After the drama and investigation following 2021’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and its controversial ending, the FIA has changed the rules which had F1 fans up in arms as Max Verstappen took the title from Lewis Hamilton.
Micheal Masi, the race director of the F1 last year, made the decision to restart the race after letting the five lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to unlap themselves. The lapped cars that didn’t sit between Hamilton and Verstappen were not allowed to unlap themselves. As we all know, once the race was restarted, Verstappen quickly overtook Hamilton thanks to his fresh rubber, allowing him to win the world championship.
Mercedes and its team principle Toto Wolff was quick to protest what had happened, but Verstappen’s win is still held despite stewards accepting that article 48.12 of the 2021 regulations “may not have been applied fully” during the end of the race.
“If the clerk of the course considers it safe to do so, and the message ‘lapped cars may now overtake’ has been sent to all competitors via the official messaging system, any cars that have been lapped by the leader will be required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the safety car,” the article reads.
Now, the word “any” in this article has been changes to “all”. This is how it reads in full:
“If the clerk of the course considers it safe to do so, and the message ‘lapped cars may now overtake’ has been sent to all competitors using the official messaging system, all cars that have been lapped by the leader will be required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the safety car.”
Wolff’s argument however was that despite this, the Eifel Grand Prix in 2020 had been handled in a different way – a way which would have favoured Mercedes during the Abu Dhabi GP of 2021.
“How can it be that 14 months ago at the Eifel Grand Prix the explanation that was given was exactly the contrary to what has happened on Sunday?” the team principal said.
“The explanation that was given that the reason why the safety car was out there so long is that all cars need to unlap themselves with the explanation that this is following the sporting regulations. Not only the decision has been taken in a totally opposite way but an explanation is being made 180-degree different to what happened 14 months ago.”
Masi has since lost his position as race director from the beginning of 2022.