Horner and Wolff urged me to intervene over Abu Dhabi ’21 – Todt

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In the round-up: Former FIA president Jean Todt revealed the team principals of Red Bull and Mercedes lobbied him to intervene in the dispute over the outcome of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

In brief

I told team bosses I couldn’t intervene – Todt

Todt stepped down as FIA president as planned three days after the infamous race at Yas Marina in which Max Verstappen won the world championship by overtaking Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the race after F1 race director Michael Masi broke the rules while arranging a last-lap restart.

Before Todt’s replacement by current president Mohamed Ben Sulayem, the FIA issued a statement claiming the ongoing row over the race was “tarnishing the image of the championship and the due celebration of the first drivers’ world championship title won by Max Verstappen” but promised a “detailed analysis and clarification exercise for the future with all relevant parties.” This was concluded following Todt’s departure, and involved the removal of Masi as race director.

Jean Todt, Mohamed Bin Sulayem
Ben Sulayem succeeded Todt as FIA president
Todt was not present in Abu Dhabi for the final F1 race of his tenure as president but Red Bull team principal Christian Horner and his opposite number at Mercedes, Toto Wolff, both urged him to intervene. However Today told Corriere della Sera “I didn’t do anything, it’s not the role of the president of the FIA.”

He compared his position to that of Gianni Infantino, the head of football governing body FIFA. “Referees must be autonomous, have you ever heard Infantino say ‘Here there was a penalty, but not here?'”

“I watched the race in the country house together with the crew. They call me, Horner and Wolff, and I answered them: ‘I can’t interfere, it’s the responsibility of the marshals and the race director’.”

Aston Martin’s success partly thanks to Vettel – Krack

Sebastian Vettel deserves a measure of the credit for the progress Aston Martin has made with its car this season, says team principal Mike Krack. The four-times world champion retired at the end of last year and was replaced by Fernando Alonso.

Krack said Vettel “has his merits in where the car is today, because we had many, many meetings last year where he gave us a hint – ‘do this’ or ‘do that’ or ‘do not do this’ with the new car. So I think he has his merits in here.”

After finishing seventh in the world championship last year, Aston Martin are currently second in the standings. Asked whether it was a shame Vettel had retired just before their leap forward, Krack said: “We have to respect the decision that he took. He reflected for a long time before he made that decision and when he made it and if we have to move on, and he has to move on.

“If it’s a shame for him, yes or no, this I think you should ask him.”

Australian GP should have ended under VSC – Tost

AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost has joined the critics of the two-lap standing restart at the Australian Grand Prix, saying the race director should have used the Virtual Safety Car.

“The last red flag was unnecessary,” he told Sport1. “A Virtual Safety Car phase after Magnussen’s accident would have been enough. At the scene of the accident, the speed would have been reduced sufficiently.

“What’s more, there were only two laps to go. This would have saved the standing start and thus the accidents.”

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Comment of the day

Ferrari’s bid to have Carlos Sainz Jnr’s penalty overturned hasn’t impressed @David-br:

At the restart, Sainz was racing alongside Gasly, not Alonso, and both go in too fast. By the time they brake for the first corner, Gasly has to slam on the brakes, locking up, to avoid Alonso. Sainz goes far too deep and takes out Alonso who had been way ahead into the corner. The stewards are 100% correct in holding Sainz fully responsible.

The bit that was wrong wasn’t the penalty, it was ‘resetting’ the grid positions rather than allowing the race to continue to the first timing point.
David BR (@David-br)

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Happy birthday to Craig Woollard!

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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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17 comments on “Horner and Wolff urged me to intervene over Abu Dhabi ’21 – Todt”

  1. Not surprised Horner and Wolff made the pathetic move of calling Todt.

  2. Sorry, but as an italian who as such saw that newspaper before, “corriere della serra”?? Serra is that place where you grow plants, seems to be greenhouse in english, should be corriere della sera (sera being evening).

  3. Thanks for COTD :)

    Sainz had a good race and indeed weekend up until then, which I guess is some of the reason he was so upset by the penalty taking him entirely out of the points.

    I am a bit more sympathetic to him losing so many places because of the grid reset – and seeming to get a penalty for a bit of racing that FIA later decided ‘didn’t actually happen’. But it’s a weird one. If Alonso had taken damage after being spun into the wall and been unable to restart back in third, would Sainz really be able to say it was the ‘most unfair penalty ever’?

    Saying that, Ferrari may get it overturned given that FIA have now made a precedent of finding themselves wrong for not being consistent compared to past precedents (see under Aston Martin appeals).

    1. @david-br I doubt Ferrari gets the penalty overturned, as no precedents in favor really exist like in the Aston Martin appeal case.

      1. @jerejj I think Sainz was insisting that the stewards should have decided after talking to him after the race (as a ‘precedent’ with other drivers). But I don’t see what he could really say to change their decisions, it was pretty straight forward, plus I’m more in favour of them deciding quickly rather than altering race results after.

    2. I do think however that Gasly deserved a penalty for rejoining the track in an unsafe manner though @david-br, if indeed penalties should be given for a race start that was annulled later and only served to mess up things even more!

      1. @bascb It was definitely Gasly’s fault, I felt, but since they’re on the same team, I assumed they let it go unpenalized (as they have in the past with incidents involving drivers from the same team who take each other out0. Plus it did seem like Gasly was distracted more than anything else, not trying to close off space deliberately.

  4. Or SC to be safer, but Tost is wholly right that red-flagging so close to the end had more downsides than upsides or rather only downsides that were easily avoidable by not bothering with race suspension anymore & one of those is an unnecessarily lengthy race by winner’s overall time alongside the more obvious crash damages.

    What was the throwing at fence about? More like what would happen in ice hockey or football (the actual football).

    COTD couldn’t be more spot-on, especially in the second paragraph.

    1. Still bigging-up COTD posts 🤢

    2. I’m not convinced it would have been safe to lead the cars around through that debris… I’m not even convinced it would have been safe for the safety car. The track was a mess!

      It was anticlimactic, but I believe they handled the last lap correctly here. They couldn’t safely run behind the safety car, so a red flag was shown, and they couldn’t just call the race over because they rules don’t allow it, so they ran a lap behind the safety car to do so. They followed the rules and this was the result.

      Maybe some tweaks should be made to the rules and procedures, but the officials couldn’t really do anything else within the rules, and I don’t think anyone wants another “I know the rules but I’m going to completely ignore them to make a more exciting finish” situation…

  5. Just thinking that if they’d had the stewards/race director from Melbourne at the 2021 Abu Dhabi race then we’d have had about 10 red flags and Hamilton would be an 8 time champion.

    1. @frood19 10, how? That race only had one incident that could’ve led to red-flagging under a different mindset.

      1. @jerejj I’m just being facetious – but it’s crazy how differently things could play out with such “variety” in decision making.

  6. Vettel already explained his state of mind. At the moment he’s enjoying his time with family. Traveling with a camper and so. Still interested in what’s going on as a spectator. Doesn’t rule out the possibility that in six months he will be desperate to drive again. I think that’s normal and realistic point of view.

    1. @Jogo Yes, but regarding his decision, he’s more like Rosberg than Alonso or Schumi, i.e., firm that his full-time racing days in F1 are over.

  7. Lets adress the elephant in the room while calling a spade a spade… The simple truth is that the white powers that be did not want the 1st black f1 driver / black champion to smash the records of Michael Schumacher. That would in their eyes reduce the perceived auspiciousness and the greatness of the legacy and standing of F1. Reason being how can the 1st black f1 racer just smash everything out the park. Surely there should be atleast 1000 black F1drivers…. To at least make the sport look abit difficult and challenging at the very least to non white drivers and audiences.

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