Finally, the FIA has released details of their findings stemming from their “detailed analysis and clarification exercise” of the events that unfolded at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which led to Max Verstappen being crowned world champion after race director Michael Masi broke various rules that govern the use of the Safety Car.
The report in itself doesn’t contain anything that was not already known, but the FIA does admit that Masi broke Safety Car procedures when he didn’t allow all lapped drivers to un-lap themselves and didn’t allow for one more lap behind the Safety Car as was required (which would have meant that the race would have finished behind the SC and Lewis Hamilton would have been crowned champion).
However, they also note that “the results of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the FIA Formula One World Championship are valid, final and cannot now be changed”.
Below you can read the FIA’s statement and a link to the Executive Summary of the Report.
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Findings of the analysis of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix presented to the World Motor Sport Council
A report was presented to the World Council in relation to the detailed analysis and clarification exercise that has been conducted in response to the events that took place at the 2021 FIA Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The purpose of the detailed analysis and clarification exercise was to identify any lessons that can be learned from the events that took place and consider how best to provide clarity regarding the Formula 1 rules and regulations in order to preserve the competitive nature of the sport while ensuring the safety of both drivers and officials.
As part of the exercise, the Formula 1 Sporting Advisory Committee was instructed to consider the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations and key stakeholders were interviewed and consulted, including the Teams and Drivers, the Race Direction team, and the FIA staff supporting the race management team. The report sets out the findings, conclusions and recommendations arising from the detailed analysis and clarification exercise.
The report focused solely on the facts surrounding these events, and determined the following key points:
- The safety car procedure was a central topic of discussion during the detailed analysis and clarification exercise, stemming from the application of this procedure at the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP, pursuant to Articles 48.12 and 48.13 of the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations.
- The Race Director 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).
- 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.
- It was also considered that the decisions regarding the Safety Car at the end of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix likely took into account previous discussions that made clear the Formula 1 Stakeholders (FIA, Formula 1, Teams and Drivers) preference to end races under green flag racing conditions, rather than behind a safety car, when safe to do so.
- 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 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.
- The process of identifying lapped cars has up until now been a manual one and human error lead to the fact that not all cars were allowed to un-lap themselves. 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 un-lap themselves. In addition, the 2022 Formula 1 Sporting Regulations have been recently updated to clarify that “all” and not “any” cars must be permitted to un-lap themselves.
- This process of identifying lapped cars has been reviewed as part of the recommendations previously announced by the FIA President in his statement of 17 February 2022, which also includes the creation of FIA Remote Operations Centre, the integration of a new and extended team to run trackside operations as well as a review of the interactions between teams and Race Control during track running.
The [World Motor Sport Council] unanimously endorsed the contents of this report and the FIA will continue in its work to implement the recommendations identified as soon as possible.
Click here to view an Executive Summary of the Report.