F1’s midfield runners left “speechless” and confused by controversial late restart

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Several of Formula 1’s midfield racers criticised race control’s handling of the last-lap restart in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Confusion broke out over the final minutes of the race as drivers were initially told those who were a lap down would not be given the opportunity to rejoin the lead lap. Then on the penultimate lap five of the eight drivers who were a lap down – those running between race leader Lewis Hamilton and second-placed Max Verstappen – were allowed to do so.

This decision had ramifications for several midfield drivers. Daniel Ricciardo and Lance Stroll, who finished 12th and 13th, were among those denied the opportunity to rejoin the lead lap.

Stroll alerted his team to the fact drivers were passing the Safety Car before he was informed what was happening. He made his frustration clear when informed by race engineer Ben Michell he was not allowed to join other drivers in passing the Safety Car.

“Not us, stay where you are, Safety Car is in this lap,” Michell advised him. “I don’t understand why,” Stroll replied, “I should be able to overtake the Safety Car.”

“What the fuck?” continued the irate driver as Michell said he would explain the situation after the race.

Ricciardo’s race was also compromised by the restart. His race engineer Tom Stallard called race control’s decision “a bit unusual” and told his driver after the race: “We finished P12 at the end. Obviously not enough laps and with the other cars being allowed to go after the Safety Car, then that pit stop didn’t help.”

Ricciardo said he had “no idea what they did with letting cars through.” After returning to parc ferme he added: “I’m glad I am not a part of that, whatever just happened. Seemed pretty fucked up.”

Speaking to media after the race Ricciardo was at a loss to explain why only certain cars had been allowed to un-lap themselves.

“I was confused because I got that message that they won’t overtake,” Ricciardo said. “So in my head I thought ‘that seems okay and I guess fair because Lewis had such a lead and Max has newer tyres – and this way he has to cut through a few cars if they’re going to restart the race’.”

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“Then I saw some cars overtake, so I asked ‘What do I do? Do I pass?’. And then I think Tom said ‘no, you have to stay here’.”

“I’m honestly just speechless,” Ricciardo added. “I don’t know what to make of all that, I really don’t. I need to see how it all came about.”

The next car in line for the restart was the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz Jnr. He was holding onto third place, and was confused to see the cars between him and Verstappen were not un-lapping themselves.

“What are these two guys doing?” he asked race engineer Riccardo Adami as he queued behind Stroll and Ricciardo. “They are not un-lapping themselves, they need to go.”

Some drivers who were given the wave-around on the penultimate lap were also perplexed by the decision, including Fernando Alonso, who finished eighth.

“When the Safety Car was out, I thought that we were able to overtake quickly, because normally [this] is what happens. You see the green light of the Safety Car immediately, and then you are un-lapping yourself until they remove the car,” Alonso said.

“But we didn’t have that lap, that green signal, and then two laps after the engineer told me, ‘You will not be able to un-lap yourself, the positions will stay like this.’

“One corner later, the green light came on, I said, ‘But we have the green light’. And he said ‘Yeah, you can do it now, follow Norris. And I followed Norris’. A little bit confusing, probably.”

Vettel complained the decision to let the lapped cars pass the Safety Car did not happen sooner, leaving those who were waved by too little time to catch up. “They should’ve let us pass right away, like other times,” he said.

“Obviously you have the guys fighting in the front, so you just got to clear the path. I don’t know what took so long. For us it was a shame because we didn’t have a race then because everything was just spread out.”

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2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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194 comments on “F1’s midfield runners left “speechless” and confused by controversial late restart”

  1. I’m still confused about it. The last lap of the last race seems a strange point of the season to implement new rules around safety car restarts. Really bizarre.

    1. Whilst I think there is zero chance of the Championship winner being changed at this point, it is interesting to read how much confusion Masi’s decision caused.

      I believe he tried to do what he thought was the right thing, not to favour Red Bull, but to have the title decided on track. But he inadvertently interfered in the entire race result, not just who came 1st and 2nd.

      As soon as they give all competitors the “no overtaking allowed” message, which they clearly issued because they realised there wasn’t time to have lapped cars unlap themselves (the only two options given in 48.12), they should have stuck with that call. It’s clearly within the rules and gives Max that one final chance.

      The timing of the incident was unfortunate, in the sense that one lap earlier and cars could have unlapped and Max takes a lucky but easy victory, one lap later and race finished behind the safety car. But it doesn’t change the fact that Masi knew he had to implement the “no overtaking” restart, and then subverted it with a made-up hybrid that disadvantaged numerous drivers.

      This can all be traced back to “for the show” mentality Liberty Media have pushed, seemingly at the expense of clear and consistent rules. Hopefully they remedy it for next season, because F1 deserves better.

      1. Broadsword to Danny Boy
        13th December 2021, 9:21

        “I believe he tried to do what he thought was the right thing, not to favour Red Bull”

        How on earth he could think putting Max on brand new softs right behind Lewis who is on hards that had done 40 laps was “not favoring Red Bull”. There is no way on Earth that is what he was thinking!

        To be honest I thought Max on those tyres had a pretty good shot at it with just a handful of back markers between them. And that way Masi could have pointed to the regulations and said to both Red Bull and Mercedes that it was written in the rules: it’s either that or they unlapped all the backmarkers and time ran out. Instead he ripped up the regulations and did what RB wanted, which was give Max a massive advantage.
        Nobody wants to see races won under safety car, but It didn’t need to end under the SC, they could have just pulled it in without any unlapping, and in the circumstances that was without doubt the fairest way to both drivers, although arguably still more beneficial to Max who came out of it with brand new tyres and a significantly reduced gap to the lead, compared to before before the safety car when he had next to no chance.

        Looking forward to hearing Horner’s conversation with Masi during the SC. I didn’t get it all during the race as so I don’t know if they played it all, or if the commentary went over it. Any links?

      2. @simon999 I have to agree with you. I’ve been giving Masi the benefit of the doubt, but he’s made a real mess of this decision. He should have let all the lapped cars unlap themselves, or none. He seems to have done what he did as a special circumstance to allow “racing” on the last lap, but that makes a mockery of having a rulebook in the first place, and effectively handed the race to Max on his much better tyres.

        Max is good enough to be a champion, he didn’t just luck into this one, but it’s a horrible way to win it.

        1. That’s the strange thing about this particular situation. There’s no driver or team to attribute any blame to at all. Both drivers produced a great season and both are worthy of being crowned champion.

          Whilst I think it’s almost certain Hamilton wins if no cars unlapped themselves (and a certainty if they all do), given there was only one lap left, we can’t know for sure. I’ve always been a Hamilton fan, but there would be no justice in taking the title away from Max.

          The FIA needs to be made to feel a lot of pain from this. The cumulative effect of their neglect.

          1. +1

            Hamilton fan here, but feel that his performances in the last four races were arguably the best of his career.

            But Max deserves the title based on that race 7 to 18 form, which has to be as good as anyone who’s ever won it

          2. Sos did Hamilton! Max only had the lead not as a virtue of driving but he got aided by the race director.3 occasions in a row, decisions made to later race result to favor Redbul. This can’t be coincidence.

            Ham had earned to win the race fair an square. There was no chance of max finishing the race ahead under normal legal procedures that has been followed up until the last lap. Then miracle happened defying logic and legal precedents and gave a max a massive unfair illegal advantage. It is not fair only for max to be given chance, what about other lapped cars? What about last race, everyone pit correctly then red flag unfairly. Why not red flag instantly as could be seen race was gonna obviouslu finish under sc with correct legal proceedings. Why not give the chance to everyone to chance tyres and get a standing start. Let them race once again and best one win?noone would complain including Mercedes. Massive game fixing happened in the very last min, I m sure apart from apparent max win, there were so many illegal bets were going on… This is undeniable now. Masi saying give me one sec checking the odds probably… There is no fair 9r legal ground for massi and FIA to stand on. Decision to be fair and neutral was breached, safety was ignored other driver’s rights breached. One guy only guy was given massive advantage to have an unfair race end. No ifs and buts about it, everyone saw it. Decision was made, and someone requested a favor and they granted it without any regards to everyone around.

          3. “ no option but to ‘finish’ the race under yellow condition handing Lewis the title.”

            Think this might be difficult in court, then I think it would be either dis regard this race from the championship or re-do the race

      3. F1 could remove DRS first, but I don’t think they will.

      4. @simon999 that is for the CAS to decide, Daimler has got a a solid case and if the decision goes their way there would be no option but to ‘finish’ the race under yellow condition handing Lewis the title.

        Biggest problem where masi incriminates himself massively is ONLY allowing cars in front of max to unlap themselves and no other cars in attempt to give him an unfair advantage being directly behind lewis for the last lap sprint restart , the argument why its unfair is because other cars like 3rd place carlos did not receive the same treatment that competitors expect from race control and couldn’t potentially challenge max at the restart due to traffic.
        Masi couldn’t allow ALL cars to unlap earlier because track workers was still clearing the track so you cant have ‘unlapped’ traffic driving at race speed near them, masi also realized that if the race restarted with unlapped cars in place Lewis could easily gap max early as he would sprint to start the last lap whilst max was ‘stuck’ behind lapped cars and cant overtake them until he crosses the line, this would almost certainly make Lewis the winner because he could build a tiny but crucial gap, this option wasn’t chosen because imo race control did not want lewis to win so did not attempt conventional means to restart the race.
        To add more if Masi allowed ALL cars to unlap themselves after the hazard was cleared the race would finish under yellow as the sc cannot come in until one lap after the last lapped car passes, again race control did not do this because imo they did not want lewis to win.
        This is why you have this bizarre made up rule where some cars can unlap but not others.
        race control wanted Max to have the BEST opportunity to challenge lewis at all costs for at least 1 green lap, they panicked when they realized the laps was running out and hastily made up non existent rules.

        Where Mercedes have a great case is that they can easily prove thanks to discovery that race control conspired to deliberately meddle in the race and artificially make new rules on the fly to
        a) force one last green lap running regardless of standard protocol
        b) artificially place max in the best place to challenge Lewis in the restart whilst other competitors did not receive the same treatment.

        1. +1.

          Masi manipulated the rules to give Horner his “miracle”.

        2. Stephen Thompson
          13th December 2021, 13:53

          I can’t see Merc appeal working, since when do the FIA allow something that will prove they don’t know what they are doing :(

          I wanted Lewis to win the race and championship and he was comfortably doing that until the mess at the end.

    2. Max: Netflix champion

      1. Thats not fair mate.
        Max had nothing to do with the final decision and is clearly an incredible driver.
        Im a Lewis fan, and i feel he wronged by Masi, but Lewis would have taken that result as well if the Masi handed it to him how he handed it to Max.
        I would like to think that i would still argue that Masi messed it up and that Max would be the deserving winner if roles were reversed, but obviously i cant prove this.
        Either way, the problem is with the FIA, you cant blame Max or Lewis for anything in that last race.

        1. It completely is fair. Lewis would be champion if the race hadn’t been manipulated for artificial entertainment. Max didn’t deserve the championship as he was nowhere near in the race.

        2. Sorry, Max’s driving has been more erratic than my daughter’s who just got her driver’s permit. He’s literally not following the road when he’s racing and heading in all kinds of unexpected directions. Lewis’s racing moves are smooth and dynamic like a panther’s compared to Max’s 1980s Pole Position broken-line type of driving.

          1. not only that, even ham was loosing, he didnt seem once to drive in a collusion course. max from start to finish, races like there is no tomorrow, and has zero care/thought about what can/could/would happen! he doesnt think and act, he acts and think or not later… all his career is like this, i thought for a few races he was in a good direction, but he just goes back to his roots and continues crash or run away, it is my race my corner noone allowed to take it from me… and worst part is that masi allowed/enabled him for so long!

        3. Maybe not Max directly but don’t forget RB’s extreme lobbying over the radio, and RB is Max, Max is RB. I cant imagine Netflix taking that exchange out of the film… or will they?
          Masi is the 1st ever non-driver participant to win the driver championship.

        4. @Scottdog – the drivers are almost irrelevant, Race control are supposed to be impartial. If they did this to Max (favouring Hamilton) I’d have been equally peeved. If the FIA get away with doing this (and they probably will) what’s the point?

          I’m still deliberating if I want to continue with following F1.. hate it when situations like this unfold, always the actions of one to spoil it for the masses.

  2. Funny how Lando says it’s always a 50/50 decision while all the other drivers here said they were expecting to be allowed to unlap themselves.

    1. 50 – 50 to unlap or not.
      Not 50% or less of lapped cars.

  3. Seems like a lot of the midfield drivers felt that the lapped cars should have been let by sooner, which is probably right. Race control boxed themselves in a bit with their premature “lapped cars won’t be allowed to overtake” message and it took time to sort out. However the right decision was made in the end to ensure we finished under green flag conditions – just a shame there wasn’t enough time to allow them all through.

    1. Due to leaving back markers between 2nd and 3rd meant that sainz could not challenge for a chance to win or come second.
      This shows it was orchestrated and definitely was not fair. Due to that it was not the correct outcome to the race going by the rules.
      I think that is clear to see. Anyone that had money on the race has a right to feel robbed and will be interesting when it goes to cas.
      I can not see the wdc being overturned as max and redbull did nothing wrong but I can see merc taking this all they way to paint the fia (Liberty media) in the bad light it deserves and pursue being compensated.

      1. Other teams should follow suit and point to the numerous times the fia has benefited Mercedes to the detriment of the sport during the hybrid era. On balance they’ve still been incredibly favored by the fia this era and only lost this year because Hamilton isn’t on Max’s level

        1. You are another one of those people who constantly claim when Max wins it is all him and when Lewis wins it is the car. You people can never be convinced. Lewis was just as good as Max this year. A few more mistakes than Max granted but they are on the same level. Also can you provide facts in black and white pertaining to the FIA Bias towards Merc? I don’t want hearsay I want cold hard facts in the form of documents, behind the scene conversations etc. I don’t think you can provide these so it is just your own opinion which counts for nothing.

          1. No, lewis had a faster car and was still only in contention because he and his teammate wrecked max. His critics were proven right–he only wins with a huge car advantage or weak competition like massa. The ‘greatest of all time’ doesn’t lose the wdc with a car that wins the wcc. Very satisfying to see the only driver ever disqualified for lying to the stewards cheat and still lose

        2. Give us the cases please.

          Remember they need to be as obvious as Masi’s breach of the rules yesterday.

          Don’t expect to hear from you

          1. Mexico 2016, Germany 2018, Canada 2019, Bahrain 2021. Four races gifted to Hamilton by the fia off the top of my head.
            Let’s not forget 2017 rule change to address Mercedes weakness, 2018 tire compounds change, 2019 banning Ferrari’s engine, DAS (which would’ve been banned if a competitor developed it).
            Any team without a British lead driver wouldve been targeted by the fia like they did Ferrari in the early aughts by the regs

        3. @realnigelmansell you cant be any more wrong and hypocritical then you already are… hybridization came from renault to begin with to stay in the sport and be relative to commercial market with the tech it would bring!!!

          Renault who was supplying redbul the engines! please come again with your nonsensical anology… it is always same with redbul, if it benefits them, it is perfectly legal and ok, if not it must be cheating!

    2. So, is it fair that, as pointed out in the article, most of those further down the field had their race compromised?

      If there wasn’t enough time, you can’t change the rules in an arbitrary fashion to get the results you want, and do so in a way that arbitrarily disadvantages many others in the process.

      Max was the only one who gained from that decision – most of the rest of the field was put at a disadvantage by that call. Why should he benefit at the expense of everyone else?

      1. But Bottas was passed by two At, so they had no problem with it.
        Sainz did not even tried.

        1. Because the AT only had Schumacher (who promptly got out of the way on the start/finish line) between them and Bottas, and there was nobody between Bottas and Sainz, yet Sainz had Ricciardo and Stroll in front of him, and Stroll didn’t let them pass until turn 5.

        2. So, because your team won, everyone else can get screwed over? You really don’t care for the sport, do you – all you want is to win at any price, and everyone else must be made to pay for it.

          1. +1 thank you…

            redbul and redbul fans are summed up perfectly…

            worst part was horner uttering: “we” redbully need only one lap. masi: your wish is my command here you are, everyone else stay put…

            unbelievable double standards, what is worse they even abused and mis used the word any = all and changed it to mean not quite all or just any car we like as a defence! this is disgrace for the sport.

            The Race Director stated that the purpose of Article 48.12 was to remove those lapped cars that would “interfere” in the racing between the leaders and that in his view Article 48.13 was the one that applied in this case.
            This was even more disgusting because there were 20 drivers racing! Are they not allowed to race fairly? The rule applied in a way to only benefit single person out of all the 20 (18 after 2 cars retirement!)

            This ruling at the end cant stand in the court if the justice to be served. Otherwise the justice is a yoke, like Alonso said once, but hope palmer will be found and karma will be served!

    3. It really wasn’t the right decision frankly. They should have stuck with their original decision rather this half assed which gave us this farce.

  4. Universal condemnation. Quality stuff. GPDA should get involved, the time for being quiet and pretending FIA have everything under control is over. They’re being pressured by F1 to make things more exciting, being pressured by teams to influence results and penalties. Someone needs to apply the pressure to have sporting integrity, lord knows they’re not listening to the fans.

    1. Agree, but integrity seems to have lost hold throughout the world these days. It is more important to be represented on social media and be “liked” than it is to be real these days. Sad times all the way around. F1 was an escape from the ridiculous reality hat we are faced with from our world leaders. Now it has been compromised too.

    2. Yeah, the drivers need to stand against this ruling as it was clearly unfair. This could happen to any of them. It was an unacceptable end of a race and championship.

      1. The Race Director stated that the purpose of Article 48.12 was to remove those lapped cars that would “interfere” in the racing between the leaders and that in his view Article 48.13 was the one that applied in this case.

        Can you believe the justification? This ignores everyone else on the track to just benefit a single person, who did have no business in that attempt being 12 seconds behind twice! if he really had a chance he should have been behind ham’s neck whole race… than they could call this a clear justification… nope, only one person to benefit when he had otherwise 0 chance of coming through even he had a rocket ship under neath him, as ham would buzz away at the start!

  5. Is the reason they couldn’t let them through sooner because the track wasn’t clear and you can’t have a handful of cars going round faster than safety car pace to rejoin the back?

    Who was behind Sainz? Were they denied an opportunity to fight for a podium on the last lap because there were lapped cars in the way?

    1. It was Yuki, so RBR are unlikely to find an issue with that, but other drivers were affected.
      Even Sainz lost a chance at P2 or even a victory.
      This ruling was only made for x2 cars in an entire field, and thats what is not fair.
      Points mean money, and that is why the rules are specifically written in the way they are written, and not in a way that only considers those fighting for the title.
      Whoever wrote the rules the way they are would have considered this, only to be undone by 1 silly decision by the RD.

      1. Thanks, I wasn’t quite sure how it played out with lapped cars between other drivers fighting for position. They may have well instructed the rest of the field to peel off into the pitlane and let the 2 cars go round by themselves. Awful stuff.

        1. Button won Canada after a safety car from last position. All drivers should have the potential to win the race after the safety car returns to the pit.
          Masi made sure only one car could win it and denied the other trans and drivers.

          1. At least two cars could win. But I get it when you think max is the better driver so it’s a slam dunk. But theoretically two could win, and Sainz when he wad able to pass the others cars with blue flags. He did not even tried it BTW.

          2. @erikje

            Theoretically all cars could win, very very very low chances but theoretically any car remaining in the race on the last lap could win.

            But actually only one car could win after Masi’s decision and it did win.

          3. Exactly: Hamilton had next to no chance to defend against Max with his fresh tyres. This was a much more extreme difference than Hamilton vs Perez earlier, and Hamilton would have known then he didn’t have to overtake immediately, whereas on the last lap of the race…

            Masi handed the win to Max on a silver platter, creating rules on the fly which gave him the best chance. I’m not suggesting he did it to let Max win, but that was always going to be the results of going green with no lapped runners between them in that circumstance. Had it been done in compliance with the rules, that’s fair enough, though gutting for Lewis, but this was not.

        2. Yes, this exactly. Farcical.

        3. Exactly. Race Control had total lack of consideration of the rest of the field.
          If we want proper WWE rules, then lets just put them on the grid by themselves for 1 lap with both having fresh soft tyres. It would make just as much sense as what happened on Sunday.
          At least make it fair if you are going to change the rules on the last lap of the last race of the season.
          It must be said, that this is of no fault of Max or RBR, they both do deserve the title, but unfortunately this race was title deciding, and this race was not run fairly.
          The win though was not made by the overtake Max pulled off, however good it was, it was decided by Race Control. It was won because of ‘strategy’. and in my view, according to the regulations, Mercedes made the right call, as there were only 2 viable options according to regulations, start with the lapped cars in place, or let them all by and start the race on the following lap, but we somehow go a 3rd option which isn’t in the rules anywhere.
          If Lewis pitted and was behind Max on older tyres, I would say the same thing.
          i’ve said it before. F1 is about all the teams on the grid and not just the front 2, and this ruling was made for only the front 2 cars.
          They say this is all in the name of going racing, but they were happy to award wins and points for a race that didnt even happen in Spa

          1. Fergus sings the blues
            13th December 2021, 11:10

            Post of the year @ScottDog. Spot on analysis of the situation.

            I think Merc needs to pursue this for the good of the sport otherwise there is a danger that this becomes WWE. Having a referee who can change the rules for the benefit of the show is open to corruption and goes against sporting integrity. Either the FIA sort this out in house or it should be taken to Cas to sort, either way we cannot allow Masi or his replacement (I see a resignation or termination in the near future) being allowed to influence a race or championship in such a fashion.

            The two viable options would make Hamilton champion – the hybrid “illegal” option meant the referee decided the championship unfairly.

            The same is also true for stewards choosing not to investigate an incident mid race – if there is no new evidence then they do not re-open the case. This is also open to abuse, corruption and for the ‘benefit of the show’. In a properly run sport you cannot have this level of opaqueness, open to normal human bias.

      2. It was Bottas in 4th. Tsunoda and Gasly both passed him on the last lap. Red Bull definitely had no complaints with that!

        1. And that’s because it wad rigged too of course

    2. They were probably trying to gift lewis yet another sham win. Thankfully they did the right thing in the end

      1. And there you go again. Sham win, the guy dominated the entire race passing your so call Super Max at the start on harder tyres. Poor Max needed his mate Checo to hold Lewis up while he caught up. People are quick to criticize Lewis when Bottas helped him but when Checo does it then it somehow ampifies how amazing Max is. The real sham are fans like you regardless of who you support and you ill thought comments.

        Also last I checked it was Masi buckling under pressure from Horner “we only need one lap” and then allowing Max with fresh tyres to attack Lewis on 45 lap old tyres. The cheek of Masi to claim it was racing. I gurarntee you had the tables been turned the race would have ended under SC.

        1. First everybody says perez helped a lot

          second, you do understand that the first mistake was to forbid the drivers to overtake, like ricciardo said above, which means this incoherent decision favors mercedes ….
          then the change of ruling was way more in line with the usual handling, but 2 laps to late….

      2. Rob are you the latest WUM?

    3. Broadsword to Danny Boy
      13th December 2021, 9:27

      Several cars further back didn’t unlap and therefore weren’t able to race the ones that should have been in front of them for a chance of points, e.g. Ricciardo I think.

  6. Perez could disrupt Hamilton’s race because they followed the rules all race. On the final lap, no one was allowed to disrupt Max’s race that is special race condition. It is a fraud.
    They denied other drivers from Sainz to last place the chance of winning the race.
    Masi effectively turned it into two racing categories. F1-A and F1-B.

    1. They wouldn’t be allowed to disrupt Max’s race like Checo because they were not on the lead lap. they would have all been shown blue flags and told to get out of the way. Checo did absolutely what any other teammate should do. I wonder if Max could have caught Lewis if those lapped cars would have just moved let Max through after the blue flags. Would he have caught him by the last turn instead of on turn 5?

      1. ham would have started differently and fly off into the distance before max was able to step on it! lapped cars sure would pull aside to let max pass, but with even a rocket engine, he would not make that gap by the end, maybe 2-3 laps sure, but in 1 lap after the start with no drs! only slipstream? close to impossible! unless he had one guy after the other line up and give him slipstream to sling shot him into space!

    2. Never looked on it that way, but it’s an even bigger stink now!

  7. Masi invented a duel ignoring written and usually applied rules which Mercedes certainly factored-in when they decided not to pit Lewis. I can’t blame Red Bull for crying for a decision that suits their interest but it’s up to FIA to do it by the book.

    the combination of (i) not all lapped cars given the chance to overtake SC and join the lead lap and (ii) SC in before the usual time looks like a tailored made decision after Horner call saying “we need 1 lap”.

    1. They only put themselves in this position because they were trying to gift lewis the race by not letting the cars unlap themselves, then got in a time crunch. Everyone is so used to lewis getting special treatment anything else feels weird

      1. Rob, I believe Mercedes was counting on the rules when they made their call. It’s like a football match the ref changes the rule by saying a red carded player can be replaced and no offsides will be called against his team to guarantee a dramatic end. I would accept that in WWE or reality TV, not in a sport with rules that are supposed to be predictable.

        1. So, Mercedes made a choice and a wto g one for that. So now masi is to blame of course.
          Losers

          1. Erickje.

            Do you think that Masi’s decision was fair on all he field?

            If you do. Explain how not letting Sainz fairly battle Max for 2nd (or 1st) was OK

            Can you answer for once, as all you do is leave pithy anti-Hamilton / Merc comments. For once, join in a debate.

          2. @banbrorace

            Can you answer for once, as all you do is leave pithy anti-Hamilton / Merc comments. For once, join in a debate.

            To (badly) translate a Spanish saying: “You’re trying to get pears from an elm”.

      2. As well, if Max didnt pit he wouldnt have been left with all those lapped cars between himself and Lewis.
        They had 2 options:
        1) They start the race with lapped cars in place, which considering they wanted to get the race going would have been fair to all drivers in the field.
        2) They let lapped cars unlap themselves, which according to regulations would never leave enough time for the race to restart.
        Mercedes made the correct strategic call according to the regulations, there was no way Max was going to have a go at Lewis without the involvement of Michael Masi.

        1. @ScottDog
          And what would have prevented them from unlapping all cars earlier?
          I think the main mistake was giving the order that no one is allowed to unlap. They realised the mistake and had to go to a half baked solution to get to the right result: resume the race.

          1. Broadsword to Danny Boy
            13th December 2021, 9:29

            Debris and/or workers on the track!

            The unlapping cars have to exceed SC speed!

          2. Because the track was still live with marshals? If you haven’t got a problem having cars doing their own thing at different points around the track you don’t need a safety car and would use a VSC.

          3. They didn’t unlap cars earlier because there were people on the track clearing Latifis car

        2. Wrong, max already cleared all the cars before his pitstop.
          If they did not pitted he would have been the second car behind Lewis with newer tires. Still a good position. Red bull gambled on a late lap and they did good.
          Mercedes made the wrong choice and lost.

          1. But he did pit, and then the race director changed the rules to nullify the disadvantage he caused himself.

          2. Hardly a gamble. He had nothing to lose. He was 11 seconds a lap behind and lapping at around the same pace despite being on far fresher tyres.
            I keep seeing people say Red Bull won with their ‘strategy’. They did not. They were squarely beaten on pace. They had no answer to the Mercedes and Hamilton. All decisions around strategy were free punts, all had nothing to lose because of the gap back to 3rd place.

            Perez was the only one who tried and almost had an effect on the race, by parking up on the apex’s blocking Hamilton. Once cleared, Hamilton then easily pulled away again. His early ‘retirement’ was laughable though. Pretty certain he was under-fuelled in order to stay with the front two and have an affect on the race. Quite inventive of Red Bull to pull that, the way Perez responded to the request to retire suggests he wasn’t in on the plan as he sounded surprised as everything was running fine according to his senses.

        3. Does that mean Masi can receive an Assistant World Champion trophy?

          That would only seem fitting in the new Made For TV Racing Farce Series.

    2. @jcost @realnigelmansell It was an odd one for sure. Still Mercedes could have pitted Lewis and get behind Verstappen and try to overtake because in that race they clearly had a faster pace. Still Hamilton opened the door for Verstappen in the final lap and let him through. I was expecting more from Hamilton as it was the final round.

  8. According to the rule “once the last lapped car has passed the leader the safety car will return to the pits at the end of the following lap”.
    The last two words of that phrase are key. In its rush to get the race restarted, F1 waved the five cars between the two title contenders though on the same lap that the safety car entered the pits. Had the rule been followed as it is written, the race would not have restarted as the safety car would have entered the pits on the last lap of the race.

    1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      13th December 2021, 9:10

      Reading the decision because a different rule was adhered to it over-rides the rule that was broken so in the minds of the FIA everything is correct and proper.

      It needs all teams who feel wronged to make a protest to get Masi sorted out once and for all.

      1. Removing Masi should have been done a long time ago, but the illegitimate result would still stand. Masi’s rigging of the match needs to be removed as a priority.

      2. But saying the fia judged it did nothing wrong and followed its own rules is the same as you being on the jury of your own trial. Your never going to give your self a guilty verdict.
        The steward / rd is there to judge on rule and regs breaches by the teams not themselves. This will go to cas for independent arbitration.
        I can not see an overturning of the decision as I don’t see max or redbull did anything wrong but merc have to do it to get clarity or fia will keep behaving in this manner.
        Let’s be honest it’s not a good look for f1 no matter who you support and to any new comer it looked like a rigged farce.

  9. If their intention was to ensure at least one lap of racing, why didn’t they red flag the race with three laps to go? They couldn’t follow the usual procedures with the time they had to use, and ended up given one driver a tremendous advantage with how they dealt with it.

    They should rule out the event from the championship. Means it’s a tie, Max still wins on count back and the record books will at least show what a debacle they turned F1 into.

    What a farce 🤷‍♂️

    1. So bending the rules in favour of Lewis is no problem. I get it :)

      1. It is clear, for you, only rules should be bent to favour Max.

    2. A red flag wasn’t required and doing so would hand Hamilton a huge advantage as he was on much older tyres. Whatever decision they made would have been unfair to one driver.

      The main issue here is that there shouldn’t be a list of options for Masi to pick – there should be a clear procedure to follow in all circumstances. “If the safety car is deployed with x laps remaining, the race is red flagged. Any change of tyres incurs a 5 place grid drop for the restart.” Simple, fair and can be applied consistently every time. You could add “at the start of the 2nd lap behind the safety car, lapped cars may unlap themselves. They must drive at a delta speed per sector.” This would mean there’s no decision on when to allow cars to unlap – they can go on the 2nd lap and can catch back up – the sector where the incident has taken place can have a very slow delta time or you could say between certain points, the pit lane speed limiter has to be engaged to ensure they slow sufficiently.

      We’re in this situation because the rules aren’t tight enough and this is a problem we’ve known about for years. Far too much is subjective and isn’t measurable. Track limits, safety cars, drivers slowing down to start their quali lap, drivers pushing each other off… These should all have simple, measurable rules in place and just like the weight of the car or the amount of fuel, you can apply the rules and come out with a clear result that no-one can disagree with.

      I appreciate that’s an idealistic view and you’ll have incidents that aren’t clear but it would resolve 90% of the issues with the rules we have today.

      1. @petebaldwin but EVERY decision running up to the restart went Max’s way so how is that fair to other drivers not only Lewis? Carlos was disadvantaged because lapped car was not moved out of the way hence he couldn’t potentially challenge max.

        Masi only ordered lapped cars sandwiched between max and Lewis to get out of the way to give max the best possible chance of overtaking Lewis when everyone else is stuck behind lapped cars. How is that fair to other drivers?

        It feels like merc was in a checkmate situation. if they brought Lewis in rb would keep max out for position and masi would end the race under yellows..It was the right call to be cautious and keep lewis out(especially after the Saudi delayed red flag joke) because it looked like the race would finish under yellows or possibly one lap with lapped traffic in place(Lewis would win as max cant overtake lapped cars under the restart and Lewis could sprint early to start the last lap and gain valuable seconds breathing room ) but they didn’t realize that masi invented new rules on the fly to move lapped cars that was ONLY in front of max out of the way so he was right behind lewis on fresh softs… again how is that “fair”?

        I hope the FIA have a good legal team when this goes to court because it looks like a slam dunk win for Mercedes to reverse the race result.

      2. @petebaldwin

        I don’t think the issue is lack of rules, but lack of enforcement. We do have rules regarding track limits, anything beyond the white line is not the track. But it’s not enforced consitently: sometimes it is, other times just in specific corners, that may well change throughout the weekend. We do have rules regarding drivers slowing down, they have a minimum delta time to adhere to. It’s just not enforced consistently.

        Regarding safety cars, it’s arguably one of the things that can be measured. You might have an incident where a driver crashed into a barrier and the car and all the debris is in a small section of the track, or you can have an incident where two drivers crashed into each other and they’re leaving bits of their cars throughout the track on their way back to the pits. These would need different consideration, and the safety car periods would probably be quite different in duration. Let’s not forget that we didn’t have VSC until Bianchi’s fatal accident, I wouldn’t want any change in the rules to improve the show at the expense of safety.

        I don’t think anyone would argue that, had this not been the last race (and a title decider, at that), the race would’ve ended peacefully under SC conditions. Brazil 2012 was the last race, a title decider, and it ended under SC conditions. Can you imagine Horner’s reaction if someone had told him then “Yeah, we don’t want the title decided under SC, so we’re red flagging the race and then restarting it for two laps so Seb and Fernando can fight it out on track.”?

      3. @petebaldwin
        Nicely put. The only thing I would add is that rules are not going to cover every situation as each will have its own nuances. There needs to be some element of flexibility for Race Control to manage unique situations on track though. I think to some degree 48.13 sort of gave Masi the authority to do what he did but its not entirely clear. I think Masi was trying to do the right thing but time was against him so he was just trying to expedite the process (you can understand Mercs frustration here). His decision helped some while hurt others. I am also curious how much lobbying the team principles where doing throughout this SC period and how that could have impacted what should have been timely decisions to get issued. I mean look at Jedah when Max was told to let Lewis past, but Lewis had no knowledge of it until after they hit.

        Me personally thinks that this was just bad timing and bad luck for Merc and Lewis. I don’t really have issue with getting the lapped cars out of the way for the top runners in general. When you look over the entire season, Lewis and Merc benefited from various situations and they pulled the short straw this time around. It hurts more because this time was the title deciding situation. I don’t believe Masi plays favorites, just that he lacks the ability to control situations and has proven time and time again that he’s not cut out for this job.

  10. I fully understand that Masi didn’t want the championship to be decided behind the safety car. This season was far too good to have a anticlimax like that at the end. On the other hand, there is this rule, or common feature, that drivers are allowed to unlap themselves behind the SC. I believe that Masi wanted both, but he ran out of time. I think it would have been fairer to have no drivers be allowed to lap themselves, but then the last lap would have been a massacre with drivers desperately trying to get out of Max’s way but also trying to gain positions. Entertaining yes, but also controversial.

    I think that the semi-decision to allow half of the field to unlap themselves was the wrong (split second) call in the end and I can imagine how robbed Hamilton and Mercedes must feel.

    1. And it’s not like Max would be forced to recover to a striking distance he was before the crash, Max was 12 sec behind. All had to do was follow the rule book, it’s not Lewis fault that there was no time left to let everybody unlap themselves.

      1. Please do read the rulebook @jcost. Masi did follow those rules. But this time it was the first time it was applied in this way. I understand all the confusion, but the rules were followed correctly and in the spirit of the sport all teams agreed to.

        1. Could you be specific? My conclusions, after reading the rules, (which of course may be wrong) were:

          1.) 15.3 is unlikely to override 48.12 or 48.13, because those rules are specific written regulations about those situations, whereas 15.3 is a catch-all with no specificity.

          2.) 48.12 came into effect as soon as the official messaging system sent out the message to all drivers that “no overtaking allowed”. The regulation states the only other option is to send “lapped cars may overtake” to all competitors, which was never done.

          3.) 48.12 was in effect before 48.13 was issued. This one is difficult to conclude because there is no clear hierarchy or precedent to fall back on. You could argue 48.13 was issued as an over-ride, but equally you could argue 48.13 cannot be applied until 48.12 conditions are met, once in effect. You could also argue 48.13 can’t ever be applied until 48.12 is applied (since it states all competitors must receive one message or the other, before any safety car restart).

          I can’t initially see where Masi had the discretion to issue a partial retraction of 48.12 and introduce a new version of that rule that allows only five cars to unlap themselves, whilst disadvantaging all other cars.

          1. +1 article 48 reads as a procedure with caveats. Each sub clause leads onto the one following. In the decision instead of clarifying, the stewards took Masi’s ‘interpretation’, but no interpretation was necessary, he was following procedure then he deviated. It’s not possible for him to explain within the regulations why he deviated. They mention article 15.3.e but that article just tells us he is the final authority in carrying out the regulations governing the use of the safety car. There is wiggle room within the clauses but what he did defied article 48.12, they say only partly, but the rule is so straightforward he should explain why he needed to do so and why it’s legal to do so.

        2. He didn’t follow the rules, that’s the whole issue.

    2. *And it’s not like Max would be forced to recover to a striking distance he was before the crash, Max was 12 sec behind. All Masi had to do was follow the rule book, it’s not Lewis fault that there was no time left to let everybody unlap themselves.

    3. @matthijs Do read the stewars decision in the published documents on the FIA website.

      It states that there is no rule that *all* cars are required to unlap themselves. The intent of the rule is a wish from all the teams to remove the backmarkers so they won’t interfere with the battle at the front.

      So Race Control is exactly that in the spirit of the rule the teams all agreed to.

      Yes, this might have been the first time ever to execute the rule this way. But just like the season, it was unprecedented. The lack of precedent is why Mercedes are crying foul, but the rules are clear and applied is the interest of the sport all teams wanted.

      1. It seems to me you should re-read it once more, what the Red Bull offered to counter Mercedes argumentation and what FIA argued in its defense.

      2. But if Masi had not initially announced ‘no unlapping at all’ then Mercedes would have pitted Hamilton and the last lap would have been a fair fight (and a different result). When Masi panicked and changed his mind it was too late to pit, and only one result was likely. The final lap was not a race, it was a farcical travesty. The real race had already been won by Mercedes. It could only be overturned by the officials, not by racing.

        1. I dont think Mercedes had the time to do a pit stop.
          After the first lap the gap just wasnt there anymore and they would have fallen back.
          At this time it was still unclear if the race would resume and it would have certainly been a big gamble.

        2. Red Bull got in the pits before that was announced. That would have resulted in Lewis being behind Max and having to try and overtake him. I think we all know how that likely would have ended….

      3. @marcusaurelius Thank you for the insights. I disagree with your assessment about Mercedes, because I think it is fair that they protest. But I like the basic principles that apply in other sports (like football or tennis etc) that in the end, the referee is always right. Not in a literal way, but that he will always have the last word and that is the end of it.

      4. @marcusaurelius if “Race Control is exactly that in the spirit of the rule the teams all agreed to.”
        if that is true WHY didn’t race control remove lapped traffic in front of carlos sainz in 3rd..is he not a front runner? Are discretionary rulings only allowed to be selectively used when they benefit Max and no other car?! Again Masi has cornered himself with contradictory on the fly rules in the run up to the final lap, he panicked when he saw the laps running out and the race might finish under yellows handing lewis the wdc. Masi wanted one more green lap and to give max the BEST opportunity to overtake Lewis, so broke FIA protocol creating new rulings to warp max behind lewis and have one green lap.

        The best scenario compromise was to start with lapped cars in place but that was a no go because it would not benefit max as he would be stuck in traffic (cannot overtake until he crosses the line when Lewis would be in T1 already)and Lewis would get valuable seconds breathing room to go on to win.

        Merc have a solid case to get the results reversed.

    4. Lewis Verstappen
      13th December 2021, 8:19

      We all understand what Masi wanted. But it should not care. He wanted to offer us a great final? That’s not up to him! It has been way too much about him this season.

      1. And you wanted Lewis to win.
        So ending unnecessary behind the safety car would your dream scenario.

        1. And as the court of appeal may indeed prove, the correct decision.

        2. I wanted Lewis to win, but went into this race saying either would be a worthy champion. I still think Max is so, but that doesn’t change the fact that the race director got this very wrong, breaking the regs and making up rules on the fly. That’s not sport, it’s a farce. It is not Max’s fault, it is not Lewis’ fault, it is not the teams’ fault, but all on Masi.

      2. Exactly – it is supposed to be a sport. What happens happens according to rules and shouldn’t be manipulated. You would never see this in any other sport.

        1. WWF Professional Wrestling comes to mind, which level of clownerie F1 as just reached.

  11. What does it matter, the back markers blocking Max were out of the way, meaning the title rivals had a fair last lap battle. Time to graciously accept Merc were beaten over the entire season, even with a dominant car AND a huge dose of luck, and look forward to next year.

    1. Yes clear the way for Max but block Sainz at having fair go for second …or do you think he is not allowed that.
      By the way Newey stated live on Sky that the Red Bull was slightly the best package over the season… he should know…..so not the most dominant car or do you know more than Newey.?

      1. I think Max’s performance over the season has been overrated by many due to a dislike for Hamilton. The Red Bull was quicker around Yas Marina (Max and Perez in qualifying) get Max couldn’t get anywhere near Lewis when there are changing variables and tyre preservation in the race. Lewis showed why he’s the better driver this year.

      2. I didn’t find newey saying this btw, I think mercedes fans have quite some inventive, however certainly mercedes was marginally the best car, not what I’d call dominant.

    2. meaning the title rivals had a fair last lap battle

      Your understanding of the word “fair” is quite questionable.

      1. Why is that?
        Mercedes had te same pitstop options red bull used.
        It was their choice not to pit

        1. I disagree. All teams have a rolling strategy constantly being updated. If this accident happened with 10 laps to go everyone pits for softs. With 5 laps to go a calculation by Merc was made that at most one racing lap would occur. The most likely situation was this would finish under a safety car. If max does not pit then it is 43 lap old hards vs 20 lap old hards. Merc feels they can win that, but it would be close. If Max stops he gives up track position for new tyres, but will have lapped cars in the way. The merc strategists calculated correctly that either the race starts with Max directly behind on hards or behind lapped cars on softs as per the rules. Merc would never pit because Max would stay out and the likelihood of the race finishing under safety car was the most likely outcome due to the position of the crash on the lap. The fact that the race director originally made the correct decision with regard to the lapped cars to get a last racing lap, and then changed the rules to give Max and overwhelming advantage is the definition of breaking sporting integrity. This not the case of a referee missing an incident or not seeing it. This is the case of a referee not adhering to the procedures set in the rules. The nearest I can come to this in a football match, the world cup final is as follows. The ball is at the goalies feet in the penalty area, no opposition player is within 12 metres. 2 outfield players have a clash of heads and the match is stopped with 30 seconds to go. The referee decides there will be a drop ball, but it is between the goalie and the striker and no players from the goalies team is allowed in the penalty box. The goalie is not allowed to just drop on the ball. In this case the goalie probably has more chance of stopping a goal than Lewis had of keeping Max behind him.
          Watch Horner’s face on the podium when he reaches across to shake Lewis’s hand he has a real guilty face. I do not blame Horner, Max or Red Bull they are trying to gain an advantage, the referee’s job is to be impartial and fair and follow the rules and procedures of the sport. I can honestly say in all the years I have refereed basketball; I referred as I saw the game I never took outside influences even though I played in one of the leagues. What happened on court within the rules decided the game. Did I make mistakes of course, were they honest one yes. Did I walk off court and think maybe there were decisions that I could of changed, yes .Did it affect the outcome of the game no and that feeling probably happened maybe a maximum of 5 time in all the hundreds of games, did I manipulate results no.
          To be fair the Masi whatever he decided would be controversial, but it needed to happen within the rules and normal F1 situations. If he wanted to race then red flag it would have given a show of 5 laps to the end. There would be a high probability of an incident and that would have to sorted out by the stewards. Secondly run the race to the end under safety car, allow all cars to unlap themselves and it finishes under a safety car as per the rules. Everyone apart from Merc and Lewis fans would be up in arms, but is in the rules. The ONLY way as per the rule book to race the final lap apart from red flagging it, is for the racing to start with the lapped cars in the way.
          This decision strikes at the heart of F1, is it a sport or a show?
          Over the years decisions by the FIA and their officials have involved some incredibly dubious decisions and some point they need to be reined in. The rules needed to be cleaned up and how overtaking is adjudged needs to be made much clearer. The dive on the inside Max’s signature move needs to be cleaned up, but also Lewis’s ease the outside driver off the track. The rule about leaving a space for the driver on the outside to overtake or fight to keep that place needs to be enforced.
          I really hope this goes all the way to CAS, as UFEA have found you cannot be judge and jury and ignore the rules to manufacture the outcome you want. Teams have been afraid to take the FIA to CAS because of what will happen to them in future season’s after the verdict. This is a global organisation that needs cleaning like the stygian stables. The FIFA, UFEA and IOC all have had the spotlight shone on them over the years and have been forced to reform to a degree; the FIA should do the same.

          1. It wasn’t most likely, it was the last race of the season, it was obvious masi would try anything possible to let the race restart.

        2. The lead car in a GP never has the same pit stop options – it shows how little about F1 you know to even say it. Red Bull had nothing to lose pitting (both times, VSC and at the end), because on their current trajectory, they weren’t going to overtake on track. Mercedes had the very real risk of giving up track position, then risking the safety car NOT coming in, or risking another incident on the restart, or risking Max closing the door on any overtaking attempt Lewis would make.

          So no, Mercedes DID NOT have the same options as Red Bull.

        3. Huh? Are you new to the sport?
          How is it fair to fabricate a duel with a car on fresh soft tyres versus a another on 45 lap old hard tyres?

          Fair would be allowing the guy who dominated the race and earned his right to take every advantage of a safety car finish, do so.

          This fabricated mess only stains Max’s fake championship because he lost the real championship by his own performances under the rules of the sport.

  12. If this was one, honest, mistake by a race director with integrity, I’d be inclined to let it go.
    But it isn’t. It isn’t a mistake, it isn’t honest, he has no integrity, and it isn’t singular.
    There has been a string of poor decisions through the year, with no logic according to the rules of the sport. The only logic is in the promotion of ‘the show’, which is not what the competitors put so much money into the sport for. And not what the proper fans want.
    The “I’ll see what I can do” to Horner, before reversing the decision to allow lapped cars to pass, then restarting the race a lap too soon is just hilarious.
    I love this sport, but will (as of Brazil, actually) not be watching live any more until I feel that it is a sport once more. No more meddling for no reason and no more failures to apply procedures to sanction drivers who break even the most basic rules. Pre Pandemic, I spent thousands every year to follow this sport and would do again – but no more. Not a single penny.

    I truly hope Mercedes take this to the highest possible legal level and win. Because what the FIA have done here is nothing short of result manipulation, not for the first time this year, and they need to be stopped.

    To be clear, I’m not against Max being world champion – he drove really well, as did Lewis – both of them so far superior to anyone else. But they deserve a far better sport to participate in.

    1. Completely agree. This needs to be dealt with as I’m not sure I could follow F1 in future races if it is just rigged WWE style entertainment.

    2. @sham +1
      check my post history i have said this for months, all of the fake drama and astroturfing to draw in a younger audience by liberty media has created a bizarre WWE style climate in F1.

      whats point watching F1 if the race directors can make up new rules on the fly? What is the point of Daimler and Toto Wolff investing 100s millions and employing 800+ staff building one of the best cars with one of the best drivers to have the work all undone by mario kart mushroom cup stewards?

      This is why is important for Mercedes to take this to court to get the results reversed because the very legitimacy of F1 is at stake.

  13. On lap 56 the marshalls were still sweeping the track as the train went past, so it is not the case that the lapped cars should have been let past sooner. It is simply, there just wasn’t enough laps left to go through the proper procedure. So they skipped a bit…..

  14. Sadly Credibility is walking out the door. Sadly, this is turning into a monster that won’t go away.

    1. It mustn’t go away. The FIA need to be held accountable for what happened here. No matter how long it takes.

  15. I wanted a fair race and got a fixed one instead….and it will be settled later in court I assume…but what amazed me most was that the Sky team went impartial on what went on, no one wanting to be critical of the steward masi..or the unlapped car decisions..Ted went the closest saying he hopes masi kept his job…think that means he will not

    1. Accreditation is at stake. You can’t criticize the organizer and not suddenly find delays in getting your pass.

    2. Yes I was extremely disappointed in Ted. I couldn’t believe Sky presenters weren’t challenging it on the basis that they might appear impartial if they do.

      1. That’s because FOM and Sky have a bizarre incestuous relationship. Due to F1 right holders Liberty media and Skys owners Comcast both being US mega corps with a cozy relationship(hence why sky uk gets global English feed commentary, youtube highlights etc and has exclusive interviews with F1 personnel most notably whinger spice) so it is no surprise why Sky presenters are ordered by higher ups not rock the apple cart and shill the company line all whilst dumbing down the product being brought to you by AWS sky glarrrrse Q customers heheh switcharoony(!)…

        C4 isn’t much better as it is produced by David Coulthard’s production company and he shows clear bias towards RB as he is still in close relationship with the team going back from when he raced for them.

        TL;DR

        most mainstream news outlets are going to repeat the FOM narrative, let Mercedes Court battle do ALL the talking and not random talking heads paid to create drama.

  16. & they were perfectly right to be speechless & confused.

    1. Yet none of the teams lodged a protest or joined the Mercedes. That is what matters – a multi-team protest against FIA would bear far greater ramifications for FIA in the process.

      By the way, the reactions of race engineers of the affected drivers presented in the article are quite telling. They quickly came into terms about what is happening.

      1. The only drivers who lost out compared to the penultimate lap were Hamilton and Bottas. No one else had anything to gain by appealing the decision.

        1. Not true. sainz in 3rd lost out as he could’ve if unlikely challenged max into T1 but had lapped cars in the way.

          Apparently only max gets lapped cars removed out of his way

          1. Should’ve let them unlap themselves a lap earlier, when the message they would not be allowed to overtake appeared.

  17. Unsurprisingly, Alonso and Vettel are spot on

  18. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGvtbDl3rcI

    Alonso is always biased against Hamilton, but still his radio was funny

    1. actually, to be fair to him, his after the race comments were great so I have to include those:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bAaKWSIlK0

  19. And now the big question: why aren’t Ferrari and the other teams that seemingly lost out from not having the lapped drivers out of their way file a complaint?

  20. Because any remedy would leave them in the same place as they actually finished. Sainz would never be promoted to second or first if the result was changed. He just lost the chance to fight for it “Let them Race” didn’t apply to him.

    1. Good point. I’ll also add because even if all cars were unlapped it wouldn’t have affected the end positions of sainz/tsunoda/gasly/bottas

  21. Matija Majdanac
    13th December 2021, 9:10

    This is what happened, FIA should immideately allow all cars to unlap, they made a mistake by not allowing it, then there was not enough time to correct that mistake and they end up with this kind of solution, regarding the title it should have been like that either way, but FIA created unnecesary confusion, and of course the fact that HAM didnt have to return the position in lap1 is huge mistake, so all things considered i think the outcome of the race is fair.

  22. The very first element of the possibility of this happening is that drivers are not allowed to drive near racing speed during SC/VSC periods at ANY part if the circuit. What is the point of this rule? Their speed should be substantially limited at the site of a crash, and just slightly limited (or not at all) at other parts of the track. If they were allowed to catch up to the queue quicker, the whole SC period could be shorter.

  23. None of Masi’s explanation makes any sense – you can’t honestly sit there and say “it’s a motor race” and “we want to have a lap of green light racing” KNOWING FULL WELL 1 car is on brand new soft tyres and the other on massively worn hard’s, it was only ever going to be an easy pass (doubly so when the RBR car was setup for higher top speed, too).

    Hamilton drove superbly and Mercedes nailed the strategy with the VSC – Max never got close. But no amount of strategy was going to get them out of that hole Masi threw them in.

    1. @joeypropane Even with a big tyre delta, defending was still possible, as Perez showed against Hamilton earlier in the race. And that was with DRS, which Verstappen didn’t have.

      I agree that Hamilton and Mercedes got the race and the strategy pretty much spot on, but were undone by bad luck. But bad luck was all it was, nothing more sinister.

      1. @red-andy I don’t think it was bad luck, I think it was incompetence on the part of the race director. He broke the rules.

        Had he let them go green with the lapped cars present and Max had taken the win, it would have been unlucky for Lewis but within the rules and fair. Had they cleared the lapped runners earlier and Max took the win, it would have been unlucky for Lewis but within the rules and fair. Had they finished under the safety car, it would have been unlucky for Max but within the rules and fair. Had they red flagged earlier, it would probably have been within the rules and fair whichever of them took it (though I know there is an argument that would have been bending the rules too, so maybe not).

        But this was outside all the rules, procedures and precedents set. It was a made up rule, with no precedent and no justification within the rules.

        As a small aside, had the Perez/Hamilton situation been on the last lap for the win, I don’t think we’d have seen Hamilton take as long to get by. Hamilton knew he just had to be ahead at the end, and couldn’t afford to take too much of a risk, which wouldn’t have been the case on the last lap.

      2. lexusreliability?
        13th December 2021, 13:55

        @red-andy

        as Perez showed against Hamilton earlier in the race

        Apples and oranges. Defending on worn hards vs new softs is not the same thing. Also Perez had absolutely nothing to lose and so could fight harder and all race Hamiton was treating those Red Bulls like he wouldn’t touch them with a barge pole. Rightfully so.

      3. If its just bad luck, why didn’t Masi redflag the race and the decision to have the least impact on the race.
        Everybody else can see this was the obvious decision to make. Why didnt Masi do this?

  24. Really unfair for the rest of the field. Sums up the season.
    When these 2 go at each other, the other 18 drivers don’t matter.
    The rule is not new at all, at times race direction has not allowed all lapped cars to unlap themselves, though never this many.
    Anyway the call not to let cars unlap was puzzling since they went back on it.
    Sometimes there is no time or cars take too long to unlap yet it should be a fixed rule.
    Initially I thought they were just trying to do away with having an sc world champion.
    On the sc, they had plenty of time. Removing the car was slow but lapped cars still had time to move out of the way even if they didn’t have time to rejoin the back of the queue.
    Unfair to those who could have had a go at the last lap, and it would have been great, fighting up and down the field.

  25. Christian Judge
    13th December 2021, 9:50

    Maybe someone can clarify this to me, why will the decision not be overturned if i proved that there were breaches to the rules? And what will be the point of appealing the result, if the outcome is already known? I don’t think changing the rules for next year, at this moment is merc priority, for the money invested why will i settle for 2nd if i believe i was hard done by.

    MV cannot complain if the court come out and say the rules were not complied with, and to remedy that we void decision by Masi, remember what gave him the advantage was the decision that contravened the rules nothing else, no brilliance of anything, so he won’t be unfairly treated. Which of the issues do you solve first?

  26. The smart thing to have done would be for Masi to make the safety car stop on track and then make the cars unlap themselves. AFAIK, there is no minimum speed for the safety car, so this would be fully according to the rules, but would still result in the field being fully unlapped and ready to go, with some running left.

    1. I think there is a minimum speed for safety reasons: tires would loose too much heat standing still, then you would effectively create a restart, witch a red flag would do more fairly, allowing everybody to start on fresh rubber and in the proper order with enough laps to go for a last hooray.

    2. @aapje the smart thing would have been to red-flag the race allowing Lewis to also change tyres.

      1. @freelittlebirds

        But that would mean a violation of the rules. The red flag is only supposed to be used if it is not possible to solve the situation with a safety car.

        My solution would be fully according to the rules. I understand that it wouldn’t result in the desired outcome, but the only fully compliant solutions would be to either run the race out under the SC, or to do what I said.

        1. @aapje the red flag is at the discretion of race direction. It would have been unethical but at least legal.

          It’s essentially reducing the race and championship to a single lap with Verstappen able to pummel into Lewis at his discretion. All of Lewis’s hard work in winning the race 3 times would be thrown away.

          They can’t stop the cars on track – they overheat. Stopping the cars for a long period of time would amount to a red flag.

  27. So the drivers feel they should have been allowed to unlap themselves which Masi didn’t allow. Then he reversed his decision compromising certain drivers benefitting the others. Its like he tried to right his wrong leaving a complete mess behind him.

    1. Masi had 2 options open to him within the rules.
      1) let drivers unlap themselves, ‘any lapped cars’ reads as though it should all – but even if that’s not the case, the next part is very clear. The safety car should have been called in the following lap.
      2) Drivers don’t unlap and we get a green flag lap.

      By choosing neither of these, Masi broke the rules and favoured Red Bull after lobbying from Red Bull.
      It stinks, even if he didn’t intentionally favour Max – it sure as hell looks like he did.

      1. “When the Safety Car was out, I thought that we were able to overtake quickly, because normally [this] is what happens. You see the green light of the Safety Car immediately, and then you are un-lapping yourself until they remove the car,” Alonso

        “They should’ve let us pass right away, like other times,” Vettel.

        Why weren’t they allowed to resume their positions at the back of the field as thats normally what happens?

        1. it was because of track workers was still cleaning up debris(regardless what alonso said “why didn’t they release us earlier”) and race control couldn’t release the cars earlier to unlap with workers on a live track.
          When the last track worker left the live track it would’ve been too late to release ALL the cars to unlap as it world be too tight on time with the safety car coming in as Lewis in 1st needs ample time to back up the back and re-start the race, also under NORMAL circumstances this would trigger the safety car to stay out for one more lap and hand Lewis the title which masi for some reason tried to avoid at all cost…
          This is one of the reasons why ONLY the sandwiched cars in between lewis and max was released as it was far quicker and more importantly placed max right behind lewis in the pack for a slam dunk overtake after the restart.

          TL;DR

          race control panicked noticing that the laps was running out if they tried to restart the race by normal means so by either incompetence or conspiracy to help max they hastily made up the rules so there was 1 green lap running and to place max right behind lewis in the queue .

          Hope this also explains why Mercedes have a great case to overturn the results.

  28. What’s more important, letting a driver thats 12th lap the safety car or letting Max and Lewis race one final lap for the championship? I think Masi made the right call.

    1. All drivers are racing for contracts and bonuses so this new rule is completely unfair. What happens if Max and Hamilton collide in the final lap or any other combination of drivers?

    2. @filge90 What’s more important, an exciting spectacle on TV or following the rules to ensure a fair championship?

    3. Better idea: Lewis and Max as the only two cars starting the race so “the fans” have the chance to enjoy the duel…

    4. What is important is having rules which all teams can fairly based strategic decisions on.
      Mercedes decision to keep Hamilton out was based on the rules which says all the back markers would have to be called in. They calculated the time available and determined the race would end before those back markers came in.

      You don’t just change the rules on a whim.

      Now we have so many American interests in the sport with their own very local foiables, we need stewards who can stand up to those interests and put this sport first.

      The alternative is more decisions like these favoring those with vested interests. You’ll end up with
      the glizty hollow entertain which passes for sport in the US.. In years to come people will wonder
      Is this really motor racing?

      If Masi wanted a fair conclusion, why didn’t he redflag the race?

      1. Read the protocol that Fia published about the protest from Mercedes. In the protocol they defend the reasoning by Masi with rules that showed he did everything by the book so I don’t understand why keyboard experts keep shouting about it

        1. Off course they’ll side with Masi Dhuuu! Admission of gilt, fault or failure is not anybody’s forte in F1. Manipulation and rules twisting are.

        2. @filge90 Did they do that? That’s interesting – the FIA and F1 race direction are clearly tied but you’d expect the FIA to take the right stance here, unless Todt was the one who was responsible for Masi’s about-face.

      2. Ajaxn. What does “American Interests” have to do with anything here? Lets not forget this is a “World Sport” that does not belong solely to Europe.

        The laughable bit here is that people argue the “why not red flag the race”. Is that not interfering and changing the rules on the whim to support your so called “American glitzy entertainment that passes as a sport in the US”? That Williams crash was not serious enough to stop a race nor would it in any other point in a race. Also, red flags are for safety reasons only and not for the purpose of improving the show/entertainment such as ensuring a finish under green flag conditions. The Williams accident did not make that section of the track impassable, no major track repairs required, no safety concerns to drivers or spectators or workers, and no unsafe weather conditions where present to require a red flag. Stopping a race to ensure a green flag finish is NOT the intent of the red flag regardless of any racing series I’m aware of (except for NASCAR which is not a good example of racing). I can’t believe you have me sounding like I’m defending Masi. Masi’s intent here was good, but executed poorly and untimely.

        1. My point is if Masi was going to make up a ruling instead of follow precedence, then he would have done better to have redflaged the race. The alternative is that he follows due process for the yellow flags and have all the cars unlap, or none. What he did was done solely to benifit Verstappen. This was a hollow victory, a very sad end to a shambles of a season..

  29. The drivers are as confused as everyone else. This new rule if allowed to remain will destroy the sport. The race director controls which drivers can unlap on every caution situation. Scary

  30. Hearing that most of the teams have concerns about the way Michael Masi runs things & many were disappointed with the manner & tone in which he replied to Toto Wolff post race, Specifically the ‘It’s called motor racing’ remark.

    Most feel that at any other race they would have just let it end behind the safety car & that by not doing so & altering the normal procedures to get the race to end under green it has opened up the view that the FIA interfered with & helped to decide the race result & world championship which is something that nobody in the paddock views as a positive look.

    There’s just apparently a lot of dissatisfaction in the paddock.

    1. Implied in Masi remark,is that decisions have always currupt and subject to the whims of whomever has the power as stewards. He might as well have said to Toto , ‘suck it up and quit whinning’.

      “Its called motor racing” – how much more patronising can you get. This is what the great majority of a fickle public might have spoon fed to them, but its not the answer i expect from a top official. Its like he doesn’t really have a clue.

    2. Exactly what I would think after what happened.

  31. Here’s Masi explaining the requirement one year ago.

    https://www.motorsportweek.com/2020/10/13/masi-explains-reason-for-late-eifel-gp-safety-car/

    ”There’s a requirement in the sporting regulations to wave all the lapped cars past,” Masi said.

    “From that point, it was position six onwards that were still running [on the lead lap], so between 10 or 11 cars had to unlap themselves.

    “Therefore the Safety Car period was a bit longer than what we would have normally expected.”

    1. @macademianut I don’t think Masi or F1 have any ground to stand on. I’m surprised that F1 is not attempting to correct this on their own. If a mistake is made, it’s always best to be the one correcting it.

    2. BAM! good find.@Macademianut

  32. While I am not a Max fan, I have to say I was cheering for him to win the championship. I feel he drove a much better season, made less mistakes and had a lot of bad luck (some of which directly caused by Mercedes), while Lewis lucked into A LOT of points early on in the season

    It’s probably for this reason that I am at peace with yesterday’s result. In my opinion, Lewis definitely deserved to win yesterday’s race, but not the championship.

    However, it must be said that Masi has made an incredible mess of things, all culminating in that last safety car, but it started much, much earlier. I can completely imagine Hamilton and Mercedes feeling robbed of the title. F1 has not been a sport for a long time, but this season it took a huge step in the wrong direction. Something needs to happen.

  33. This is the most confusing aspect of this restart. The only person advantaged by the restart was Vestappen. The rest of the field with their own close rivals vyiing for positions, points and prizes, still had back markers in front of them.

    For example whom ever was challenging Verstappen for that 2nd position still had his back markers in front of him. So not only did this disadvantage Hamilton, it disadvantage everyone else in the field, bar the entitled Verstappen.

    Anyone can see this restart was flawed and biased.

    Incidently what exactly are the rules for redflags and was that ever an option given resent precedence.

    1. Red flag was not an option as there was NO safety concerns that would result in that condition. Race Control can not use red flags for the purpose of the “show”. I don’t think Masi was “biased”, I think it is a symptom trying to fast track the restart in a way that Masi saw was fair for the two championship contenders. I don’t think he thought of the rest of the pack sadly. I have no issue with giving Race Control some flexibility to manage a race because you can not build rules that hits every scenario (such as this). This was Masi’s attempt at trying to allow Max and Lewis duel it out. Which I see understandable, but I think Masi could have done more. He also made things far more confusing than it needed to be. Maybe that is the result of the Team Principles constantly on the horn with him complaining and arguing and lobbying (speculating here).

  34. The comment section in this website is due an overhaul as now it’s mostly people spewing conspiracy theories about maFIA and that the race director is bought by one team or the other depending on the race. I guess this brings clicks to the page, sad state of affairs though. Until there’s some moderation or ability to up and downvote, no point in scrolling down. What was once a good place to chat with other race fans, now it’s more like hooligans. Oh well. Rant over, keep on fightin’ keyboard warriors.

  35. If the track is clear and there were five laps or fewer to go, then surely it would have made more sense to make the lapped cars go behind all the potential points-scoring cars – all 10 of them.

    Everyone will be effectively running in the same order so nothing really would have been lost, the outcome probably would have been the same anyway, and it would have been a lot quicker to sort out.

  36. I’m happy mercedes will persist in this to get what they deserve justice

    1. If Masi wanted to help VER why didn’t he make HAM give the place back after turn 6 on lap one? Almost all journalists and driver commentators have said VER made a legitimate overtake?

      1. There is no way Hamilton could have stopped with verstappen diving across his racing line. That move was begging for a collision. Hamilton didn’t seek advantage, he was forced into avoiding a collision. If hamilton had come back on to the track earlier he would have come back into the trafic of all those cars sweeping into the corner.

        That move was typical of Verstappen, late braking with no regards to the other cars on the track. Sooner or later Max is going to find himself paying for that move. Other cars are going to drive into him rather than drive out of his way.

  37. This decision should not have been about the top 2 in giving the audience a race to the line but every team in the pit lane as they all had a stake in it. The mid field teams should all be arguing to get the rules cleared up in future as it could have cost them millions in prize money. As it was not much was going to change in the championship standings but it could have been that by not allowing all lapped cars to un lap themselves they may have prevented a battle for a championship position and therefore potentially robbing them of millions.
    As for giving the audience what they want I work with people who have got into this sport during this season with the excitement growing during the year, all who have no allegiance to any one driver but today they have all commented that it will be the last race they watch as the sport is being manipulated by the governing body, a view that you also see a lot on social media by the more neutral fans but I guess Netflix will be loving it.

  38. The biggest issue is the fact that Masi works for the FIA and the protest went to the FIA. You cannot have a body that is both the Judge and the Jury – it doesn’t work.

    I think Masi is not necessarily biased by RBR in his decision making, however, he has obviously been pressured by Horner. I don’t know why he has originally said “lapped cars will not be allowed to pass”, i think he obviously wanted to end under green and felt with Marshall still on the track and few laps remaining that was the only option he had – by the book.

    He has however been pressured by RBR – “All we need is one lap”. I think Ferrari and other teams should join in this appeal to CAS, it’s a farce that Masi can make that kind of call. I’ve been watching F1 for more than 10 years, i’ve never seen this happen.

    The first thing that came to my mind when the SC was deployed and HAM did not pit is that, wow if they get going again Max has fresher tires and will win, but then counting the laps down under the SC i though HAM might hang on here – so i get why MERC did not pit him. THe rules were not followed and it should not be allowed. FIA should have to settle MERC in millions and fire Masi – even if the result is not overturned .

  39. The real mistake by Masi was to not let the cars unlap themselves sooner. This decision all but ensured a Mercedes win but was contradicted at the last minute. This was a bad situation that didn’t have a good solution. No one wanted to see the championship end under a safety car except for some Lewis fans.

    If there was no possibility for lapped cars to unlap at all under the safety car this wouldn’t happen, and we also wouldn’t have the problem of free tire changes for some cars under the yellow flags. I’ve always thought this rule gave an unfair, lucky advantage.

    1. @ryanoceros how the championship ends is irrelevant as long as it was fair. If Lewis’ tyres blew up, then Max would have won and we’d all be upset but it’s just bad luck. We’ve seen some crazy ends to races but none where the other team was given the victory on purpose. If it were 1 race, it’d still be crazy but this was the championship deciding race.

      If the FIA wanted to race, they could have red flagged the race. It’s still not fair or right because Lewis kept a lead against Max’s fresh tyres and survived multiple attempts to be dethroned. BUT it would have been a much better proposition than doing Horner’s bidding to give them 1 lap with new soft tyres vs 50 lap hard tyres starting neck and neck, not even a restart with P1, P2.

      Since Mick was hoping his dad would keep his 7 championships maybe the FIA can give Lewis a few championships from Michael Schumacher’s era since the championships are now for sale. I suppose 3 championships from MS might do the job. It would bring Michael’s count to 4, Lewis’ to 11. Maybe Alonso can 2-3 form Senna or Fangio. It’s raining false championships out there. I’d love to get one too ;-) Get me one, please! Can I pre-order it with Masi?

      1. That may be a bit hyperbolic…

      2. What the hell are you saying? Schumacher deserved his 7 titles more than hamilton did, he at least had serious competition in terms of his opponents’ cars, even if hill, villeneuve, hakkinen weren’t at his level, and anyway he had a very strong opponent in alonso. Plus 7 + 3 is NOT 11! Hamilton for most of his titles only had to race against his team mate, rosberg was pretty good but bottas, really?

  40. I would go further: if Mercedes withdraws the appeal, they are contributing actively for the fall into disrepute of the sport.

    1. @lumberjackpt81 indeed, I would lose all respect for Mercedes as a company if they withdrew the appeal. They have an obligation to the sport to fight and rectify this as do all teams (Red Bull included) and drivers (Max included).

      1. I agree, You know F1 screwed up when neutrals and people who hate Lewis say he was robbed..

        If they don’t appeal to get the result overturned they will lose face globally and come off as weak and enabling the wwe style stewarding plus it spits in the face of the 800+ staff at Brackley and 100s millions invested in building a spaceship F1 car plus employing the best drivers all to be undone due to a race official bringing the sport into disrepute.
        This challenge is for the integrity of the sport, if there is no price to pay for meddling in the race creating new rules on the fly whats the point of taking part? Strict adherence to the rules and FIA protocol is the core of was F1 is. If that breaks down then F1 loses its legitimacy.

        As i have said before Lewis got DQ from Brasil quali for an 0.2mm infringement due to ThE RuLeS so Daimler and part team owner Toto are totally justified going ALL the way to court of arbitration for sport all because a rouge F1 employee screwed Lewis out of a WDC because it gets juicy manufactured drama for the next series of drive to survive.. Congrats liberty media you wanted the americanization of f1 with hype and zoomer friendly Reddit tier drama you got it..

  41. Does anyone else remember when it was widely accepted that the delay to the 2021 regulations would see Lewis take his 8th title at a canter…? What a roller-coaster it’s been! I would never have expected this conclusion. Rightly or wrongly, F1’s getting some attention in the mainstream in Australia for something other than a big crash!

  42. Had they not waivered at first with the decision of letting all cars unlap themselves, it probably could have been done in time for the last lap, as the others just weren’t too far behind. Masi tries to please everyone but pretty much ended up with both sides angry at him. Such lamentable outcome if not funny for those outside of it.
    Anyway, the Mercedes car was flying in Abu Dhabi yet again and they messed up with strategy regardless of any restart row, it has been their archilles hill on this tight challenge.
    Any protest will be useless because they did what should have been done but by a half. Allow the cars to quckly unlap themselves and get the race going was the correct decision, sportsmanlike speaking. The race director should be allowed to do the maximum possible to restart the race without breaking any other regulation. As for the rules, those should not restrict competition more than they already do. No need to red flag either, that would be actually the artificial thing. No barrier had been damaged and the track had been cleaned.
    Of course there was yet contradiction with written rules as it had been done, only some cars were allowed to unlap themselves. But finishing behind a Safety Car would be a farce was well, as it hadn’t been done previously this season under similar circumstances. Any way there’s always someone to complain, so it should be done in a way that allows a minimum of competition but not introducing artificial things like an unnecessary red flag. The most sensible action would have been all cars quckly unlapping themselves without mixed signals, as it paved the way for unavoidable contradiction later, like a catch-22.
    I find it amusing how some will worry about inconsistency only on cherripicked topics. It’s cool when the referee “robs” for your side, but not to the other side. In the last two races not only Max but also Lewis deserved penalty and/or giving back position quite a few times. The stewards were found in inconsistency with both the rules and the recent interpretation of rules. But now, which the former happened (but not the latter) on Verstappen/Red Bull way as a key point of the WDC decision then it’s the end of the world, of course! You guys helped to tie the same rope that would soon be used to hang yourselves.

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