Lance Stroll: “Abu Dhabi was not right. The rules are the rules.”

© LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

At Aston Martin’s 2022 car launch Lance Stroll very directly criticised the FIA for breaking its own rules in the finish of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

It is already well known that at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race director Michael Masi broke the rules of the Safety Car by only allowing the lapped cars between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen to unlap themselves, while other lapped cars behind them were not allowed to do so.

He also ignored the rule that says the Safety Car has to go in at the end of the following lap, which means the race should have ended under the Safety Car.

This basically took an almost certain race and title win from Lewis Hamilton and handed it to Max Verstappen, but it also impeded other drivers behind them, who had to deal with lapped cars that were not removed.

One of those drivers was Lance Stroll, who harshly criticised Masi’s decisions at Aston Martin’s 2022 car launch.

“Yeah, I switched off from all of it, but I do have an opinion,” Stroll said.

“My opinion is that it’s ridiculous that we didn’t go back racing in the way that we should have gone back racing.

“You can’t change the rules halfway through, at the end of a race, and tell half the cars they can overtake.

“Unfortunately, I was part of the group of the other half of the cars and couldn’t overtake on brand new soft tyres with the opportunity to pass and maybe do something.

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“It’s just never been done before and it’s important that we keep rules consistent.

“I understand it’s great to go racing and everyone wants to see the last lap of the race and the two drivers fighting for the world championship go head-to-head with one lap to go but we can’t be making up rules at the end of a race, that has to be set in stone.

“If there was maybe an error where cars didn’t pass soon enough when the safety car came out or backmarkers weren’t allowed to pass the safety car early enough and the consequence is we won’t get the whole lap of racing well, then that’s how it is.

“That is the rule, the rules have to be consistent. In Formula 1 we’ve seen some inconsistency in penalties and decision making and I think this was maybe a little bit too much. It’s important that those things are set in stone.”

Stroll’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel added the FIA should focus more on the sporting side and not on the entertainment factor as they did in Abu Dhabi.

“Last year it was always going to be a great final or great last race, because there was one winner and one loser,” Vettel said.

“Ideally, you have two winners, but that’s not how the sport is designed, or any sport is designed, so it wasn’t going to work.

“Obviously, I was in the race and wondering why we’re not released earlier in order to get the race started again, but I guess there’s a protocol and rules.

“The main thing is that going forwards there’s clarity [over] what’s happening in these sorts of situations and no questions asked anymore,” the German concluded.

Lance agreed and continued:

“Abu Dhabi was not right. The rules are the rules, when there’s a safety car, lapped cars get to overtake the safety car and then we go racing.

“There’s nothing that says half the cars can overtake and half the cars have to stay behind and then we’ll go racing.

“Those can’t be modified during a race just to put on a show, so I do agree with Seb’s comments, absolutely, if he said that.

“I’m not going to get into further detail with other things but definitely that was an example of poor consistency.

“The rules are the rules and we can’t be changing or modifying rules for entertainment.

“It has to be sport’s first and if there is something that Formula 1 or the FIA maybe did wrong or could have done differently then that’s something to review in hindsight after the race.

“But I don’t think it’s right that that happened in Abu Dhabi,” Stroll concluded.

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