Ted Kravitz say the FIA must prove Abu Dhabi was not a “conspiracy”

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Sky Sports F1’s Ted Kravitz says “the ultimate question is ‘would Michael Masi have made the same decision had it been Max Verstappen in the lead on old, knackered hard tyres and Lewis Hamilton behind on fresh soft tyres?’”

The FIA is now in the middle of its investigation into the happenings at the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, that saw race director Michael Masi ignore the rules of the Safety Car, which allowed Max Verstappen to easily win the race and the world title.

Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz says the main issue the FIA faces is that they have to prove his decisions weren’t made because they didn’t want Lewis Hamilton to become champion.

“In the past we’ve had teams on one [hand] going against teams on the other, it’s not this case,” Kravitz said.

“It’s the team, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes, against the governing body of the sport – and that’s where the fans feel what happened in Abu Dhabi was so wrong and where Mercedes maybe feel so wronged, and where F1 has a problem with sorting out its integrity and its confidence that people have in the sport.

“Because many fans are asking if those in charge just didn’t want Lewis Hamilton to become an eight-time World Champion, and if those in charge didn’t want Mercedes to win the Drivers’ World Championship.

“That’s the issue, whether it’s some sort of conspiracy. That’s what this commission needs to put to bed, once and for all.

“This commission from the FIA needs to put it clear there was no conspiracy here, it was just a misinterpretation, a misdirecting of our own rules – if that’s what they find.

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“Of course, the ultimate question is ‘would Michael Masi have made the same decision had it been Max Verstappen in the lead on old, knackered hard tyres and Lewis Hamilton behind on fresh soft tyres?’

“The question about that, I think, in the fans’ minds, is what’s eating away at the credibility of Formula 1.”

The main problem with Masi’s decisions is that in the penultimate lap he allowed only the lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to unlap themselves, while others behind them were not allowed, and then the race was restarted on the very next lap.

The rules dictate that all cars must unlap themselves before the race can be restarted after one additional lap, which means the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix should have ended under the Safety Car.

The way Masi played it allowed Verstappen on fresh soft tyres to easily overtake Hamilton on old worn down tyres in the final lap. An additional problem is that Mercedes kept Lewis on old tyres because they were sure the race will end under the Safety Car if the rules are followed. They could not have known the rules would be changed by the race director.

“There was that four minutes between when he decided lapped cars wouldn’t overtake, then the five cars would overtake. So what happened in that crucial four minutes,” Kravitz asked.

“And that’s what the FIA need to absolutely be totally crystal clear about, and show the fans they have explained what happened.

“Why did Masi change his mind? Did he have his mind changed for him? They have to be totally clear because it’s the credibility of the sport that fans are talking about.

“The fans think what happened was wrong, Mercedes think what happened was wrong, Lewis Hamilton thinks what happened was wrong and we need to sort that out.”

Sky F1 presenter Rachael Brookes added it’s not just fans of Lewis Hamilton who are outraged.

“I have to say it’s not just Lewis’ fans on this, it actually is wider than that and I think that’s why it’s so important we get the answers we need from the FIA.”

Fellow Sky presenter and former F1 driver Karun Chandhok also tweeted that the FIA needs to be clear in their findings.

“As I have said repeatedly, the FIA need to clarify once & for all (1) why those wrong decisions were made; & (2) how it won’t happen again,” he wrote.

“The silence is deafening & odd.”

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