The FIA has finally revealed a summary of the report into the F1’s 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix where Max Verstappen took the world championship from Lewis Hamilton. Michael Masi was removed as race director and rules were changed to stop this from happening again. But now it’s been confirmed that the win was due to “human error”, according to the report.
Despite this, the report states that Masi acted “in good faith”, which of course they would say. But it did also confirm that Masi “called the Safety Car back into the pit lane without it having completed an additional lap as required by the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations (Article 48.12).” If this rule was followed, it would have resulted in Hamilton winning the 2022 world championship.
The report continues:
“It was apparent from the analysis that there could be different interpretations of Article 48.12 and Article 48.13 of the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations, and that this likely contributed to the applied procedure.
“In combination with the objective to finish under green flag racing conditions applied throughout the 2021 season, the report finds that the Race Director was acting in good faith and to the best of his knowledge given the difficult circumstances, particularly acknowledging the significant time constraints for decisions to be made and the immense pressure being applied by the teams.”
The recommendations laid out by the report basically follow the changes that have already happened. A Virtual Race Control room will assist the race director, there will be no direct communication between teams and the race director, the rules will change behind the unlapping of cars under a safety car, and a new management team will be put in place.
These have all already been carried out by the sport, but it redefines the unlapping process:
The process of identifying lapped cars has up until now been a manual one and human error led to the fact that not all cars were allowed to unlap themselves,” the report said.
“Due to the fact that manual interventions generally carry a higher risk of human error, software has been developed that will, from now on, automate the communication of the list of cars that must unlap themselves.”
To continue to rebuild, the FIA also confirmed a new structure is being put in place where an F1 Sporting Director will be recruited, as well as a “senior regulatory legal counsel” which will “strengthen legal support” on sporting matters on race weekends.
While most of the measures have been implemented already, the report says that any unactioned moves should now happen “as a matter of priority so that the benefit of the lessons learned from the detailed analysis and clarification exercise can be maximised for the 2022 season.”
There was also confirmation that the result of the race cannot be amended, despite the “human error” element described, adding: “The results of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the FIA Formula One World Championship are valid, final and cannot now be changed.
“In accordance with the rules, Mercedes made a protest to the stewards after the race, seeking to change the race classification. The stewards dismissed the protest and Mercedes then had an opportunity to appeal that decision to the FIA International Court of Appeal, but did not do so.
“There are no other available mechanisms in the rules for amending the race classification.”