        Honestly, I didn’t see anything in Max’s driving the last races that was substantially different from how he has raced throughout his career. I personally don’t like his approach of placing other drivers in a position of back out of the corner or crash but it has worked for him throughout his entire career and this season was not that different than other seasons. The only difference is he was competing for a world championship and so there was a much larger spotlight on him. When the FIA deemed that he caused accidents, he was punished. He and Horner seemed to think that was a conspiracy against them but honestly, that is just as delusional as Lewis’ claims of grand conspiracies against him.

        1. @g-funk I did say the title not the driver was tarnished. The issue for me was more Max’s defensive driving, not those dives into corners (cede or crash) that have FIA deemed permissible for some years. Like you say, they may be disagreeable in a way, but they are usually within the regulations. As for Hamilton, I think that what he sometimes hints at isn’t so much some conspiracy as structural racism. It seems to me plausible that F1 as a whole might be structurally racist: what’s difficult is determining when it might be manifested. Usually the evidence for structural racism is statistical: so, you might not be able to say that a particular employer decision on recruitment, say, is racist, but if equally qualified black people are statistically less likely to get job offers at a given company or organisation, then structural racism probably exists. What I think happened last year was that FIA made a belated attempt to rein in some of Verstappen’s driving – precisely because of its deterioration from Interlagos on – which Red Bull saw as a ‘conspiracy’ and, at the same time, pressure from Liberty had led to a degree of laxity over driving to begin with (benefitting Max) and led to the SC decisions in Abu Dhabi that gave him the title (which Merc and Hamilton maybe saw as a ‘conspiracy’). So I don’t see their ‘conspiracy beliefs’ as equally unmerited, I guess, though the reasons for them may be different from what they think – Hamilton’s title was more the victim of commercial pressures.

          1. @david-br Fair enough.

            I have no doubt some sort of structural racism exists in F1 simply because there is such little diversity currently that most of the paddock just doesn’t realize their unconscious biases until someone points them out to them. To be said another way, I don’t think they think they are being intentionally racist but without exposure to diverse groups, they haven’t seen how their actions or words can be racist. But I also think that majority (not all) of the antagonism towards Lewis is due to his dominance of the sport over the better part of a decade. That sort of dominance will always breed frustration and animosity directed at those in the dominant position.

            But in terms of the sort of “They’re out to get us” claims, the other teams and drivers are competitors and trying to win championships. They’re not out to get any particular person or team. They are out there to beat all the other teams and drivers in the paddock. If you’re at the top, you have a target on your back from all the other teams but that isn’t a conspiracy; that’s competition.

          2. @g-funk Yes, I agree with all of that.

          3. Yes, should just let him past, how dare he make hamilton fight for it, considering example the brazil car advantage.

  20. It’s just getting depressing now listening to Lewis and his fans harp on about this report. It’s obvious that they are looking for it to basically say Max didn’t deserve his title which is a load rubbish. Fair enough, Masi made a strange call under enormous pressure and paid for it. He certainly didn’t do it to aid Red Bull, you only have to listen to him shooting them down on the radio over the lap1 corner cutting incident to see that. Was Lewis unlucky with the call? Yes. Did he have much bad luck up to that point? Quite the opposite. He gained a massive amount of points in Imola and Silverstone alone with red flags digging him out of a hole. All Masi’s decision did was stop Lewis from nicking the title with a series of fortunate events throughout the season. It’s actually hilarious that his fans have the cheek to get upset over him losing 1 place in Abu Dhabi.

    1. It was the first time a FIA official determined the result of a championship.

      1. RandomMallard
        18th March 2022, 17:04

        That’s debatable. Senna’s ghost probably wants a word from Suzuka 1989. Sure, he may have lost to Prost anyway after his retirement in Australia, but it was his DSQ in Japan that officially ruled him out. Although please don’t interpret this as a defence of Abu Dhabi, because that very much wasn’t the right way to end an otherwise brilliant season (in my opinion), it’s just in a sport as political as F1 I don’t think it was necessarily the first time the governing body’s involvement has had a huge role in the outcome of the championship.

        1. RandomMallard, very true!

  21. RandomMallard
    18th March 2022, 17:23

    Slightly amused that it’s the Ferrari drivers asking for transparency and clarity after the “confidential settlement” for Enginegate a couple of years ago. That said, Sainz wasn’t even involved in the team at that point and I doubt Leclerc had anywhere near a major role in it.

    As I put above, I just hope the FIA goes about this report properly.

    1. Maybe in the interest of unbiased clarity, they should release both reports together.
      Nah …. not likely.

  22. Max Verstappen is pure and simle – a coward who cannot look into the eyes of truth! It’s time to decide what is FIA regime – there are only 2 options – continue to hide the truth and become entertainment’s Putin regime or be open and accept the blame for robbery of Hamilton’s title.

    1. It would’ve been a robbery the other way around, like someone already said in this thread, considering the rest of the points lost over the season through bad luck.

    2. RandomMallard
      18th March 2022, 22:37

      I’ve said it on another thread, but think it should be put here again. I didn’t like the way last season ended, and very much disapprove of Red Bull and Verstappen’s arguments since then. However, what went on in Abu Dhabi is absolutely nothing compared to what is going on in Ukraine. Making some flawed arguments about a sporting event is nowhere near the same level as invading a neighbouring country. So can we please not compare anyone to Putin.

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