Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2021

Does F1 need a new race director – or deeper change – after Abu Dhabi restart row?

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Before the title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race weekend began, FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi took a proactive step to avoid a controversial conclusion to the championship.

In the regular event notes distributed to all competitors, Masi reminded them the FIA has the (seldom-used) power to confiscate points from drivers if they are deemed to have seriously infringed the rules.

Reading between the lines, this was a reminder that neither driver should assume they would be allowed to win the title by taking their rival out. It was an understandable step for Masi to take in light of what happened four days earlier in Jeddah, where the stewards deemed Max Verstappen had caused a collision with his title rival Lewis Hamilton. This was their third significant contact of the year after Silverstone (where Hamilton was the culprit) and Monza (Verstappen).

Given its implications, and the fact Verstappen stood to gain most from any collision in the finale, it was no surprise he and his Red Bull team bristled at such a public reminder that the FIA did not want any undue interference on the championship outcome. But of course, in the eyes of many, that was exactly what happened at the end of the race when Masi made a surprising break with convention to arrange a restart which ultimately swung the outcome of the world championship.

Michael Masi, Singapore, 2019
Masi became F1 race director in 2019
His decision to allow only a portion of the lapped drivers to rejoin the lead lap – moving aside all the cars which separated leader Hamilton from second-placed Verstappen, and none of those behind the Red Bull driver – flew in the face of past practice. It led Mercedes to protest the outcome of the race; Once that was rejected they began making arrangements to lodge an appeal, only to back down from that move four days later having concluded that even if they won it would not restore Hamilton’s lost title.

Unsurprisingly, the winners and losers saw Masi’s decision differently. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff accused him of conjuring up a new interpretation of the rules which contradicted his past explanations and “robbed” Hamilton of the title. “I’m not interested in having a conversation with Michael Masi,” stated Wolff.

Red Bull sided with the race director – at least on this call. “There were five cars in between and he just sent them away, so that you could drive this last lap,” said the team’s motorsport consultant Helmut Marko. “It’s like the referee, he has the right and if he decides like that, then that’s valid.”

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But one week earlier Red Bull were quick to make their dissatisfaction with Masi clear. Team principal Christian Horner said F1 “missed Charlie Whiting” – Masi’s late predecessor as race director – after Verstappen collected two penalties during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Christian Horner
Horner was unhappy with Masi’s officiating in Jeddah
Horner clashed with Masi at the previous round too, being hauled into the stewards office and given a formal warning after the race director reported him for criticising a “rogue marshal” over another penalty for Verstappen. It was a particular poorly-chosen remark for Horner to make given that Masi made his start in officiating as a flag marshal.

Since taking over from Whiting, Masi has inevitably encountered the greater scrutiny which comes with overseeing the world’s most famous motorsport. But Abu Dhabi catapulted him to a new level of fame. In the days after the race his name was searched for online more often than 18 of the 20 drivers – all bar the two title contenders. For those running the show, that’s a clear signpost of how many people were unimpressed with how last year’s season finale was handled.

The race director role invites criticism like few others. It’s doubtful any of the alternative options available to Masi at the time – such as restarting with the lapped cars still in place or concluding the race behind the Safety Car – would have been popular with the Red Bull camp.

Still, the likely impossibility of a universally popular decision doesn’t justify veering from past precedent in such a baffling way. After all, it wasn’t just the championship contenders involved – other drivers were mystified by how the restart was handled. This invites the question whether such a call should have been possible.

Masi has become the focus of attention for the decision and social media is awash with calls for him to be replaced. But would that be more than just a superficial change? The FIA has resolved to examine what went wrong in Abu Dhabi but it doesn’t necessarily follow that he was at fault or that the only solution is to install a new race director.

Wolff admitted as much when he spoke after the team decided not to appeal over the race. “It’s not only a decision to change the race director,” he said when asked whether replacing Masi would give Mercedes more trust in the FIA’s procedures. “The whole system of decision making needs to be improved.”

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“The race director is certainly under big pressure and some of that is due to our own faults,” he continued. “I would have wished for more consistent decision-making that could have avoided many of the controversies throughout the year.

Toto Wolff, Mercedes, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021
F1 must ‘revamp the way decisions are made’, says Wolff
“But the last one was just a decision that had the biggest impact. From a sporting perspective, a catastrophic impact because it decided the world championship. But now you can say all season went back and forth and we were on the receiving end sometimes, and sometimes even more lucky.”

Should Masi be blamed for a bad call, or does the fault lie in a system which allowed such an unexpected decision to be made? Whichever, Wolff is clear that improvements must be made.

“I have confidence that all of us together – the teams, the drivers the FIA and the sport – can revamp the way decisions are being making and make the sport stronger,” he said. “I think these situation, as painful as they are, are also an opportunity to make the sport better.”

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  • 281 comments on “Does F1 need a new race director – or deeper change – after Abu Dhabi restart row?”

    1. I do agree that replacing the race director would be shortsighted. It might (temporarily) pacify those who have been calling for a scalp (or have had it in for Masi for ages), but it is unlikely to address the root cause of the problem.

      For some time now we have seen the conflict between “sport” and “show” played out on and off the track. We all remember the controversial call that decided the 2019 Canadian GP, and whether you agreed with that call or not, the negative publicity it generated was doubtless uncomfortable for the sport’s commercial rights holders. Having learned on that occasion that deciding races in the stewards’ room is not a desirable outcome, has F1 tipped too far in the other direction? In Abu Dhabi we saw race control desperate to have the championship decided on the track, with the fairly predictable outcome that one side felt they’d been wronged.

      I don’t think the conflict between sport and show is a) new (though it undoubted gets more attention these days) or b) all that difficult to resolve, really. But it does require an openness from both the governing body and commercial rights holder that we haven’t seen up to now.

      1. In Abu Dhabi we saw race control desperate to have the championship decided on the track, with the fairly predictable outcome that one side felt they’d been wronged.

        Agree with this remark.
        But the fight for championship was fought on track as it should.
        It was not Masi who “gifted” the championship as some claim.
        The show is the sport.
        It’s important to resume a race as soon as safely possible. That’s why there are rules. Not to decide controversial races off track.
        Masi made several bad calls in his position. Not always to the liking of a group of fans. He tries to stay unpartial in his choices but every choice always will benefit one and hurt the other.
        Losing a championship this way hurts a lot. But it stil is as always happened with a late SC. The race is nullified until that moment and restarts again.

        1. It’s important to resume a race as soon as safely possible. That’s why there are rules.

          The irony here is simply staggering.

          Yes, there are rules– and they’re specifically designed for safety. And they were ignored.

          1. There was no unsafe situation in his decision. So completely nonsensical remark.

            1. It really isn’t nonsensical as the rules are written that way for a reason. Could you imagine one of the cars allowed to unlap themselves immediately crashed going through the first corner as the lead pack comes around to restart at full speed? Not to mention the marshals weren’t finished with Latifi’s car.

            2. Masi did the exact opposite at the 2020 German GP. He stuck by the rules then so why change your stance because its the final race. I assure you that you would be the first to complain had the shoe been on the other foot and it was Lewis on softs and Max on used Hards and the race was ressumed on Lap 58.

              The point here is one of principle and irrespective of who benefited. The rules are a complete mess. They need to be tighten regardless of who is RD, Masi or someone else. You cannot have rule which stipulates how the safety car is deployed and retracted then have another rule which states it can trump previous rule and the RD can deploy/retract SC how he/she wishes.

            3. @Craig

              How is that different from the normal risks of racing? Besides, it’s fully within precedent that the unlapping cars don’t have to be done unlapping themselves before the race can be restarted.

          2. I don’t think it was unsafe but it was hurried up so the race could restart before the race ended under safetycar. That is what noone wanted before Abu Dhabi and so was it that evening.
            It that what a part of people are going to complain offcourse you could hear it when Horner and Toto were discussion with Massi.

            I think that should be end no contact directly with the RC by teamboses DURING the race. Also the RC team must be enlarged so more eyes can be on the race and report to Massi’s team who is informed by them no overload of information to the RC director.

          3. Honestly, I just can’t can’t put the justifications Max fans keep offering into words. It’s comical but sadly they believe it. It’s become a world where you can simply justify almost anything and those who favor the outcome of the justification ignorantly agree with it.

          4. The stewards considered that upon Mercedes’ request, and declared that the situation might have been unusual, but there was nothing wrong with how the safety car period played out.

            Viewers can disagree, as I do (all cars should have been let through earlier in my view), but they have the final say. Mercedes didn’t appeal their decision either.

        2. But it stil is as always happened with a late SC. The race is nullified until that moment and restarts again.

          Well yes and no. The controversy is not that the race was restarted and that the SC cost Hamilton the championship. The controversy was that ONLY the 5 lapped cars between him and Verstappen were let past (I think that we wouldn’t have had this controversy if they would have let either ALL lapped cars, or NONE of the lapped cars past).
          I loved Verstappen winning, but not like this. The way in which it happened does not feel fair. Not because he did not deserve it or because he was ‘given’ the title. But because of the bending (or breaking?) of the rules surrounding the restart it does feel like he should not have been in that position.

          1. Interesting. The flak started right away. The fact only 5 cars unlapping came later in the “arguments”.
            But we can conclude not one of the others cars suffered by this decision. Sainz Ie was quite happy with the result.
            None of the other drivers complained about that part. They were surprised but that was it.

            1. Was Sainz the only driver affected by the decision?

            2. Riccardo and Stroll disagree (they pitted along with Vestappen and as they weren’t allowed to unlap themselves they lost the opportunity for points).

            3. And as usual ‘erikje’ making a point based upon whatever suits at the time.

              Sorry, but I literally aired my disbelief at the subset of cars allowed to unlap (as well as other aspects of the decision) ‘as it happened’. If it suits you to base a point on the fact that a particular group, forum, or set of individuals did otherwise, bully for you. But your alternate reality where everyone adheres to the ‘facts?’ as you state them doesn’t really exist.

              I don’t even know what you are trying to say here. That rules no longer apply and as long as the drivers are happy it’s fine?

              And for what it is worth I 100% agree with Axel. There would have been little (if any) of this fallout if either none or all cars were allowed to pass. Of course, had all been allowed to pass RB would likely have said they should have let none past, but it certainly wouldn’t have been anywhere near the realms of an ‘appealable’ act.

              In terms of this debate dragging out, I am somewhat on the fence. Of course they should learn and enact considered remedies going forward, so obviously this means it cannot just be dropped. But if the FIA and/or Masi have not admitted to the glaringly inappropriately random** interpretation of the rules by now, they never will, so those of us that feel unsatisfied will just have to suck it up.

              ** I realise that my ‘random’ assertion ignores the ‘let them race’ principle that has been proffered. But as it has yet to be made clear where anyone has suggested ‘let them race’ meant only the front runners, or using ‘significant rule interpretation’ if necessary, then I’ll stick with ‘random’.

            4. @erikje
              Maybe give it some more thought. Saying Sainz was okay with it is silly.
              Here’s the unarguable take
              1. Masi basically told all other 18 cars they didn’t have the RIGHT to win when he only allowed 5 lapped cars through. Don’t you think the cars right behind Lewis and Max had the right to go for the win? He gave Max an opportunity he didn’t give anyone else
              2. By keeping lapped cars between Max and the rest of the field he insured that Max would only have to worry about offense not defense. Even though Max had fresh softs, Lewis could have still won or had a better chance to win if Max had to also worry about a hard charging Carlos on his tail. But we didn’t!
              3. Ferrari should have been the first to protest. How many times have we seen 2 cars battling only to have the car right behind them take both positions? Carlos was denied that opportunity and Ferrari could have had the top podium spot for the first time in 2021
              Max is a deserving champion, but not that way. There is no getting around my points and that’s the reason why this championship will forever be tarnished.

          2. @Axel

            I still don’t understand why you guys think that it takes away from Verstappen’s win, when your complaint revolves around other cars. Realistically, the ones hard done by the partial unlap are Ricciardo and Stroll, while drivers like Sainz benefitted.

            You can only argue that Lewis was harmed or Max benefited, if your desire was to have the lapped cars as a buffer between the two or for the race to finish under the SC.

            1. Sainz was not benefited. Actually, Sainz had two drivers behind with fresh softer tires and two slower, lapped cars in front of him, and behind Max. Carlos was barely able to keep P3 in worse conditions as Hamilton, who could enjoy clean air in front of him to battle Max. Actually, Sainz was not benefitted at all, he was just able to handle the negative situation.

            2. Had all cars been allowed to unlap, there would have been not enough time for the restart under green flag.

              Surely you choose 1 or the other (release lapped cars or not). Not a specific set that benefits 1 outcome, without any clear basis for that particular selection, outside securing that outcome.

              I am yet to hear a reasoned argument for the rationale for the releasing of THAT particular subset of the lapped cars, either safety or otherwise.

        3. You’d have to be blind not to see that the goal was to gift Ver the championship. I turned the race off when that yellow came out not in any way thinking they could justify throwing a green with how few laps were left and how long it takes them normally to clean the track up. Imagine my surprise the next day when I came to this site. Fine. Masi is just as good as any other race director. He does what he is told and crafts the race to Liberty’s liking.

          1. Keep on grieving. Time will soften the blow.

            1. keep on believing it was legitimate, only one day you will realise it was all a lie and there is forever an asterisk next to this manipulated championship.

          2. @darryn

            I am a Ham fan and agree that the act did gift VER the win, but I am unsure what you can see that I cannot that proves the ‘intent’ was to gift VER the win rather than it be merely the obvious outcome. I am not going to be as definitive as yourself (as I simply don’t know) but if the intention was only to ensure finishing under the green flag, then the fact that the outcome may be the same does not make the intent the same.

            1. Intent?

              It doesnt take a genius to know what would happens next. Masi changed the rules, he did not act acccording to established rules. What is there to understand? Of course he gifted Verstappen the win.

              Everyone expected the race to end under the SC, the whole stadium, the entire viewing public, everyone bar Horner and Masi.

          3. @darryn

            That is not consistent with other decision-making during the race or the season, as even Toto admits. It seems more logical that the race director wanted a green flag ending where the championship contenders would directly battle it out without having lapped cars messing up that fight.

            This happened to be highly advantageous to Max due to the difference in tire strategy, but that was not Masi’s doing.

          4. It was Masi himself that confirmed the rules in 2020 at the Eifel race, when he said it is either all cars or none that are allowed to unlap themselves. He also changed to rule on when the race could restart, it should have been one lap after the unlapped cars departed.

            Plus I must point out that by changing the rules ad hoc he didn’t give any of the teams to chance to change their strategy calls.

        4. As Wolf says they need to be consistent.

          Mercedes made a strategic decision not to bring Hamilton based on the rules as they stood.
          They worked out the remaining laps and made a calculated decision based on the rules governing lapped cars.

          Then Masi decides he can make up his own rules.

          Had mercedes thought there would be a final single lap, they would likely have brought Hamiton in to change tires and have a fighting chance from 2nd against Max. They acted on the precedences, with an idea of the rules as they had always been applied, only to find themselves in a situation with a wholely unique presendence.

          Masi must have known this when he took this decision.
          Its just a pity Wolf wasn’t able to argue his position concisely and cooly in that frantic situation.

        5. If they really wanted a race decided on the track, Masi should have called out the Red flag after the late crash. That would have given us a standing start with four(?) laps to sort the championship out. What a race THAT would have been!!

      2. Very solidly formulated view on this @Red-andy, I tend to agree with it.

        To me, replacing Masi will just throw in a new person who has to first learn how to grow into this role. Better and more transparent processes, decision making, communication and stewarding should be the remedy.

      3. The funny thing is that only in the UK (fans/ media outlets) discuss the position of Masi or still discuss the whole event.
        To satisfied LH fans, Merc stakeholders and Merc they will investigate the decision making at the end of Abu Dhabi race but for other then LH fans and UK media outlets this subject is old news.

        IMO: Masi did a fantastic job over the year and I didn’t agree with every decision he made.
        Masi will be race director in 2022.
        There will some directive for Masi but also in 2022 there will be room for discussion

        To all UK media outlets, websites, LH fans; get over it

        1. I’ll get over it when I see some sign that there will be improvements which stop such a debacle happening again. The race director cannot be allowed to make up new rules on the spot (except, possibly, if following the written rules would be unsafe).

          Replacing Masi, on its own, would do little. I believe he deserves to be let go, but whether this happens or not, if he or his replacement acts the same way then we will just get more controversies, more “reality show” entertainment and less sport. I have seen nothing from the FIA or anywhere else that gives me hope that they will do anything but whitewash this travesty, so no, thank you, I won’t “get over it”.

          1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_-oTLQNlFY (55 seconds to 72 seconds)

            ‘if we cannot all agree, at the bare minimum, that the race director changing the rules on the final lap of the season and thus changing the outcome of the championship, is not a good thing, then what the hell happened to us?!’

            1. ‘How do we even talk to each other? What have we done to ourselves? How do we fix it?’

          2. Nobody is complaining only UK F1 outlets and LH fans. Every sport on toplevel got a show element in it. Why do you think those airjets flying over?? As Jacky Steward said; it was pure racing. Merc didn’t box twice !! When they had the chance, Merc blew it. And now please all you LH fans stop crying, Let us talk about Imola, what was LH doing there in the gravel??. Maybe we should talk about Monaco or Baku. Nice topic to discuss is also that a 7 times WDC didn’t want to box and his team had to order him to come in during the Russia GP. Mexico was funny to see, 2 merc’s on the front row and MV just around them in the first corner!! But of course all VB fault. The picture I will remember for always is that lonely Merc at the re start of the Hungary GP

            1. “UK F1 outlets” and “LH fans” are not “nobody”, shall I remind you?
              The facts at Abu Dhabi need no repeating.
              If you cannot see the problem with the situation that obtained towards the end of the race, there really is no point in debating this further.
              For me, Masi has to go, because debacles need to be acknowledged, owned, and a visible price paid for them. His inconsistency and poor showing in critical races didn’t start with Abu Dhabi – his unseemly bargaining with Red Bull on what penalty to give their driver, his inexplicable decision to allow the nonsense at Turn 14 in Brazil, his overall conduct (which reminds me of his conduct during his days as Deputy Race Director of V8 SuperCars in Australia, when he made similarly inconsistent and controversial decisions, see the 2018 SuperCars season for examples) and his astonishing inability to improve just mean he’s the wrong person for the job and has to go.
              Once he’s out of the way, a closing of the loophole that allowed him to mess up so bad is needed, to ensure that this simply never happens again, and a generic review of the rules to ensure future race directors don’t similarly act outside the rules will be necessary.

            2. I, personally, know non-UK and non-LH fans who have a massive problem with this, and even some Max fans who, while celebrating the win, are appalled by Masi’s behaviour and that of the stewards in Abu Dhabi and throughout the year. This is not just a UK or LH fan problem. Your own driver doesn’t need to have been negatively affected to see the fundamental problem with decisions like this.

            3. @NeverElectric

              The ‘bargaining’ was very similar to the normal procedure for illegal overtakes where a driver gets the chance to voluntarily give back the position, rather than get a time penalty. Here RB/Max got the opportunity to give the place back for the restart, rather than during or after the restart, which would be messy and potentially unsafe.

              And it wasn’t bargaining anyway, but ‘take it or leave it.’ Red Bull/Max could accept the offer or refuse, which would result in the stewards making a decision on a potential penalty.

              The main weirdness (and what confused Red Bull) was that Masi seemed to forget about Norris being ahead of Lewis, so Red Bull thought that he made a better offer than what he did. But they accepted the actual offer.

            4. He does not make those decisions the stewards do.
              You only give examples from races were you think LH was the victim but I can assure you that I got plenty of examples were MV was the victim. What Masi did at Abu Dhabi is completely legal en within the jurisdiction of Masi. I understand it hurts when you lose as this but as I said before only uk media out;ets and LH fans asking for the departure of Masi

            5. What Masi did at Abu Dhabi is completely legal en within the jurisdiction of Masi.

              Even if it is*, it shouldn’t be. When there already exist written rules and procedures to cover an eventuality safely, the race director should not have the power to make up new rules on the spot, especially ones which are so blatantly prejudicial. Setting a precedent that he is able to do so leaves the door wide open to abuse, as no limits are placed upon his powers over the safety car by the stewards interpretation. He could deploy the safety car without need, call it in without informing everyone, or send a specific lapped car through and no others. Whether he ever would or not is not the point: This interpretation makes it completely within the rules for him to do so, without any reason needed.

              It’s a bit different if either there is a situation which is not covered by the rules or following the procedures would be dangerous for some unforeseen reason, but neither of those apply here.

              * I, and many others, still dispute that 15.3 gives him that right anyway, and without that what he did was completely against the rules.

          3. Absolutely correct.

        2. The argument “it’s only the British fans angry” is not only wrong it’s disingenuous. Grow up.

          1. Mention one country where they do discuss in national papers, online fora like this, about a stolen championship, fia corruption etc etc. It’s clear GB did’t leaf it behind yet, and I’m glad that on a platform like this with mostly british and LH fans, the discussion stays mostly correct. But, sorry again, the british bias of the mostly british F1 press (worldpress) is astonishing.

            1. I’m not a Briton and neither do I live there and this debacle is still the main thing being discussed within my F1 circles (including many non-LH fans). It is utter nonsense to peg it to Britain, LH fans.

            2. Plenty of negative online comments about it from the US, if you care to look. And that’s a market the FIA/Liberty really want to attract.

          2. I notice there is still a lot of media attention about this subject from dominant UK F1 outlets and the ones who are still complaining are dominantly LH fans. I understand it hurts, the way LH lost the WDC got to hurt but had nothing to do with Masi but because of all the mistakes Merc and LH made during the season.

            1. had nothing to do with Masi

              If Masi had followed the same procedure he had at all other dry grand prix in the past (which he had previously stated he had no choice but to follow), or if he had followed one of the other procedures laid out in the regulations, I would agree with you. He didn’t. Instead, he made up something on the spot which nobody had ever seen before. That definitely has something to do with Masi, and that should be understandable no matter who you support.

        3. This is an assumption on your part and you have no black and white facts to back up this claim. Lets rewind the last few laps. SC car called and Merc pit Lewis. Max would then stay out to inherit track position. So now Lewis is on new softs and Max on used Hards. Masi says “lapped cars cannot overtake” then changes his mind. Max’s race engineer tells him over the radio race will resume on lap 58. Would you have been sitting watching this thinking great job Masi well done you did the right thing ressuming the race. Hand on heart you would be screaming all types of swear words.

        4. Jean-Christophe
          4th January 2022, 17:12

          I don’t live in the UK, not even a English speakinand the way the race ended has drawn controversy. That insubstantiated argument about it only be a UK issue is tiring.

          1. Send me a article of today discussing this subject in your country. Be aware not from a UK F1 outlet.

            1. The first 3 are British; lol and do you understand what the one from Germany says ??
              No ?? It’s say that the complaining about the raceleader must stop. And I translate it in a nice way

            2. These links by NeverElectric are mostly about Saint Lewis sulking in his secret hideout and not responding to messages by this new F1 boss. While the British media (like this site) are still going on about the unjustice poor Lewis had to endure.

              Just to make my opinion on this case clear: Mercedes did have opportunities during the race tp put Lewis on new tyres. Fear of Max prevented them from doing it.

              In the end Mercedes and Lewis got what we call the reward of fear.

              Simple as that.

            3. Can you point me to a F1 forum in another country where I can see what they are debating.?
              I can’t find any.

            4. NeverElectric
              5th January 2022, 0:09

              When did the US become part of the UK? You said show you an article discussing this issue from any country apart from the UK – I showed you 4. Neither Australia nor Nz are part of the UK.
              The German article is talking about the issue – whether they say complaining must stop is irrelevant (no need to translate, I do speak German), they ARE talking about it.
              What the articles prove is that it is false to say this is a “UK issue”.
              It is being discussed around the world – indeed, I take it you’re not British, and you’re here discussing it, so there.
              QED.

            5. I think the British are living rent free in your head my friend. Let it go. You will feel better.

            6. @NeverElectric

              That first one is Australian, not American. So you have 3 articles from down under. Are you from that region?

          2. Jean-Christophe
            5th January 2022, 0:30

            so you are capable of knowing what’s happening all over the world and what’s being discussed? You’re not even bringing any arguments into the discussion but just dismissing the issue as if it’s about the British being unhappy.
            The British media has never been that kind with Sir Lewis Hamilton actually. Rules were bent and that is a fact. It’s decided the result of the championship.

            1. The British media has never been that kind with Sir Lewis Hamilton actually.

              Precisely. Much of the British media has been highly critical of LH from day one, and even those outlets are jumping up and down about this.

              Whether the media in other countries is on it, most of my non-UK non-LH-fan friends are still discussing it, and most agree that, although the result should not change, something must be done to prevent such a highly-controversial end to a championship (or race) happening again. The race director must be allowed some flexibility for safety reasons, but beyond that he should be just as bound by rules as everyone else.

        5. Yes, I agree. Its pretty much just British and or Hamilton fans who are dissatisfied and calling for Masi to be replaced.
          Just check the loaded wording in this article. (eg. there were searches for Masi, so that must mean they all disagree with his decision).
          Imagine the crap-fest (for anybody else not British that is) if Hamiliton had of walked it in under safety car and been gifted the championship. That would have been really sad.

      4. Replacing Masi will make no difference. I don’t care which drivers benefitted or lost out.

        When rules aren’t followed with consistency it is always a recipe for complete disaster.

        I’m still peeved at what the race director did but part of me wonders if there was pressure elsewhere, behind the scenes that caused this.

        I’m now just hoping the new regulations is enough of a distraction, sick of this topic.

        1. @icarby – Yeah I agree. Obviously Lewis lost out so there is a high proportion of people complaining about Abu Dhabi in isolation because their driver didn’t win but ultimately, it’s the inconsistency that is causing massive problems in F1. That is something that certainly didn’t affect Abu Dhabi in isolation.

          The season started with a driver being allowed to leave the track over and over and then when another team caught on to it and instructed their driver to do the same, the rules were suddenly changed.

          We had drivers penalised for pushing a driver wide in Austria but then it was viewed as perfectly acceptable later in the season. When the drivers asked for clarification on what was allowed, none was given.

          Sometimes you can retain your position by leaving the track and sometimes you can’t….

          There are clear rules for all of these things that are ignored and it’s just as important as what happened in Abu Dhabi. Until the FIA can consistently apply the rules, there will always be accused of acting unfairly.

          1. My understanding of what happened in Bahrain is different to yours but the flip flopping and inconsistent application of the rules is something we can definitely agree upon. In Bahrain, drivers were instructed that t4 would not be monitored for lap times. Hamilton used/abused this to his advantage. Red Bull complained during the race and the directive was changed, hence the warnings. Then Max overtook Hamilton whilst off track, which is supposed to be an absolute no no so he was instructed to give the place back. This rule clearly didn’t apply in Abu Dhabi because although it was a super late lunge, Max fairly got ahead of Lewis on lap 1 and Lewis should have had to give up the place (my thoughts at the time were that Ham gave up the advantage by slowing but a. This has been shown to not be the case and b. Max had made the overtake, stayed on track and deserved the spot). All season long there’s been different outcomes for similar incidents. Some they’ve let go and some they’ve punished for less. This needs to change.
            Beyond this, Masi broke a number of written regulations in the final laps of the AB. Added to the rest of the decisions across the year, it is clear change is needed.

            1. @aezy_doc

              That a turn is not monitored for lap times (and thus will not invalidate a (fastest) lap time) doesn’t mean that the race director can’t warn a driver that routinely cuts the track or that the driver can’t be penalized by the stewards for doing so. It’s pretty normal for the stewards to allow a few violations, but to go after people who do it routinely.

              Anyway, Red Bull complained about it and the race director did nothing about it, so Red Bull instructed Max to do the same. Then Masi very quickly decided that it was no longer allowed. This seems utterly unfair and based on a fear that all drivers would start doing it and make a farce of the white lines, while one driver doing it was not a serious concern. Yet this is utterly unsporting, with one driver getting a huge benefit that is denied to other drivers.

              If Masi would have let all drivers exceed the track limits for the entire race, it could at least be claimed that other teams didn’t realize that the vague directive allowed for routine track limit violations. Yet as it was, the race director intervened in a very unsporting way.

      5. Jesus, get over it. No one outside Britain seeing anything seeing with what happened.

        1. It’s nothing to do with where one lives. It was a sham, a debacle, wherever you reside.

          1. It’s solely British point of view and it’s heavily prejudiced.

        2. Rubbish, most F1 fans around the world know that the end to that race was controversial and extremely unusual. It will be interesting to see fans reactions to Max at this years races. Lewis generally got a lot of booing mostly because people got fed up with him winning.
          Interestingly the Brazilian fans who are the generally very knowledgeable started to boo Verstappen after Lewis was dropped to the back of the grid at Inter Lagos.
          I predict Max will get a hard time after this except of course in Holland.

          1. I already posted links about cheering max fans all around the world.
            Is funny some hamfans seem to think every max fan is from “Holland”.
            The new kid on the block crushed Lewis and people love him for it.
            Hence the most popular driver in the world price.

            1. erike you completely mis-read my post. Yes most races last year Max was cheered to the rafters.
              Funny I have two UK friends who love Max and not Lewis so this its all “British” are hamfans is ridiculous.
              My point is that a lot of non-biased F1 fans may well give Max a hard time next year..
              Did you not hear your hero being booed in Brazil.?

          2. Again, you trying to imply what you want. But no, entire world is saying nothing wrong in restarting the race fort one lap. Only British press still trying to bring this subject and Toto.

      6. @red-andy I would argue that Masi does need to be replaced, because his role is defined as ensuring that the race is held in compliance with the regulations and in the safest possible manner.

        There is nothing in his role that means he should be trying to act to “spice up the show”, and if he is diverting attention towards “does this make for good viewing” instead of “what is the safest course of action that is within the regulations”, then he is fundamentally not obeying his role and is raising serious ethical questions. This mentality has resulted in a number of decisions that were made because “the show” was given too much weight, with some of those decisions resulting in dangerous events on track.

        Back in Imola in 2020, when we had the near miss in the latter stages of the race when cars were ordered to unlap themselves whilst marshals were still on the track, what was the reason given? It was the same excuse that was given in Abu Dhabi – that they didn’t want the race to finish under a safety car, so they rushed the restart procedures to get the green flag waived as soon as possible.

        Similarly, think back to Turkey 2020 and the decision to restart qualifying whilst the marshals were still recovering a car. Again, what was the excuse given there? It was very similar to Abu Dhabi – Masi was in a rush to waive the green flag as soon as possible to get qualifying restarted, so he rushed through the restart procedures and, in that case, didn’t bother checking that the marshals had finished recovery operations.

        There seems to have been a definite shift under Masi towards a mentality that “the show must be decided on track” – indeed, we have had an individual from FOM indicate that Liberty Media have pressured Masi in that direction – and that excuse is being abused to justify decisions from race control that are being made for the wrong reasons. People look at Abu Dhabi in isolation, but it is just one of a number of races where the excuse of “the show must be decided on track” was used to justify decisions that drew a considerable backlash from many here.

        At best, it undermines the basis under which the race director is meant to act, as it will make all involved question whether their welfare is considered a secondary consideration to “the show” and make the race director so distrusted that it ultimately damages the sport.

        At worst, I fear that the mentality that “the show must be decided on track” will result in a similar sequence of events to those which happened in Imola in 2020, or Turkey in 2020, but that the sport might not be so lucky and somebody is seriously injured or killed because race control cared more about “the show” than whether something was being done correctly and because too many demand that “we must have races settled on the track”.

        1. Well put. This is part of a worrying pattern.

        2. @anon

          I would argue that if it’s the goal to have as much green flag racing as possible, the rules should make that possible in the safest way, for example, by not having cars unlap themselves, but to send them to the back of the pack.

          Rules that are necessary for safety should simply be followed.

          Note that the claim is that in Turkey 2020, the clerk predicted that the crane would be gone in time and that Masi acted on that. Yet it seems questionable to me to clear a track based on a prediction, rather than on the track actually being clear. At the very least, the track should then be monitored and the session stopped if the track isn’t cleared in time.

          1. Rules that are necessary for safety should simply be followed.

            All rules should be followed in the situations laid out in the regulations, unless it is unsafe to do so. If they want to operate differently, the rules should be changed.

    2. There’s a lot of things that contributed to what, in my eyes as a (relatively neutral) fan, was a wrong decision by Masi in Abu Dhabi. First, the use of the safety car and the exact way how it should be used being at the race director’s discretion is a good thing (i mention this because fans were complaining about it after the race), second, the teams constantly radioing him and asking him to make decisions which favoured themselves. Football players get penalised for doing so, at the referee’s discretion. Should the race director maybe have the power to do so in these specific circumstances? After all, it’s not a good image for the sport. This constant radio also impedes the race director’s work, after all he’s also connected via radio to all of his team, delegates and marshal posts. How about in the event of an accident he has more time to talk to the people that actually matter rather than waste his time hearing Mr. Wolff’s and Mr. Horner’s bickering pro or against a Saftety Car?
      This all contributed to the wrong decision being made. There was a very simple call that Masi could’ve made that would leave nobody at an advantage or disadvantage: a red flag. And there’s a precedent for using a red flag for the sole reason of finishing the race in green conditions, 2021 Azerbaijan GP. Everyone can change the tires, all lapped cars can unlap themselves and nobody gains/loses anything. Nobody would have a case for an official complaint and nobody would have a case for an appeal, as there would be no investigation to be had. The championship would be decided on a 2 lap showdown with a standing start and everyone on soft and/or fresh tires. We’d have a show, the winner would be happy, the loser would be less dissatisfied than they actually were. Everyone wins.

      1. Agreed…presumably pre race you’d have a track map of where the cranes/gaps etc are and mark out areas where a car is difficult to recover. If someone stops there, instant Red flag…

      2. From a safety perspective, there was no need for a red flag. I don’t agree with throwing these safety cars and red flags for the sake of the show, and the same in Azerbaijan.

        The problem with all these red flags is that, in the past, teams had to look at an incident and guess if there was going to be a safety car or a red flag. They generally had to think about the severity of the incident and how long it would take to repair. But now, they also have to think about how much the race director wants there to be action at that particular moment, and I think that brings too much luck into the equation. In the last two years, there have been a huge amount of red flags compared to normal, and many of them haven’t been necessary from a safety perspective. Obviously to suggest that Grosjean’s crash in Bahrain didn’t warrant a red flag would be absolutely ludicrous, and the same with the Mugello restart crash. But from a safety perspective, the Baku one wasn’t necessary and so, from a sporting perspective, should have finished under safety car. Perhaps a good compromise would be to revert to rolling starts after a red flag.

        Thinking back to the last brilliant title battle we had, in 2012, that season finished under the safety car, after Paul di Resta crashed in Brazil and there were no complaints about that. If it had happened in 2022, maybe the red flag would have been called. A one-lap restart may have taken place, with Alonso starting second and needing to pass Button to win, and Vettel in sixth needing to stay out of trouble. Yes, that would have been thrilling, but at that point Vettel had won it fair and square and it would be unnecessary and unfair to throw his championship up in the air when he just had to get round the final couple of laps, because of an incident that would have just been a safety car if it had happened at any other time in the season. And I say this as someone who still to this day wishes Alonso had won that championship.

        I suppose what I am trying to say is that safety cars and red flags are necessary to neutralise the race, for safety reasons, but they always bring a large amount of luck into play, particularly red flags now with the standing starts. So I believe they should only be used when necessary for safety reasons, and not additionally to spice up the show. But I have never minded safety cars in the past, because they were always used consistently and so it was easier for the teams to predict when they were coming. And maybe in five or ten years time, the same will happen, but with the new conditions. But at the moment, it feels too random whether or not a red flag will be called, and that is increasing the amount that luck plays a part.

        In this situation, I think the best thing to do would be to restart but leave the lapped cars where they were, as that is allowed in the rules. The second-best option would be to finish under safety car. Then red flag comes third. And what actually happened was very definitely the worst option. In fact, it shouldn’t even have been an option.

        1. Quite, so take the guess work out of it. Here it’s a red, here it’s a safety or virtual safety car. It shouldn’t be random

          1. But it is not random.
            To call a red flag there are well defined rules in the rulebook.
            It simply was no red flag situation.
            A vsc is only to clear the track without crastenders or such on the track. In this situation it wad a SC. And the rules are in place to resume racing as soon as it is safe to do so.

            1. … and they weren’t followed.

              Let’s face it, had Masi’s actions given the title to Hamilton, you’d still be screaming.

            2. Every time you say this, I become more and more convinced you haven’t read the rules. A red flag is at the clerk of the course’s (who can be overruled by the race director) discretion if he deems the situation isn’t safe even behind the safety car.

              On the other hand, the rules about the procedure to resume racing after a safety car period weren’t followed, to the point that the FIA had to claim article 15.3 means the race director can do anything he wants (dis) regarding safety car protocols.

            3. (@warheart)
              The rules were followed but in an unconventional way.
              So you can repeat that statement but that does not make it true.
              I linked in one of the many Keith articles about this subject the exact rules about red flag situation.
              There was never a red flag situation. But I understand bending the rules favoring Lewis is acceptable.

            4. Davethechicken
              4th January 2022, 18:20

              Explain why Baku was a red flag then Erijke? Max crashed opposite the pit lane. The SC, as it has done many times could have led the pack down the pit lane perfectly safely.
              The Red flag was for the show, no other logical reason
              I am not arguing for a red flag in Abu Dhabi by the way, just pointing out the complete inconsistent application of rules.

              Similarly in Saudi Arabia, Max received a slap on the wrist penalty for repeated transgressions which really should have led to a stop go penalty given the repetitive deliberate rule breaking.

            5. @davethechicken
              Completely different situation. Cradhed car with car parts all around on the fastest part of the track.
              Tires in imminent danger.
              The discussion was why the red flag was not called out earlier.
              Do not use fantasy “arguments” to further taint your narrative.

            6. @Davethechicken
              Baku Red Flag was explicitly called to have everbody put on fresh tires, because at this point blown up tires were a severe safety hazard. With fresh tires that danger was reduced significantly. So Yes, Baku was Red flagged because of severe safety issues that could not be resolved unter a safety car.
              Completly different case to Abu Dhabi.

            7. Davethechicken
              4th January 2022, 22:13

              Sorry erijke, it appears you didn’t read what I wrote or see the incident.
              Max crashed opposite the pit at Baku. After the pit entrance. There was no debris before the pit lane, on the pit lane or after the pit exit.
              I will give the benefit off the doubt that you didn’t actually see or watch it. Otherwise your comment is completely at odds with reality.

            8. Davethechicken
              4th January 2022, 22:17

              @erijke.there was hardly a risk of imminent tyre failure behind the safety car now was there? There was no way the race would have restarted, there were hardly any laps left
              Also they didn’t red flag strolls accident earlier that actually was before put entrance. So clearly they weren’t concerned by his tyre failure or debris etc.
              Your argument is nonsense.

            9. @erikje you definitely live in a parallel reality. Here’s the red flag regulations, I added the bold font:

              50.1 If Competitors or officials are placed in immediate physical danger by cars running on the track, and the clerk of the course deems circumstances are such that the track cannot be negotiated safely, even behind the safety car, the sprint qualifying session or the race will be suspended.
              Should it become necessary to suspend the sprint qualifying session or the race, the clerk of the course will order red flags to be shown at all marshal posts and the abort lights to be shown at the Line.

              Deem – to consider or judge something in a particular way

              Safety car restart rules with lapped cars unlapping (relevant parts):

              48.12 If the clerk of the course considers it safe to do so, and the message “LAPPED CARS MAY NOW OVERTAKE” has been sent to all Competitors via the official messaging system, any cars that have been lapped by the leader will be required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the safety car.
              (…)
              Unless the clerk of the course considers the presence of the safety car is still necessary, once the last lapped car has passed the leader the safety car will return to the pits at the end of the following lap.

              And your take is that the rules were followed “in an unconventional way”. Which means “not followed”, because I hardly think anyone would agree that 15.3 means the race director can do anything he wants disregarding the rules. Otherwise, 15.3 d) gives the race director full power over the starting procedure. He could open the pitlane 40 minutes before the race start, and close it 39 minutes and 45 seconds before the race start.

            10. @davethechicken.
              So we can conclude you do not understand the red flag rules.
              I will try (to no avail probably)
              Only when a SC can not solve the safety problem, a red flag is allowed.
              There was no problem with the safety during the SC period. So no red flag.
              Again, you like to bend rules favoring Lewis. Just be honest about it.
              As far as Baku concerns, calling a red flag there was never in dispute. It wad the late moment he called it that was discussed.
              Bending the truth seems also acceptable for you.

          2. Davethechicken
            5th January 2022, 13:39

            RenM, I know why they say they called the Red flag in Baku, but let’s face it. Max crashed lap 46/51 the SC was out for 3 laps, before red flag. there was no way to clear the debris in the next few minutes and there was no risk of a high speed tyre failure when the SC was out, so the declared reason for the Red flag simply does not reflect reality.
            So I disagree, it was all for the show. No one was going to suffer high speed tyre failure at safety car speed.
            As for erijke- seriously reread my post. I did not want a red flag at Baku and I am not commenting on LH or mv. I am a fan of neither. You seem obsessed with berating anyone who doesn’t hero worship Max like you do. They must support LH they don’t share your worship of mv.

      3. FlyingLobster27
        4th January 2022, 14:13

        Having thought about this at length, I agree that the team principals’ bickering was a factor. It shouldn’t have been allowed. Just like managers can be sent to the grandstands in football, Horner should have been banned from pit wall for the rest of the season for his “rogue marshall” comment. Wolff should be benched for 5 races for merely asking the race director not to deploy the Safety Car – you DO NOT argue on safety calls like that. “It’s called a motor race, Toto” surely embodies Masi’s frustration with the back-and-forth that went on in that race.
        However, I am no more sympathetic towards Masi. SC procedure should be a second nature to race directors, there should be no hesitation on what can and cannot be done, and how it should be done. He should have rebuked Horner firmly: “if I let cars through, we won’t restart on time. End of discussion.”
        Instead, I think he panicked. His defence before the stewards, simply toeing the Red Bull line that 48.12 can be overruled (sure, if it’s not being applied at all, I guess it can be), that 15.3 gives him the power to throw out the entire article 48 anyway, and that his ultimate defence was “we all want to finish under green” – sure, finishing under yellow sucks, but… that’s not a rule, mate, and your job is to enforce rules – show it wasn’t a thought-through decision.
        Does he need to go? I mostly think he needs to read and remember the rules during the off-season. The pinnacle of motorsport cannot do with a referee who gets non-trick questions wrong at the worst possible moment.

      4. Yes. I m amazed Masi didn’t throw a red flag. It suggests he had not made any plans for this sort of scenario which was not that extraordinary and the tightness of the race surely prompted a team meeting in the Director’s room in the previous week to look for all possible positions, problems and disasters.

        But the fluffing about from Masi suggested he had not done proper preparation and was making it up as he went along. Quite unacceptable. I want a championship of races not chance changes to well worn rules.

        F1 needs a Director who has the confidence to tell team bosses to buggr off. Masi hasn’t got it. Could you see Charlie Whiting allowing himself to be browbeaten into rule changes on the hoof?. Is Masi’s lack of self confidence the result of the FIA holding him on a temporary string for so long?

        The FIA are the root of all the problems in F1: weak in defending the sport against the institutional money bags demanding a ‘show’, poor staff planning and ridiculously allowing the commercial right holders’ folk to set the rules for next year and not energetically completing the rule book review promised so long ago.

        1. Yes, a fantasy red flag bending the rules to favour the leader is very acceptable on this forum :)

          1. Whereas ignoring the mandatory lap before the safety car can come in when unlapping cars– ignoring that rule’s OK.

            But that’s expected– you’ve lived in fantasy land for years.

            1. Erikje’s basic argument in all of this is that Masi’s bizarre, last minute interpretation of the rules benefitted Max so therefore it’s OK. If the rules had been interpreted consistently and Max had not won it would have been wrong.

            2. @(@phil-f1-21)
              Inventing “arguments* for me does not work.
              Masi used the rules and speeded up the restart. Unconventional but within the rules.
              Of course I would have been disappointed. But I still live in reality and not in your dreamland.
              Mercedes gamble went wrong and that’s the reason Lewis lost.
              (and his sub par defending, but that will Hurt you even more)

    3. I’ve discussed before I think the safety car procedure could be improved in a way that could have prevented this mess, particularly around unlapping cars (have them all peel off in order into the pits and rejoin the end of the pack once it’s passed)…other than that I don’t think any other changes need to be made.

      The rules give the race director the power to make discretionary changes if they think it’s warranted, which may be necessary at times…but I think Massi made a mistake here and unduly penalised other drivers (like Carlos Sainz) by focusing purely on Lewis and Max. Hopefully he’s learned from that!

      What I’d be interested to know is what, if any, pressure was placed on MM from F1 themselves to make sure the race finished as a race, and not behind the safety car?

      1. What I’d be interested to know is what, if any, pressure was placed on MM from F1 themselves to make sure the race finished as a race, and not behind the safety car?

        That would be a fascinating development, imagine if it was Brawn or Domenicali that made the order… I wonder if they even have a line to Masi for during the race.

        1. I’d be gobsmacked if Brawn or Domenicali had been on the line somewhere shouting at him to “get the race going again”, but there could certainly have been prior discussions about that situation occurring. I don’t imaging that Massi made the decision to remind all the drivers before the race that point can in exceptional circumstances be taken away in isolation.

          1. JustlandedfromMars
            4th January 2022, 16:57

            @justlandedfromMars. Brawn nor Domenicali would not make that call to MM…Horner did…when he told MM “we JUST need one lap”… Watch the replay. I had to go back and play a few times. Wow!

      2. That would be a faster way of unlapping cars.

        As for the “pressure” to finish under green flag, that actually came from the team principals after a couple of races that finished under safety car. Apparently, there was discussion before Abu Dhabi, and the team principals (ie, Horner, Wolff) expressed their desire to end the race, well, racing.

        Masi could have easily done that by not unlapping any cars (which *was* his first decision), and restarting as soon as the track was clear– we’d have had two to three laps of racing, and if Max could have passed all 5 lapped cars and caught Lewis, it would have been a well-deserved win. But no, Horner had to snivel, so Masi panicked, and tried to make every one happy, and made himself and the FIA look like a bunch of first class idiots.

      3. I have an opinion
        4th January 2022, 22:32

        I have had a sickening suspicion since the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix that someone from Liberty (most likely Ross Brawn) has a hotline to the Race Director. What gave it away for me was Masi’s discussion with Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley about which position Verstappen should be in at the restart. Masi made a suggestion to Wheatley which totally ignored and was unfair to Ocon. A little later, Masi came back with a different, correct offer. I suspect, in the interim, Brawn got hold of Masi and told him what the correct decision should be.

        It will not matter who the (new) Race Director is, if they are still beholden to Liberty.

        1. @I have an opinion

          You are confused. Masi’s originally stated offer was for Max to be dropped behind Ocon, but in front of Lewis, which was not at all unfair to Ocon. However, this almost certainly was due to Masi being overfocused on Max & Lewis and forgetting all about Ocon. I don’t think that what he said was what he intended to offer, which was to put Max behind Lewis.

          Anyone who did pay attention to Ocon could have attended Masi to that fact and even if no one did, Masi could have figured it out based on Red Bull spelling out clearly what they though Masi’s initial offer was.

    4. In regard to Massi, I’m tempted to say a new race director is needed, but given how he changed his mind on how the Abu Dhabi race would be restarted at the last minute, I’m leaning toward he did as he was told or he did all he could do given the instructions that came from higher up.
      That being said, I do believe significant changes are needed in managing race weekends. Here are just a few I could think of off the top of my head….
      1. The communication from teams to the race director should be changed and the lobbying and bargaining regarding penalties should end
      2. Awarding points for Spa was an abomination and rules should be incorporated to ensure something like that never happens again. If as they said there wasn’t a contingency plan to run on Monday is true, then the whole lot of them need to go. Any number of things could take place that could prevent the Grand Prix from running (death in a support race, intense fire that damages circuit, weather, etc) and to not have a plan in place is unconscionable. If they couldn’t run on Monday then they should have looked to reschedule the race or do a double header at an upcoming race, even if that meant running one race on Saturday and one on Sunday.
      3. Determining track limits at each track and during the race weekend should stop. There should be one hard and fast rule for what the limits of a circuit are and it should apply to all tracks even if that means some tracks would have to be modified.
      4. Determining or confirming driving standards which again will apply at all tracks. Everyone, drivers, teams, commentators and fans, should know what is and isn’t acceptable for a driver to do at any time on any circuit.

      1. +100 on all these points they are the top of my personal list on things that are ruining the sport. Just replacing Massi wouldn’t necessarily fix any of them.

      2. Agreed on all 4 points, but especially 3 and 4.

        Track limits should be easy to define, as the rulebooks clearly spells them out (the white lines). There should be no “It’s the kerb here, the line here, and we won’t bother with these ones at all”. How to determine what a lasting advantage is has always been murky, so I would get rid of that part. It doesn’t matter in football or tennis whether you gain a “lasting advantage” when the ball leaves the field of play, why should it matter in F1? Something like “Leave the track 5 times and you get a 5s penalty, no excuses or exceptions”, with more for well-defined more blatant incidents, and you would see far fewer occurrences. Let’s face it: When one of the top drivers in the world leaves the track multiple times in the same way, they are doing it in an attempt to gain an advantage.

        As for the final point, I completely and 100% agree. Defined “rules of engagement” which are published would let everyone (fans, media, teams and drivers) know exactly what was acceptable at any time. There would be far fewer arguments about on track action, and automatic, defined penalties for breaking them would reduce the talk of punishments being too lenient or harsh. Drivers would be free to use these to practice and train their driving style accordingly, knowing that certain manoeuvres were illegal and certain ones would be legal and advantageous.

        1. @drmouse To me it is obvious that track limits are not so easy to define when we’re asking these drivers to fling these cars around these tracks at breakneck speeds. Or if it was so easy they would and could have done it decades ago. This isn’t tennis or football, this is different. And if you like the perfectly black and white tennis or football reality where the line is the line, end of, then why 5 chances and then you’re penalized? Seems like you too realize it is not so easy to contain these cars within such strict lines after all.

          What about when a driver legally moves another driver wide and he goes over the line? Is that driver that got moved off to be penalized? I would say if they wanted it tennis-like in the way of exact determinations of off vs on, then they need to create physical reasons such as gravel right on the other side of lines so that drivers will have to police themselves knowing it is simply too risky to go a bit wide. And then to me you’ve created a scenario of drivers afraid to take any chances, afraid to race. Perhaps that will be less of an issue with the new cars that perhaps (I’m speculating) a driver will feel more inclined to wait for a better opportunity knowing he’s not handcuffed in dirty air nor dealing with tire temps that can’t be messed with for fear of poorer performance and lost opportunity because of one passing attempt.

          This also ties in with defining rules of engagement. We already know what those are. They don’t need to be redefined. We know what is acceptable in general. But we also know that there are an infinite number of scenarios that muddy the waters when it comes to determining what was acceptable and what was not, what was just hard racing. Thats why they have stewards and that’s why calls are often debatable, some moreso than others, and some much moreso than others.

          We know that it is acceptable at some point that a driver can take ownership of the real estate, usually mid-way through a corner and beyond, where he can squeeze his opponent and force him to back off, go off, or hit me. It’s how, when, and where, and sometimes why that gets executed that muddies the waters and makes yet another theoretical, on paper definition of what the rules of engagement are moot. Your last paragraph sounds to me like you would prefer robots in the drivers seats than humans. Drivers already know what is legal and illegal, and they know that sometimes it is something in between, because they are human and are racing ‘for their life.’ Automatic defined penalties, no discussion, but ‘freedom’ to drive in a restricted and limited way? No thanks. I think the stewards get it right the vast majority of the time, and otherwise I enjoy the controversy and the debate as to why the stewards decided one way or another when some think they got it wrong on a given incident.

          1. To me it is obvious that track limits are not so easy to define when we’re asking these drivers to fling these cars around these tracks at breakneck speeds.

            I disagree. In all sports, the competitors are pushing themselves to the limits of what they are capable. Dribbling a football down the touch line, hitting a tennis ball across the court to land millimeters to the correct side of the line, these all take a similar amount of skill to finding the precise fastest line through a corner which doesn’t have you leave the track. The tiniest of errors will mean you push just beyond the limits. In pretty much every other sport, exceeding the playing area is immediately dealt with. If another player forces them off illegally, then that player is penalised, and if they force them off legally, the one who left the play field is penalised.

            My suggestion of a 5s penalty after 5 occurrences was basically and idea I’ve had for a while which would allow the stewards to give a “1s penalty”, but have them only applied in groups of 5. It could be done as a “3 strikes and you’re out”, or even just “1s will be added to your final time”, instead.

            As for the “rules of engagement”, I am aware that there will be some “grey areas”, but these should be kept as minimal as possible. The more open the rules are to interpretation, the more controversial incidents will become and the less “fair” many decisions will appear. As things stand now, almost every incident is a “grey area” in terms of whether it is allowed, and absolutely every penalty is “grey” in terms of how much it is penalised. Making the rules clearer, better defined, including what the penalties are for each (while leaving the option open for the stewards to apply a harsher penalty if there is significant justification) would lead to a much fairer state of play in which everyone knows how nearly every situation will be handled in advance.

            Your last paragraph sounds to me like you would prefer robots in the drivers seats than humans.

            No, what I would like is a fair, consistent and understandable application of the rules. The best way to do this, in my opinion, is to make those rules as black-and-white as possible.

            I think the stewards get it right the vast majority of the time, and otherwise I enjoy the controversy and the debate as to why the stewards decided one way or another when some think they got it wrong on a given incident.

            I’m with you that the stewards mostly get it right, although I’m not sure I would agree with “the vast majority of the time” this season. I also quite enjoy the debate around stewards decisions at times. But these have happened far too frequently this season. Pretty much every race this year, multiple drivers have complained that they were penalised when someone else wasn’t, or that someone got away with something which others were punished for. Even before Abu Dhabi, there has been more debate about what the rules are, and what they should be, than about the racing itself. Drivers, teams and fans have no idea where the boundaries lie as they change from one race to another, one incident to another, more than any other season I can remember. This has encouraged drivers to push those boundaries, which has resulted in even more random-appearing penalties. This cannot be good for the appearance of F1 as a sport (although it’s probably good for DTS).

            1. @drmouse I get what you are saying, and I don’t disagree entirely, particularly with your last paragraph, however…lol. Regarding track limits I still say F1 is different to football and tennis where very much an important essence of those sports indeed depends on keeping it within the lines, whereas obviously F1 is different, and we can safely say it is much more difficult to make the cut and dry rules as you would have them do, or they would have by now, either if it was feasible or desirable, and it seems like it is neither. I can’t help but picture, with your way, a race where the constant talk would be of adding up penalties and determining a winner in the end not based on when they cross the start/finish line but based on math accumulated throughout the race that has to be calculated out before a winner is officially announced. There’d be constant replays of when so and so went off and by how much and whether or not that would be penalty worthy and what that will all mean in the end relative to all the other drivers penalties for when they may or may not have gone off too much.

              As to rules of engagement, I just don’t think more meetings and more clarifications of what they already know isn’t going to suddenly make them race more cleanly or understand more clearly the penalties, when indeed there are an infinite number of scenarios, which is why incidents are looked at individually. Similar to track limits, if it was so easy or desirable they would have already done it. Imho, these guys go out and race hard and can’t do that with some paranoia and some theoretical hard and fast set of rules of engagement and some set of set penalties in mind, while they’re in the throws of hard racing. You want black and white rules for actions that aren’t black and white. One driver’s actions can change by the millisecond based on what the guy he is racing is doing by the millisecond. Hence the stewards intervention at times and the debate on said action or non-action on the stewards’ part.

              Let’s keep in mind the number of times we have heard of the teams themselves asking for less policing and to be left to race, and not have everything be decided in the steward’s room. I think you are advocating for what would amount to much more ‘court time’ and less time of just racing it out. Or put a different way, imho you think you are advocating for something more black and white that will eliminate much of the debate on incidents, and I don’t think that translates to reality on the track. It connotes, to me at least, every race being the equivalent of Monaco, with penalizing walls everywhere that result in a pretty processional affair.

              I do think ‘drivers, teams and fans’ for the most part have a pretty clear idea of where the boundaries lie, but yeah I get that there has been a bit of muddying of that this season generally under the ‘let them race’ category, which the teams themselves want. I’m mindful that while some of the incidents and their rulings have been controversial, it is moreso with fans who have certain allegiances that see the controversy whereas for Masi and the stewards it was not controversial at all. There reasoning for a penalty here and not a penalty there often has some merit to it, and of course I realize that has not always been the case this season, but for the most part imho it has. Yeah, sometimes it is for the show, to keep it out of the courtroom, and it is to ‘let them race,’ and that is not new.

              Could they tighten things up a little? Sure, they probably can. Perhaps they will. But I don’t think they can ever, nor should, make things as black and white as you would advocate.

          2. @Robbie

            We know that it is acceptable at some point that a driver can take ownership of the real estate, usually mid-way through a corner and beyond, where he can squeeze his opponent and force him to back off, go off, or hit me.

            I thought that I knew, but after this season I no longer believe that there are consistent rules that are being applied. We’ve seen a driver getting penalized after not being given space when going into a corner, we’ve seen a driver refusing to yield after a good dive bomb and then simply deciding to cut the chicane, being allowed to keep his place.

            1. @aapje I get your sentiment and I understand where it is coming from, and it is a sentiment shared by many, particularly about the 2021 season, but I just think that for the most part they got it right, and I just think it will continue to be taken as one incident at a time. In other words I don’t think it is entirely fair or accurate to say there are no longer consistent rules that are being applied when you factor in all the rulings they indeed got right, and factor in the fact that the teams themselves have advocated to be allowed to race, and not have everything decided in the stewards’ room. So when you add it all up, to me there were far more decision made correctly, and/or by the teams wishes, than decisions that they got wrong or didn’t have some valid reasoning from which to back up their decision.

    5. I think Masi should go, there is human error and mistakes, but this was another level of incompetence, nearly unimaginable. He’s had no control of the stewards all season, allowing them to come up with their own interpretations of the rules. Normally I’d be asking for some sort of explanation, but in allowing only half the field to unlap themselves, there is simply no excuse.

      FIA should move forward from here with a new system, if they do keep Masi as the race director in name, they need to reduce the scope of his role and have him purely focus on procedures and getting them 100% correct. As he said in Jeddah he has too many buttons to press, too many people to speak to and speaking to him, it was clear from the panic in his voice he was not coping.

      Hopefully something comes of it all, though I’m not holding my breath. I’m not convinced the controversy is as bad for F1 as they lead on. It got a lot of people talking…

      1. @skipgamer

        He’s had no control of the stewards all season

        Correctly so. Masi has to answer to the stewards not the other way around.

        1. I think this is something we need to remember: Masi is not the “referee”, the’s a manager who organises what is going on. The stewards are the referees who decide on matters of the rules. They have been pretty terrible at it this year, worse than others, but that’s not Masi’s fault.

          What is Masi’s fault is that he decided to follow a completely new and unprecedented procedure in the closing laps of the final race which applied totally different rules to different drivers. Whether he is allowed to do so or not, it was always going to be incredibly controversial to do so, much more controversial than using any of the options which were laid out and available to him in the rulebook, which had been used countless times before, and he does deserve the flack he is getting for it because of that.

        2. It would be nice if it worked that way, but it doesn’t. Masi is integral to the stewarding decisions, he said so himself, that all the decisions go through him first, if he can get the driver to rectify what he sees as the issue, then the stewards don’t even get a look in.

          He’s also the one who explains the stewards decisions, and gives directives as to how decisions should be reached.

          That’s are a big part of why there are so many inconsistencies, if they are going to keep this system they need to replace him. Or fix the system in the first place, to as you say, seperate the roles of procedures and ensuring safety on the track, and stewarding/penalty decisions. There really is no reason for these to be entwined as they are.

      2. Masi should be gone already so a new experienced race director (WEC anybody?) can be brought in early and oversee the absolutely necessary review and re-write of the rules. I don’t see how anybody but RB (and erikje) can trust Masi going forward. His and the FIA’s image is shot and in need of as much repairs as the rules. The new president has the opportunity to start from a clean slate. He should take it!

    6. Wanting to avoid an SC finish (even though this isn’t bad, given its extreme rareness), nothing wrong, but this should’ve got done with all lapped drivers remaining lapped. Thus no protocol breach would’ve occurred.
      Yes, probably unpopular among RBR, but one can’t make biased-based decisions that put sporting fairness aside.
      Nothing wrong with having lapped drivers in the mix for a single green-flag lap, either.
      I’m not sure sacking Masi would necessarily solve things, but I hope nothing similar will ever reoccur.
      I also hope he’d finally clear his image by explaining himself.
      For instance, why he felt Sainz & others didn’t deserve an equally fair shot at attempting P1 considering race director/governing body should always be entirely impartial regardless of championship/pecking order status.
      Why he essentially went against his 2020 Eifel GP words, etc.
      Alternatively, would he have done the same if someone other than Max was P2 or positions were opposite (most likely on the latter option)?
      I’ve also wondered if a similar late-race situation arises in a non-WDC decisive race such as in the early-season phase, would he be okay with lapped drivers staying between P1 & 2 for a single green-flag lap or equally breach protocols?

      1. Alternatively, would he have done the same if someone other than Max was P2 or positions were opposite

        It’s these kind of remarks that tainted every decent discussion about what happened there.
        Appalling.

        1. but I think it’s the crux of the issue. The race director made a decision to reinterpret the rules in a way that unequally affected all drivers. He did this only because the cars in position 1 & 2 were fighting for the championship. Had Max and Carlos swapped positions would he have still cleared away only the lapped cars up to Max. Why should the rules be applied to you differently because you’re higher in the championship?

          Surely all the rules should be applied to all teams and drivers equally at all times?

          1. Surely all the rules should be applied to all teams and drivers equally at all times?

            If so stewards and judges are not Neede anymore.
            Not the persons involved (that’s the appalling part) but the situation dictate the way a rule is forced.
            Just a a judge will do when you break a rule but the reason is valid.
            Bureaucracy will flourish with rule knights only.

          2. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
            4th January 2022, 16:11

            Surely all the rules should be applied to all teams and drivers equally at all times?

            Indeed they should. This has been the dilemma in some discussions relating to different stewards doing different things. How to combat that is a priority.

            1. Only if the situation is exactly the same that is.

          3. @jodrell

            Equal decisions regardless of the competitive situation or the impact is simply not going to happen when humans make the decisions. In any sport we see that these things change how decisions are made.

            This goes beyond decisions during the race, as it was suddenly decided this year to penalize people touching the car of other drivers. It’s hard to not see that as a change due to the competitive situation.

        2. Pot.

          Kettle.

          1. Just to clarify, my comment was in response to Erikje stating

            “It’s these kind of remarks that tainted every decent discussion about what happened there.
            Appalling.”

    7. I think F1 needs to decide whether it wants to be a sport or a show. There are still far too many ways the regulations and rules strip a team/driver who is deservedly winning/leading of that lead due to various reasons.
      Safety Car is one of those things, to bunch the field together when strategies and decisions have already been made to gain a substantial lead (this happened in the last race, but also many other times)
      The leader was quite simply in substantial lead that the rules stripped him of. That was unfair and unsporty, for the sake of “safety”. I think there are far better, completely safe solutions to distruptions on track than a Safety Car.
      VSC was a good step forward in this.
      Hot on the topic is also changing tyres under red flag. This should only be allowed in the same way as changing any other part of the car, only in case of damage.
      Overtaking is clearly defined in the rules but enforced in a silly, inconsistent way. I think all tracks should all follow the same track boundary rules (white lines, no kerbs) and if you simply cannot stay within them, you violate the rules unless forced off.
      Race restarts also strip leaders of their gained lead.
      Saying “counting on Safety Car is part of strategy” is just nonsensical gibberish to me. Counting on someone crashing severly enough that the track needs clearing/repairing should not be part of any strategy of any sport.

      So to me its far more than the Race Director, the entire rule system and the way it was enforced completely failed in 2021 season, but been failing in all the seasons before too. And that was to detrimend of all teams on the grid.
      I think the rules should be more black/white and should aim more towards fair sport, not theatrical show.
      Sadly, F1 has gained a lot of viewers by going for the latter this year. I myself felt almost betrayed by the charade of the last race. I do think MV is the rightful fair winner of this season, but it should have happened earlier in the season and the last race was a complete farce that left me nervously, cautiously curious about F1s future.

      1. Davethechicken
        4th January 2022, 19:17

        I have hated the SC since it came in back in 1993, the reasons you state and the lottery of free pit stops. . The fair way to restart would be to red flag then time them off, one at a time, like WRC starts. each driver getting a green light when the appropriate time has passed reflecting the gap before the incident.

        1. SC really is a anti sport mechanic. I like your suggestion.

    8. The root of the issue, in my eyes, is that the role of race director has evolved massively since the beginning of Charlie Whiting’s tenure. The rulebooks, both sporting and technical, have become eye-watering in sheer length alone, and while Whiting was able to grow alongside that expansion over the years, Masi was simply thrown in at the deep end with less than 3 days’ warning.

      I have no idea how Charlie would have handled the season-ending call. With comparatively little transparency in his era, we likely wouldn’t have been satisfied that way either. But I do know that he had an encyclopaedic understanding of the rulebook, given that he had overseen its expansion, and the galling flip-flopping between “lapped cars may not overtake” and “can 5 specific cars please get out of the way” would never have happened.

      The blame for this is not entirely on Masi. Firing him would just incite another to take his place, one who would not be able to replace Charlie Whiting either. The FIA needs to accept that the game has changed, and that the race director needs more resources to comprehend the sheer volume of rule interpretations, team principal/sporting director complaints, and the needs of an ever-commercialised world. At the very least, team bosses should not have direct access to the race director!

      1. The rulebooks, both sporting and technical, have become eye-watering in sheer length alone

        The sporting regulations are 89 pages long. That is not even close to “eye-watering in sheer length”. If someone can’t read and understand 89 pages, which he can reference at will, there is something wrong. Heck, I have to read and understand new documentation on a regular basis which is much longer and more complex than that.

        IMHO Masi doesn’t really need to understand the technical regs fully. Decisions regarding details and loopholes in them can (and should) be allowed to take days (or even weeks) to sort out, and the specific regulations are more likely to be considered by technical delegates and stewards than the race director.

    9. Masi needs to go. For two reasons.

      It is clear he hasn’t been up to the standards of Whiting, which was always going to be the case, because Charlie had basically founded the position. The problem lies with the organization not having addressed the wealth of know-how that was lost with the departure of one person. That shouldn’t happen, procedures should be instituted over a person’s skills in case that person is no longer there and others can take over and perform.

      Secondly, the debacle at the finale was one in a long list of conflicts instigated by Masi himself. I think the organizer of a competition can do anything except 2 things: appear to have a favorite, and appear to not be in control, both of which where shown by MM in 2021.

      If a hard reset is to be made by the F1 business, Masi can not the person to be facing the public while they do it.

      1. Not sure if Charlie was up to the task at gand. More races, new tracks, new stewarding etc.. Masis task is significantly heavier then Charlie’s was. And even Charlie received some flak in his last seasons.
        Masi is not the root problem here.

        1. Have to agree, people tend to overrate whiting now but he had been criticised a lot at the time and made several questionable decisions, it’s just that masi was even worse, so race director could indeed not be the root problem.

        2. Very true, the odd interpretations of track limits and variable penalties for exceeding them, the “lasting advantage” dilemma. This has been building up for a long time and is easily seperable from Masi.

          I think the root cause of the problem is “let them race” mantra, people don’t want to see penalties ruining a race, but if the driver does something wrong they need to be penalised. And then it gets applied to situations like this last lap safety car debacle where it’s entirely irrelevant to why the mantra came up in the first place.

          1. @skipgamer

            I think the root cause of the problem is “let them race” mantra, people don’t want to see penalties ruining a race, but if the driver does something wrong they need to be penalised. And then it gets applied to situations like this last lap safety car debacle where it’s entirely irrelevant to why the mantra came up in the first place.

            Bingo.

            “Let them race” is a fine enough concept, but there do still need to be rules and, if someone breaks those rules, they should be penalised. The more relaxed you are with the rules, the more drivers will push them, which leads to more penalties and repeated calls to “let them race”. We need to recognise that, unless you are going to just have a free-for-all with no rules (which I don’t think anyone wants), there will and should be penalties when drivers break the rules. “Let them race” only works when the drivers stay within those rules.

            As long as the rules are well defined, the responsibility is upon the drivers to stay within those rules, and then they can be allowed to race without interference. If they don’t, a penalty should be applied.

            1. @drmouse I get what you’re saying but couldn’t it be said that if they always stay within the rules there is no “let them race.” There’s just “they’re racing.” Let them race implies, to me at least, let there be shades of grey sometimes where a driver or a pair of drivers gets away with something a little naughty but not enough that they need to be issued a penalty, but perhaps enough to at least be looked at by the stewards, who then decide nah let’s them race, which of course the teams want to see as well, as much as possible. Which then begets the endless debate around here lol.

            2. @robbie as before, I disagree. The more leeway you give the drivers, the more they will take, which leads to them having to be more and more lenient to avoid giving penalties, eventually leading to no rules at all. I don’t think we’re ever going to agree, though lol

            3. @drmouse I just don’t see the drivers being given more and more leeway. Sure it may seem like that with the few inconsistencies that happened this season, but I just don’t think the drivers and teams are sat there saying to themselves, ‘ok it looks like we now have the green flag to do such and such, because it now is guaranteed they aren’t penalizing for that anymore.’ I think overwhelmingly the drivers and teams know to assume the rules are the same and that penalties exist for breaching them, and it would be folly to assume otherwise by just throwing caution to the wind and hoping for a non-call.

            4. @robbie

              I just don’t see the drivers being given more and more leeway.

              Personally, I believe we have seen a large increase in on-track behaviour from many drivers which has been rare and heavily punished in previous seasons, and they have mostly got away with it. As the season has progressed and they have realised that such manoeuvres are more likely to be allowed, more drivers have done so, but the inconsistencies in when “let them race” applies has made it all the more confusing.

              The problem is that every driver is trying to get an advantage. If you tell them that, say, a 5% margin will be allowed on the pit lane speed limit in case they get it wrong, they will drive at 5% over the limit. If you tell them that, in close racing, they can get away with a manoeuvre sometimes, they will weigh up and will do it wherever the reward outweighs the risk of being penalised. The wider you make the grey areas, the more the drivers will push into them. It is natural for competitive people to push the rules as far as they can to gain an advantage, and it is natural that they will sometimes push them even further (whether by mistake or just taking a gamble). If these are not punished, they are seen as more grey area to exploit, and if they are, there are complaints that the officials are not letting them race…

            5. @drmouse Yeah it’s not like I don’t think you are making a valid point, particularly when this very type of concept of which you speak came up regarding wings this season. As CH said, give the engineers and designers the parameters, and knowing all wings have to flex somewhat, and they are going to make sure their wing flexes to the absolute maximum while still passing FIA’s most current flex test.

              I get what you are saying about drivers pushing the envelope if they think a precedent has been set, but I just don’t think a precedent has been set, and I think that, let’s say for example in the first number of races this year some drivers try to get away with some things because of what they saw in 2021, well imho they will be penalized like is the case the vast majority of the time, and they will soon realize there was a reason why a move was ‘allowed’ (and likely sometimes just barely allowed) and why their current move was not, and the reins will have been hauled in on them pretty quickly.

              It still overwhelmingly comes down to taking each incident on it’s own, one at a time as they happen, and rarely are two incidents alike in every way. Sure a driver or a team can protest and cite a precedent if they choose to do so after the fact, but that doesn’t mean FIA has changed the rulebook because of a certain ruling on a certain incident from the previous season. And yeah, some of the tough job they have in the stewards room is to analyze these things down to the millisecond and the millimetre and try to meet that balance that the teams are on board with…let them race, but at some point an incident has to be penalized.

            6. @robbie

              It still overwhelmingly comes down to taking each incident on it’s own, one at a time as they happen, and rarely are two incidents alike in every way.

              Which is exactly what I dislike. The vast majority of incidents could relatively easily be fit into standardised boxes with set penalties. There will, of course, be the odd one here and there which requires a different outcome, but the specific circumstances can be spelled out by the stewards in their reasoning when they happen, and those few can be evaluated independently to ensure they are being consistent and fair.

              Why do we need a massive debate about every incident? Why do we need complex and subjective parts to the rules about gaining an advantage etc? Why is there a need for the majority of the sporting regulations to be taken as massive grey areas, when every other sport I know of keeps those grey areas to an absolute minimum? Why do we just keep increasing the amount of grey areas to be exploited, leading to (at best) the impression of less and less consistency? As things stand, we may as well throw away most of the sporting regulations and just say “The stewards can give any penalty they like for any behaviour they consider unsporting”. The rules and their current interpretation are wooly enough that this is pretty much how it feels right now…

      2. @faulty

        appear to have a favorite, and appear to not be in control, both of which where shown by MM in 2021.

        I agree with the latter, but not the former. Masi made questionable decisions to the detriment of both drivers.

        1. “to both”? to a lot of them, actually.

          I don’t think he cared one way or another in terms of who benefited from his decisions, but the fact that it came across as favoritism speaks of his unfitness for the job.

          1. @faulty

            It only comes across as favoritism to those who are really biased or extremely forgetful (having even forgotten what happened earlier in the same race).

            1. what?

              so people are guilty of emotions?

              Fans are going to fanatic, that’s why you need unquestionable judgments sitting the competition.

              The worst, worst part of this is that MM had no refereeing tasks, he was supposed to be the person to make sure everything about the weekend went smoothly. Instead he chose to take on the public burden of some stewarding decisions.

              He needs to go, his position needs to disappear.

    10. My personal answer to the headline is both. Masi has proven time and again to be incompetent (I’m not saying I could do any better mind you). Abu Dhabi was the latest in the series of decisions that were at best weird, worse, unfair, or at worst, dangerous. I didn’t like the reasoning for the red flag in Baku, countless inconsistencies with incidents and track limits, and then there are incidents like sending cars out onto a track with a vehicle on it in Qualifying in Turkey last year. That was just shockingly poor.

      But more needs to be done. The rules need to be properly examined, and in some cases rewritten. I am pleased by the words of the new FIA President who also appears to acknowledge this. I just hope he follows through with those words.

      One other thought: we’ve talked a lot recently about the pros and cons of permanent stewards. Should we be trialling having multiple (well-trained) race directors, in the same way football referees officiate different teams each week? Just an interesting discussion point imo.

      1. Agree. I think this is not a case of either/or but of both/and. Masi needs to go and there needs to be a more substantial change in how F1 is officiated. Masi needs to go because he has proven himself to be in over his head. He is inconsistent in his decision making, he has shown he is susceptible to pressure from team principles, he prioritizes Liberty Media’s interests over sporting interests (Spa and Abu Dhabi being the most egregious examples from this season), and he is seemingly incapable of self-reflection on the valid criticisms that have been made of him and the officiating the past few seasons; nearly always suggesting the decisions were perfect and all criticisms are invalid.

        But I also think the stewarding was pretty abysmal this year as well. It was so inconsistent that the FIA didn’t even try to hide the inconsistency and shockingly said that completely different outcomes for similar incidents should be expected due to different stewards. That’s totally unbeliable just on it’s face that the FIA would say that the officiating is essentially a roll of the dice and subject to the whims of the individual stewards. Why even have a rule book at that point?

        I don’t know if permanent stewards are the right answer but clearly there needs to be better training with real-life examples from each race along with how the FIA expects those incidents to be officiated for every steward, every week. And stewards need to be subject to reviews by their peers, team principles, and senior authorities at the FIA. This evaluation system should start at the lower levels and continue all the way through the highest levels. If a steward is found to be consistently getting poor evaluations, they should not be allowed to officiate F1 races.

        The NFL reviews every. single. play. from every. single. game. played every. single. week. and determines if the officials missed a call, made the right call, and issued the appropriate penalty. Tapes of examples from every game are then sent to all the officiating crews for their review on how the NFL says the play should have been officiated. This came as a result of inconsistent officiating in the NFL and they put this practice into place. As a result, now NFL officiating is highly consistent, regardless of the officiating crew working the game. How F1 can’t do that I have no idea.

        1. @g-funk Agree. This season, I’ve not really advocated for or against permanent stewards, I’m personally pretty indifferent on the matter, or rather I think there are better alternatives than a choice between the polar opposites of permanent vs revolving, such as, like you mention, training the stewards better.

        2. Wholeheartedly agree, @g-funk!

    11. Masi did nothing wrong in Abu Dhabi (let them race) except for the fact that it was the last laps of the last race (with the title in the balance).
      He/FIA should have started this ‘let them race’ much earlier; preferably at the start of the race in Bahrain.

      He made a mistake though in Abu Dhabi by asking for a SC rather than a Red Flag as soon as he saw Latifi’s car stuck on the racing line.

      He also made numerous mistakes during the season by not sticking to the rules which state that the white lines define the confines of the track, rather than (yeah rather than what?).

      I hope FIA will execute a major overhaul of the Sporting Regulations, which includes replacing the SC in most instances (except maybe at the start) by the VSC if safe enough, and a Red Flag when not safe enough.
      Remove all the freebies under the Red Flag, unless a car enters its own box (works only to start after racing goes green).
      Make sure that the white lines define the track limits (just repaint them if you want a different track), with preferably automatic repercussions when leaving the track.
      Be more consistent against unsporting behaviour and dangerous driving (both require human judgement though).

      1. @jff I couldn’t really disagree more with your suggestions.

        1. thanks for the elaboration and constructive follow u :P

      2. Yes, what the sporting regulations need are a sweeping removal of as many interpretive formulations as possible. Re-write the rules that today requires human judgement by concluding what each rule is trying to achieve, and make that the actual rule instead. For example, gaining an advantage off the track. What is an advantage, and what defines the track? And what is the penalty and procedures surrounding that? All that requires human judgement every time. Just say, for example, that the white lines define the playing field and going entirely off that with all 4 wheels is not allowed and punished by *insert well-defined punishment here*. All that’s left for the stewards then is to judge whether or not all wheels were off, similar to the referee in football ruling if a player was offside or not. The offside rule itself and it’s penalty are well defined, that’s part of what makes it a popular sport.

        For “freebees” under red, my thinking is, sure, let them change tires but don’t count that as their mandatory pit-stop. If the rule for a mandatory pit-stop is defined as using different compounds of tires during the race, then there are two easy solutions to achieve a no-freebee during red flag. Allow changing to a different set, but only one of the same compound you are currently running. Or, redefine the rules so that instead of demanding running different compounds, demand entering and leaving the pit-box on different compounds during the race.

        Again, it’s all about asking what are we trying to achieve with this rule? Then come up with a good way of doing that.

    12. There are other things that can be done, Indycar in the event that multiple cars cross the safety car line after a pit stop while the pack is led round behind the SC reorder’s the pack while its goes round the track rather than sending cars around the SC. This can be done in F1 and they can manually add laps to peoples transponders to let the race computer get up to date. Alternatively you say, for example, that should an SC be deployed lapped cars may unlap themselves the moment the SC appears. So in the case of Abu Hamilton rocks up behind the SC cars 7,8,9&10 are sent around leaving Max next in line any other car lapped between Max and 3rd place runner is sent around until you have a pre-described number of cars in the correct order ready for when the restart happens. As Abu has 15 turns and the crash was at turn 12 say turn 10-15 must be negociated at SC pace but, assuming the track is clear from turns 1-9 lapped cars can return to the back of the pack at race speed.

      The rules don’t need to be amended to what is above, as long as the rules given are consistant and predictable. It was entirely possible that no lapped cars were between Lewis and Max on restart in Abu because at the time of the SC there were no lapped cars between them when it was thrown. The SC is always luck based and sometimes it works for you and sometimes it doesn’t.

      1. @Ed Even if bringing lapped drivers back on the lead lap was doable, their fuel advantage would remain.

    13. Looking at all of this year and Abu Dhabi even made this appear obvious, it looked like they wanted to keep the championship fight close and some decisions appeared to be towards that, which I absolutely hate. If somehow it is revealed that the championship was scripted to the last race, I’d be absolutely fuming because this is a sport, not a writing work, a literary work, nor a tv show. I’d like to believe that everyone will be even more focused on the stewarding this year, especially if the cars provide more racing action.

      Hamilton was robbed in the last race, but he could have just settled for 2nd place in Baku just like in 2016 where he had a terrible qualifying session. Bottas has also some fault for not playing the team game in Abu Dhabi. Verstappen was lucky in the last race with the decision making because he messed up the start on tyres offering more grip, has to rely on Perez for back up and could not keep up with Hamilton. But this is a clear example of how this is a team sport and not an individual sport. I’d wish everyone moved on because the ending ruined a nice season. If the FIA had the power to manipulate the rules and wanted a better ending, they could have just red flagged Abu Dhabi, even though it was out of red flag conditions, and allowed Hamilton and Verstappen to change tyres for a 1-2 lap showdown. That would have been more acceptable.

      Reliability, crashes, wrong timing of safety cars, VSC or red flags, and failed pit stops are part of the sport, but not a misinterpretation or a bending of the rules when it is clear. I do hope the FIA have and are currently taking the measures to make the rules clearer. We are lucky that Mercedes were affected, and not Red Bull, because if it was the latter, this will definitely end up in the mud for the sport.

      1. @krichelle, I don’t see how things would’ve been any different had RB got affected instead.

        1. They could’ve moved forward to the court for example.

    14. With 5/6 laps left to go, a car stranded on track that was obviously going to take a bit of time to extricate, and especially in the championship deciding race, the ONLY logical thing to do would have been to throw the red flag. Everyone begins again on an even footing, and we have an actual fight to the finish instead of the insanity that we did get. I expect that in the extreme heat of the moment, under enormous pressure, Masi did the best that he was capable of, but he absolutely made a hash of it. Maybe he needs some additional support, or maybe he’s not the right man for the job.

      1. And yet, Masi was criticised for the red flag that was thrown 1 week before. I honestly think he would have been crucified by the army of armchair F1 specialist who are all bringing their own interpretations of rules they generally don’t know and by the team principals, who don’t even have to pretend to be objectives.
        And I wonder if that’s not the reason for Massi for choosing the “show” (as if any sport was doing differently nowadays). He was going to be killed anyway.
        I think the rules should be more precise to avoid as much as possible the race sirector to have to decide (eg if no time for going through the full SC procedure, Red flag by default. A driver need to let a full width next to him as soon as the front wheel of the driver alongside is at the level of the rear wheel,…). Won’t necessary be fairer, and you can design the rule to favour “the show ». But as is is written before the issue happen and it’s not the race director choice, it’s all goooood. Of course the loosing side will always find reason the complain, si no doubt that controversy will still swirl widely…

        1. Being criticised is ok, being inconsistent is not.
          I don’t get why this is such a big deal – as Alonso said, what we need is consistency.
          Masi himself said, at the German Grand Prix in 2020, that when looking to restart with an SC on the track, “There’s a requirement in the sporting regulations to wave all the lapped cars past.”
          And he was right. When the Race Director makes such a statement that is backed by the regulations, teams make their decisions based on that understanding, and this is what Mercedes would have done in Abu Dhabi – only for the Race Director to decice that, for this race, he wasn’t going to follow those same regulations.
          Consistency is where Masi fails, and that’s why he must go.

    15. No he doesn’t need to lose his job, he just needs to be more consistent with the application of the rules. Whether that means he needs to have his own checks to ensure the rules are enforced correctly and consistently or whether the rules themselves need to be tightened up and explained bluntly to avoid misinterpretation or grey areas is another.

      But the idea we’re having an entire article on whether to fire the guy is kinda gross. Discussion on what happened, learning from it sure, but firing him? No.

    16. F1 has been having this controversy for decades, whether it was Baelestre, Bernie, Mosley, Whiting, or Masi “in charge”. The past year has proved to be one of the worst in terms of inconsistencies and problematic rulings since Baelestre was finally given the bump, but it is nothing really new.

      The fact that both of the drivers and both of the teams have all expressed the same type of frustration in similar manners about poor decision nagging shows it isn’t down to one individual being hot tempered or manipulative (possibly instead that they all are).

      A sport is an event defined by its rules : complete task X “the best” within a given set of rules. The rules prevent footballers from grabbing the ball with their hands and running into the goal with it, or tennis players standing next to their opponent with their racket held out, or a racing driver doing laps by doing doughnuts around the start /finish line. Without rules sport doesn’t exist.

      F1, unlike most other elite sports, has failed to uphold even its most basic rules for years now. “the track is defined by two white lines” should be unbelievably easy to enforce with sensor technology, and there should be no reason *not* to enforce it, which is even more relevant. However F1 won’t even do that and the race director is making up rules sometimes from one session to the next in the same race weekend about which limited set of corners he might enforce the rule at, and the rest are fair game.

      F1 has allowed itself to get caught up in “whataboutery” on the possible effects that any given rule might have, to the point where the exceptions and excuses make rules meaningless,and in the few occasions the rules are enforced, there has to be some “balancing” done later on to make up for it.

      In football, a team manager who berates the ref gets sent off and banned. No excuses. F1 should ban any communication from the team to the race director. Track limits, blue flags, blocking, etc are all enforceable using sensor and logging technology. No human analysis required. Issue the penalties realtime. F1 shouldn’t allow itself to be dragged around by what teams think the rules should be according to what benefits that team. A rival team found a loophole and got it approved? Tough, you can just work harder or smarter to close the gap,that’s the game.

      Masi is the latest in a long line of ineffectual /problematic decision makers, but he’s not unique. F1 needs to solve both problems : it’s face director getting pushed around (even if that’s perception rather than provable fact) and it’s own weakness to make the rules inviolable.

      1. Really well said, very accurate. It’s very strange to say the least how F1 (+FIA) enforces it’s rules.

      2. @Hairs_

        F1 should ban any communication from the team to the race director.

        Mostly agree, but not with this. The team should be able to bring things to attention that are relevant, like if they think that there is a safety issues with the tires or if they notice a potential violation.

        However, the outright begging for a specific decision without even a reason being given was quite absurd to hear.

    17. No – why should we change him?!
      However, he needs:
      1 More and better assistance, and
      2. Consistency in the stewarding; and
      3. Torger to stay away (so, more respect).

      1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
        4th January 2022, 19:44

        The guy has the clerk of the course. It is his job to make sure the circuit is safe for racing and if you read the regulations it is him that controls the safety car.

        The race director needs to defer to the clerk of the course and not interfere.

    18. Formula One needs to have a hard look at itself and decide whether it’s a show first, or a sport first. It’s clear to me that the rules were not applied correctly or consistently at the tail end of the season in deference to keeping the “show” exciting. Events were manipulated so that the two brilliant title contenders went into the final race on equal points, then again to ensure a last lap showdown. I honestly don’t think it was “fixed” in the sense that F1/FIA wanted one driver to win more than another, but it was manipulated to breed excitement where the rules specified something different.

      A shame that this off season now has to be full of discussions like this rather than talking about an incredible season duked out by two incredible drivers.

      Formula One needs to be a sport and let Netflix find the show within it… they’re talented people, they don’t need spoon feeding the drama! I don’t think Michael Masi is necessarily the problem, but he is the “shop front” and changing him might signify a realisation that they’ve taken it too far.

    19. This so subjective. If it was an exactly opposite outcome following Masi’s decision to act according the general agreement, not to end the season under a safetycar situation, no Hamilton fans would have been heard, ever. Advise: 2022 is a new season.

      1. @pietkoster, please don’t paint everyone with the brush you were apparently painted with. I for one determine right from wrong without considering how it may or may not have affected the person, team or group I support.

        1. That’s my view too. I strongly believe I would be just as appalled by Masi’s “application of the rules” both throughout the season and especially in the final race had it gone the other way. I’d be celebrating Hamilton’s win while simultaneously calling for acknowledgement of the screw up and for a massive change to prevent such issues in future.

          1. Most people in the world cheered for the Victor and called for clearer rules.
            The difference been they are over it and hope for consistent stewarding next year.

      2. You’re probably right, but it would be the Verstappen fans being outraged. My heart was with Verstappen to win before the race, but I still don’t like the way he won at all, and it’s no fault of his.

    20. Masi just handed the title to Verstappen, against the rules, against previous handling and against his own argumentation of previous handling. No matter whether this was done by mistake or for some other reason, I dont see any solution how he could be trusted if he keeps his position.

    21. I doubt Liberty is complaining at all about the race outcome. Ending such a close campaign under safety car would have been a disastrous let-down, and all the subsequent controversy is, among other things, just marketing, so I doubt Masi is going anywhere.

      It’s also unclear that there is a problem that requires a solution. This decision is getting scrutiny, but that’s just because it was the final decision. If there were to be a series of seasons that ended tied going into the last race with iffy decisions deciding the outcome, we’d all be complaining, and we’d all be watching.

      1. Ending such a close campaign under safety car would have been a disastrous let-down

        I really don’t understand this view. How would it have been a let down when Lewis was cruising away at the front with a more than 10 seconds gap that was clearly not reducing anywhere close enough to make the last laps a nail-biter of any kind? I’ve seen it repeated over and over again and it doesn’t make much sense to me. If it was a race where there was a possibility of Max closing down the gap – like in France earlier in the year – then it would hold. I don’t think anyone that was actually watching the race would say anything like that would have happened.

      2. @leejo

        Ending such a close campaign under safety car would have been a disastrous let-down

        Why? I don’t recall mass protests in 2012…

    22. In my opinion, the problem is not necessarily Masi, the problem are his masters. If an employee does things that goes against company rules and ethics, he will be dismissed. All you hear is praise and excuses from his masters which brings me to the conclusion that he was doing as he was told.
      We only were allowed to hear the voices of Horner and Wolff etc talking to Masi but we are not able to hear the conversations he is having with his employers and any opinion or instruction he is given.

      In conclusion, Masi is not the issue, the FIA has fallen to its lowest standard in regulating the ontrack activities.
      The FIA is the mess let us hope now that Todt is gone the new guy can attempt a more open and consistent policing.

    23. Bigger changes are needed although Masi is part of the problem and should be replaced, by more than one person/role if need be. I don’t see a world where everyone stays and the product improves beyond it’s current ‘joke’ status. I have zero confidence in the FIA doing what should be done.

      Not to say that it’s all Masi or the current people at the FIA’s fault, to me it’s always been a mess. A hodgepodge of trying to do the right thing, invariably failing and waving the “we tried our best” flag over the mess to prevent any meaningful change coming.

      They’ll keep it in house, make minor procedural changes and let the excitement of the new season wash it away.

      1. I don’t see a world where everyone stays and the product improves beyond it’s current ‘joke’ status. I have zero confidence in the FIA doing what should be done.

        Ditto. Everything I’ve seen so far indicates to me that this will be whitewashed, but no real change will take place. Given that an F1 in which these decisions are deemed acceptable is no longer a sport in my eyes, I am ready to walk away after 30+ years unless I see such change starting. But then again, I also wouldn’t watch a TV reality show, but they make a lot of money, so maybe it won’t matter to the FIA/Liberty if they do lose fans from this as long as the gains they make in new entertainment viewers compensates for it.

    24. Ultimately it doesn’t matter. We’re all no bodies and no one in the world of F1 cares what we think. F1 is just an entertainment series, not a sport. They’ve got their script and will stick to it. If you want to watch actual sport then run along and watch cricket or tennis and see how boring sport is. I don’t always like the outcome, but just like Game of Thrones, the writers always find a way to keep F1 interesting. I’m looking forward to the next series. I just wish sky would correct their mistake so it’s included on the standard entertainment package.

      1. but just like Game of Thrones, the writers always find a way to keep F1 interesting.

        Big raised eyebrows on that one. Interesting seasons are few and far between…

    25. I will not be watching until he is fired. Absolute joke of a championship.

    26. Masi has been race director for 3 seasons. Comparing his decision making to the latter part of Whiting’s career, when Charlie had over 20 seasons under his belt, is nonsensical. Of course, you’re going to make mistakes. Whiting made a few himself in the earlier stages of his career.

    27. The Race Director has made too many mistakes and the mess at the last race was unforgivable. So a new RD and clearer and definitive rules consistently enforced are necessary, with a third leg of the new stool being a public opportunity to hold the stewards to account after every race in an open session with the media.

    28. I may be just a British LH fan but for me it’s quite simple that the rules should be clearer for this eventuality. Other series have done this quite easily. It’s not unreasonable to suggest a change to make it better. It was a call without precedent, sometimes they go your way sometimes they don’t. The application and the following explanation of the decision have made the rules less clear. To move F1 forward they need to clarify what happens should this come up again. I don’t think it’s sour grapes to want the sport to get better. The championship is over let’s move on to next year.

    29. Coventry Climax
      4th January 2022, 20:02

      @keithcollantine: Your words: In the days after the race his name was searched for online more often than 18 of the 20 drivers – all bar the two title contenders. For those running the show, that’s a clear signpost of how many people were unimpressed with how last year’s season finale was handled.

      Wow, that’s a quick conclusion! I don’t know if you’re right or wrong, without additional data, but either way, that’s not a conclusion you drew, it’s conjecture.

      Anyway, about Masi: suppose Latifi hadn’t crashed so badly, and there hadn’t been this restart thing. Racing to the end always brings the chance of Hamilton -or Verstappen- getting engine problems, or a puncture.
      Deciding to end under yellow might have deprived us of that excitement, and/or clear end to the title-fight.

      So basically, you could say it isn’t Masi’s fault, but the fault of the rules, the amount of room he has to interpret them, the lack of foresight in the rules to such kind of situations.
      Personally, I would not be sorry to see him go. But what/who do we get then?
      I think we can safely agree on the necessity for the FIA to come up with more waterproof worded rules. Not more rules, but more waterproof worded. They’ve been abominable about this for so long already. Proof is the seemingly ever increasing stream of ‘clarifications’.

    30. When all is said and done F1 isn’t a sport. its an entertainment series involving race cars, no more or no less, just a means to put eyeballs on adverts and clicks on websites…

      1. A lot of people do not get this.
        F1 isn’t about the racing. There are far better racing series out there. Real wheel to wheel stuff.

        F1 is a show, and that is why I follow it.
        The intrigue – “They have a flexi wing!”
        The mind games – “These tyres will not make it man!”
        The over inflated Egos – – – Ermm – Alonso ;P
        This is all entertainment.
        I detest Liberty Media’s profiteering attitude but then again F1 is just game these days.

        I respect the drivers.
        I pretty much sneer at the rest.

        1. +1 on that

          Iam looking forward to all the other series of racing I’ve left in second choice, I laugh now thinking about how I rearranged 3 days for F1, watching that crock on a Friday evening as a quali/race/sprint bull, I feel like a mark after they have been played by con-artist, fool me once F1, shame on you, fool me twice…..

      2. I fall in to this mindset at times, thinking it’s all arbitrary. But at the end of the day a lot of people dedicate a lot of time and money (which indicates value) to compete. If it’s a valuable and entertaining, what’s to say it isn’t worth paying attention to. It’s very rare to get such insight into how great minds operate, how business is done, as you do with F1.

        I got into F1 conciously knowing that it was the pinnacle of motorsport, it’s where the most time and money is, the biggest investments, the best of the best personnel, etc… It’s still that, even if it’s corrupt, or surprisingly amateurish, it highlights so much of what’s good, and bad about humanity. It’s the great unwritable soap opera.

        If it was just about clicks on websites, there are more profitable topics to build websites about that get the clicks a lot easier. The clicks are the byproduct of F1, not the goal.

    31. Both. The numerous seemingly contradictory rulings this recently clearly point to one or more issues that need a review to assess. It is difficult to assess this externally but it would seem both that the rulebook needs revision and the process and/or people interpreting the rules also need change.
      As regards the Race Director. Michael Masi comes across as a perfectly nice person, knowledgable and intelligent. However he demonstrates that he does not have the critical ability of working well under intense pressure. A lot of like to think we have the “Right Stuff” but few of us do – jet pilots and astronauts for example. This is a necessary ability for this role.
      That said, as Toto Wolff highlighted he and others need to not be allowed to put some of that pressure on. The F1 hierarchy should also consider their role in applying pressure re “the show” too.

    32. The problem isn’t Masi. The problem is that the Race Director is able to ignore rules at any time as he sees fit. Even if he never does it again, the fact that he CAN but chooses not to is also a problem.

      If Masi is allowed to ignore the rules in order to “keep it exciting” or “finish the race under a green flag”, then there’s nothing stopping him, deciding the race winner is the driver who was most entertaining, instead of the one crossing the line first.

      If F1 still wants to be considered a sport, the entire system needs fixing, not just firing the scapegoat (admittedly, a scapegoat who screwed up).

      1. I would argue that the problem is that there are so many rules that require human judgement. That is what need fixing. Imagine if in football the referee had to judge not only if, but how much a player was offside every time it happened. And how big of a punishment that would require, every time. The solution is to just have the referee judge offside or not, and have the rule itself sort out everything else. The Race Director and the Stewards are currently required by the rulebook for too many decisive judgements. Of course that is going to overload them, and cause irritation by both competitors and audiences every time they make a questionable call.

        1. Robert – I disagree. There was nothing that required human judgement in that safety car mess – the rules were pretty explicit and clear. There was no “decision” to be made – just follow the procedure as it was laid down. That the Race Director is allowed to override this because of some ill defined “agreement” is the root of the problem.

          1. @fluxsource

            That the Race Director is allowed to override this because of some ill defined “agreement” is the root of the problem.

            Agreed. However, I also agree with Robert that there are too many (other) rules which require human judgement at every incident. A collision could gain no or any penalty on the books for either driver, with no structure and few well-defined precedents to guide which should apply where (due to general lack of consistency in the past). This is a recipe for confusion and calls of unfairness from all sides.

          2. Coventry Climax
            5th January 2022, 13:29

            Which is exactly what Robert was saying: Too many ill defined rules -and roles- in the book.
            And exactly what I said earlier, in different wording: The FIA needs to really get on top of getting the rulebook worded waterproof.
            Not that that will make me like Masi more, but it’ll give him and his club less room ‘to use a screwdriver upwards’, to avoid the more common and shorter version – and the filter on this site.

            1. Coventry Climax – except in this case, the rule was clearly defined. It was not ambiguous. The rule was merely broken.

              Yes, I’d support an overhaul of the rules – it’s long overdue. But any overhaul is pointless while those rules can be ignored on a whim.

    33. I am not happy with Mr Massi’s performance this last season.
      That said, I sucked at my apprenticeship for the first two years so who am I to judge?

      Unless we get Charlie back I submit that we go with what we have got for now.

      1. Coventry Climax
        5th January 2022, 13:34

        Maybe you still suck at your job, but have a management that isn’t very good at making the right decisions quickly? Or they have an overly large, highly interpretable management rule book?
        Oh, I get it, you work for the FIA! And, after two years, they submitted the exact same thing too!

    34. The race director, like Caesar’s wife, must be completely above any suspicion of partiality. Masi is too tainted.

    35. Masi should be sacked. He can’t do the job. He decided the F1 world championship and that is not his job. The integrity of the sport will never recover while he is Race Director.

      1. Coventry Climax
        5th January 2022, 13:46

        That is not true. Yes, his decisions are debateable, to say the least. But if Latifi hadn’t crashed, Hamilton might have gotten engine troubles or a puncture or whatever. (And Verstappen too, for that matter.)
        If Mercedes had pitted at their first chance as well, Hamilton would have had a decent chance to overtaken Verstappen again. If on a different strategy, Hamilton might not even have lost P1, and could have ended up with better tyres to defend from Verstappen.
        The point is, that there’s too many ‘if’s’, and therefor no way to be 100% certain of how things would have played out.
        Masi did not decide the championship, but he did decide to spice up the final part, as was apparently agreed upon earlier in the season, to not end a race under yellow. Well, that spiced it up quite succesfully, I must say, which makes Liberty the sole winner, in the end.

        1. Masi did not decide the championship, but he did decide to spice up the final part, as was apparently agreed upon earlier in the season, to not end a race under yellow.

          I agree that there were all sorts of possibilities, however remote, but he definitely altered the odds radically in favour of Verstappen in the call he made compared to all written procedures in the rules. While this may not be “deciding the championship”, it is as near as makes no difference.

          Had Masi followed normal procedure, the race would have ended under the safety car. That would have been as near as certain victory as makes no difference for Hamilton, though they did agree not to finish under SC if at all possible, so that was unlikely to happen unless there was no other choice. I think it is relatively safe to ignore this as a possibility at the point the call was made.

          Had the SC ended without allowing lapped cars through, which was the other procedure laid out in the rulebook, I think the odds would have been fairly even between the two leader. Hamilton would have been able to put a little distance between them, but Verstappen would have been past the back markers and catching him very quickly. I think it likely that the battle would have come down to the last few corners, which would have been both fair (following established procedures and precedents) and an incredibly exciting way to end the season. This was what was planned before Masi made his last-minute, unprecedented call.

          Instead, with Masi’s improvised, never-before-seen procedure, the odds were immediately and overwhelmingly in favour of Max. There was little to no chance that Lewis could defend against new softs on dead hards, and we saw that he was easily passed. So, between the 2 options he had available to him at the point he made the call, he chose the brand new, unseen, improvised one which would almost certainly give the win to Max as opposed to the established, written one which would give each a reasonable chance. That may not technically be “handing the championship to Max”, but it is so close to it that it makes no real difference.

    36. This constant bit about British fans and living in the UK is nonsense. I am an American, living in America, those of us non Brits who are fans of the sport are also appalled at the inconsistent interpretation of the rules. F1 is one of the few sports where you can see a group of friend’s sitting together at a race, visibly and verbally supporting different drivers. In my circle, we all want the same thing, fairness.
      The consistent interpretation of the rules, helps the sport, teams and ultimately the drivers.
      No driver with a conscience and pride in his craft should want, or be proud of a race and ultimate season finale that ends like this.

      1. A very sensible comment. The decision is seen as controversial as many people throughout the F1 fan base deem it to have been unfair. End of story.

        1. Coventry Climax
          5th January 2022, 13:58

          Not quite. I’m not British either. Nor Dutch. I absolutely agree with most that is said by MPH.
          But…
          There’s no way to determine which questionable decision, over the season, decided the championship, but we can say it was questionable decisions – plural- that decided it.
          It is the again and again, that has to stop.

          1. That is why we need consistent interpretation and enforcement of the rules

          2. I agree that there were many questionable decisions through the course of the year, but only one occured at the last minute which sealed it. The very fact that it was such an unprecedented call in the closing laps of the championship-deciding final race, which changed the odds so radically in favour of one driver, makes all the difference to the appearance of that decision. You can speak of others all you wish, but only one looks like it decided the championship. Others affected the results of individual races, which have an effect on the championship later in the year, but one decision change the result of the championship in a very real, immediately-visible and irreversible manner.

            I would also say that only one was completely unprecedented. We have seen all the other decisions, in one form or another, several times in the past. AFAIK, though, we have never seen the race director invent a brand new procedure on the fly when there are multiple valid options written in the rulebook, and for that to be one which hands a massive advantage to one driver over and above all the others on the grid is insane.

    37. There are many things at play here.

      Would different race director done differently?

      What insfructions were given to Masi?

      It seems to me far to often he was under orders from Liberty media to augment the show.

      Decission bias was thorwards that all season.

      Let them race, let them crash, let them gain lasting advantage off track if it suits the viewing figures.

      In that view he succeeded in the task givrn by his superiors. Would different race director done differently? Possibly in the final decission, but overall probably the the overall bias would be maintained.

      The entire director, steward system could use a rewamp, and new ways if conducting a race are more important than new people doing the work.

      Stewards rotate, but we seem to always have the same problems.

      1. Coventry Climax
        5th January 2022, 14:01

        That I agree with.
        But you should check your keyboard? ;-)

    38. Just imagine if Abu Dhabi was in the first half of the season and Hungary when a Merc took both red Bulls in the first corner where the last race ? What would Toto wolf would be saying ??

      1. “Ja Mikey, ja ja Mikey. That was so right!”

    39. Of all the options available to Masi, he picked the one that not only broke convention and favored Max over Lewis. It was the only decision that Masi could have picked and executed to bend the championship so drastically towards Max. For that it is very hard to not view this as a deliberate action. For this alone, Masi should be demoted in some way. When we coupled this action with many poor decision of the season, again he should go.

      Changing Masi alone does not necessarily eliminate such unjust actions from happening again. For he may have be told to do this. However, it is too blatant an action to not address.

      I find myself scanning the headlines of social media hoping to find some kind of relief to Abu Dhabi. So, even though the injustice would not be undone, some kind of relief is warranted.

      Mind you, it is the injustice that is beating me up. It is not that Hamilton lost, it is the fact that an organization dares to do such a bold move in spite of the audience. Ppl are saying that only UK fans or TeamLH fans care, but I think it is only Max fans that don’t care. There is no denying the wrong done on 12.12.21.

      1. Then the wrong done in silverstone? You can complain about abu dhabi, but you can’t ignore the rest of the unfairness of this year, this only slightly equalizes the luck, not even completely.

      2. Coventry Climax
        5th January 2022, 14:05

        It is simply untrue that those you choose to qualify as ‘Max fans’ do not care. This is Trump-speak, and I don’t like it.

        1. I didn’t mean “all” Max’s fans do not care. ;-)

    40. What a bunch of hypocrites. Of course when the race director’s or the FIA decisions affect the other competitors, nobody raised their voice in the british media and among the Hamilton fanbase. Throughout the year there were numerous decisions where clear preference was shown toward LH and the team, (Ferrari could tell a long story about it), there are so many occassions from this year alone, that itself would question the integrity of the sport. Mid year ban on fast pitstops ? Nonexistent penalties for Hamilton ? Crucially timed safety cars ? Letting away hamilton with the Abu Dhabi L1 corner cuting Merc falling foul of their own flexi wing accusations ? Suddenly 1sec faster Mercs ? Penalising Verstappen for the Jeddah accused brake test? And the list goes on…
      Of course that the echo chamber back home goes on full throttle, history tells that we cant rely expect anything else from brits, sucking up the brainwashing was gone against schumacher, alonso or anybody else lining up against the actual british favourite, now the same machine repeats the superiority of hamilton, when he clearly showed that if there is anybody in at least nearly as fast machinery he cant win the championship on merit, he needs to have outside help.
      His season is a laughing stock outside of this echo chamber, losing in a superior car by not even able to turn left 2 times at last, and not even able to race or defend wheel to wheel in equal machinery. Too many drivers made him fool this year to be in even the top 3 for the 2021 ratings.
      I’m glad that the last 8 years of manufactured statpadding got broken again.

      1. This is the saddest take. There are plenty of non-english media and personalities highlighting how poor the decisions were. Take yourself out of the blinkered supporter bias and look at it rationally.

        1. The same british people who cheered at silverstone after the crash? Interesting.

          1. Huh? Your words say more than you know…

          2. I was there at Silverstone. The crowd initially cheered when Hamilton got past Verstappen, but there was nearly dead silence immediately when it was clear how. Nobody cheered for the crash that I could see or hear, and everybody I could see was worriedly waiting to find out whether Max was OK.

            1. *when it was clear how serious the impact was going to be

      2. Exactly, hypocrithes, good word, sums it up perfectly!

      3. Minus h, always had issues with that word and I’m italian.

    41. Charlie had Herbie Blash as his right hand man.
      Masi currently has none. They should hire a deputy to work beside him as his right hand man so that
      decisions like these could be thoughtfully considered by 2 people instead of a unilateral arbitrary call.

      1. What happened to him?
        (@cplchanb)

        1. He retired, I think.

    42. Martin Bradley MORRIS
      5th January 2022, 2:04

      Bottom line is that Hamilton left the door wide open for Verstappen at turn 5. He did not try to defend. The argument that had worn hard tyres does not hold water. He didn’t try!!!! Alonso defended against Hamilton for about ten laps and Hamilton complained. Tsunoda held him up for a number of laps and he complained. Perez held him up for a number of laps and he complained. Fact is they held him up in slower cars. They tried and succeded for a number of laps. Hamilton did not attempt to do so for a couple of corners. He was not a sitting duck, he chose not to make it hard for Verstappen. A lot of this is a smoke screen by Mercedes and Hamilton fans covering up the fact that Hamilton lost the title. It was not taken from him.

      1. That was the funniest armchair expert comment I’ve seen in a while. 43-lap-old hard tyres compared to fresh softs, how do you think it’s possible to defend at all?

        1. He certainly could’ve tried some desperate move to cut verstappen off, you can see he left the door open, hungary is harder to overtake on ofc but in that case alonso held hamilton off for several laps and it was hamilton who had newer tyres, other than having a rocket car that race.

          1. So you wanted to see a desperate blocking attempt that would have led to a collision? I can’t even imagine the controversy that would have caused from the Verstappen fans.

            1. Of course if Lewis did a Silverstone again.
              But his defending was very bad. It was obvious max already was in his head and he was intimidated by the situation.
              He lost on track and that’s a fact.

        2. @skipgamer

          Lewis could have taken a more shallow line into the corner. Of course, it would have meant a slower corner and Max could have profited by taking a faster line and then passing Lewis later on.

      2. Hamilton did the only thing he could do, which was try to get as much of a run as possible into the straight to maximise his speed advantage as thanks to the huge advantage in tires Vestappen was given (which meant he could easily out brake, out corner and out accelerate Hamilton, especially as those soft tyres would have had more temperature in them then old hards) defending normally would not have been an option.
        Vestappen, being Vestappen, dive bombed Hamilton from a huge distance back and block passed him (again), something he didn’t even need to do as he could have easily slip streamed past him.

    43. The only thing F1 needs is for the show stuff to be Liberty’s bag, and the sport to sit with the FIA.

      Doesn’t matter who the race director is if they unblur the lines and each side sticks to what it does best.

    44. Should perhaps Masi be made race director for life would be a far more relevant question in my opinion. Clarify the rules for those that do not understand them perhaps? It appears there are those that consider it a foregone conclusion that Masi made a mistake or broke the rules; this is not a given by a long shot and is not universally accepted to be true. Far from it. Good old narrative. In regards to rules changes; improvements could be made. The prevention of races ending under safety car would be a major improvement I feel. I can understand Lewis feeling hard done by but I hope he does recognise that Verstappen felt quite (smashed into the barrier hard) hard done by at Silverstone to say the least. There are those of us that feel Verstappen deserved the title but that does not mean that we wish Hamilton ill or do not want him to succeed in future.

      1. Yes, hamilton, mercedes and their fans are all about “me me me”, I never heard any important mercedes figure admitting they were lucky with some circumstances earlier in the season, just complain when THEY get wronged.

        1. @esploratore1
          And Verstappen and Horner did the same. They complained when decisions went against them and called it a good call, not lucky, when it went their way. That’s what teams do with these decisions: If they go their way, they are right, whereas if they go against them, they are wrong/unlucky/inconsistent.

    45. Everything else being equal, do you think the last 5 laps would have been handled in the same exact manner by the race control if the cars were reversed? (LH on fresh softs and MV with track position) I’d love to see the results of that poll.

      And that should tell you if the FIA have a “misunderstanding and… ….an argument that is currently tarnishing the image of the championship” & any other sporting event the FIA governs…

      1. Coventry Climax
        5th January 2022, 14:33

        That would be a wonderful poll – if the objective is to whip up the controversy again and get people to choose camps.
        Otherwise, it would be pointless, and I can predict the outcome for you.
        Polls generally have a question that you can just answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to, but there’s always the third option, ‘don’t know’.
        So, my prediction: about 20% of overheated hardcore LH fans against about 20% of overheated hardcore MV fans and the remaining 60% goes to ‘don’t know’, as it usually does.

        But that’s just a prediction. You on the other hand, already seem to draw your conclusions, even before the actual outcome?
        You should question your own intent, maybe? Hold it against that same benchmark, maybe?

      2. @DY Most likely, yes, since Masi was determined to avoid an SC finish.

    46. Does F1 need a new race director – or deeper change – after Abu Dhabi restart row?

      Both!
      Masi’s working relationship with Mercedes and Wolff is in tatters and I would say pretty low with the rest of the field as well. Having Horner and Marko come out in support is probably a negative :)).
      Liberty’s WWE approach to the way F1 is presented has increased eyes on the sport for the short term, the problem being each year they have to up the anti, more thrills more spills until they jump the shark. I’m sure DTS will get record ratings this year, and with the new cars and big wheels, this season could also be as popular.
      But lets see in a couple of seasons time, sustained popularity is not so easy when you are lacking substance.

    47. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      5th January 2022, 3:47

      Is Masi still there?

      If anyone doesn’t believe something’s wrong with F1, Masi’s continuation in his role as race director is living proof of that.

      Oh, I nearly forgot to sign this properly #MaxIsADeservingChampion! #SoSaysHorner #SoSaysMarko #SoSaysTodt #SoSaysMasi

      1. And wolff said that as well 1 day after the title, so there goes your theory!

        1. U obviously mistake the statement. Everybody knows the sports got betrayed and the rules were broken.

          1. Yeah, when the track parameters where changed mid race during the season opener it was clear the sport got betrayed and the rules where broken.

            Yeah, when Lewis wasn’t penalized for ignoring double yellows the sports got betrayed and the rules were broken.

            Yeah, when Lewis was not told to give the position back after Max his gorgeous overtake in AD the sports got betrayed and the rules were broken.

            Yeah, when without proper reason the red flag was brought out in Silverstone allowing Lewis to repair his car which he damaged when he send Max to the hospital the sports got betrayed and the rules were broken.

            Yeah, when Lewis only got a 10 second penalty after sending Max to the hospital the sports got betrayed and the rules were broken.

            Yeah, when Lewis wasn’t reprimanded for blocking Mazepin the sports got betrayed and the rules were broken.

    48. In essence I think the rules themselves and the protocol on how rules may be interpreted by the Race Director needs to be clarified and become much clearer now, in order for Masi to stay in place. If this is not done then I don’t see how Mercedes and possibly some other teams, are ever going to have any confidence in his decision making.

      Unless this happens, as soon as a controversial decision is made in any future race, and it negatively impacts on any team other than RBR, the whole argument over Abu Dhabi is going to reignite.

      I personally think Masi’s suitability for the role is now very questionable but I doubt the FIA will replace him as it would be an admission an error being made.

    49. A stern warning letter to those who take rules into own hands should be issues.
      Nobody can change the rules unless during a meeting of members at end of each season.
      Those who flout the rules will be terminated immediately…

    50. I have said it once, and I will say it again. Yes the race director made a mistake when he didnt let the lapped cars unlap themselves at the start of the penultimate lap (when the track was clear) and then tried to rectify it a bit too late…….. BUT……

      and this is a huge BUT…..

      There was still 1 lap of racing at the end, and Lewis was leading the start of that lap…… and if he had defended like Perez had done earlier in the race…… he would be an 8 time champion. But he didnt…… he left the door wide open at the hairpin because by that point he was mentally defeated because his team had not changed his tyres, and Lewis knew it. He didnt have the mental fortitude by that point to defend like Perez had done earlier. (Perez was on older tyres than Lewis was at the end of the race) Yes, the race director made a mistake, but if he hadnt, we would have ended up in the same situation as we did with 1 lap left.

      Its time to move on, its time to start getting excited about 2022 and the new cars!!!

      1. Perez tactics only work if one driver is trying to avoid being taken out. Had Hamilton defended like Perez did then Verstappen would have piled into the side of him and took both cars out and then been champion on countback as they were level on points. For the record the defending by Perez was way over the mark in places and should have been black and white flagged for dangerous driving but lets not let things like fairness get in the way of the show hey.

        1. @slowmo

          It is pure speculation that Max would have hit him. The only time that Max ran into the side of Lewis this season was when Lewis didn’t leave the space. Perez and Lewis left each other space when they fought.

          And Perez’ defending was great.

          1. No, its’s not pure speculation that had Lewis turned into the apex at several instances this year there would have been an accident, that’s just a fact that Verstappen tried to run Hamilton off the road numerous times. Perez was weaving, moving in the braking zone and crowding Hamilton off the track. None of that is considered “great” by any standards. I sincerely hope Red Bull get some of their “fair racing” handed back this year by all the other teams on the grid.

            1. That’s the problem with hamfans. They are so used for a driver taking off in the distance they do not recognise, great racing anymore.
              Every fight on track makes them feel uncomfortable so it must be illegal.
              Poor fans.. :)

              BTW, perez showed how to defend with completely worn tires. Ham was so intimidated by the charging verstappen he forget to defend.

            2. I’m not a “hamfan”, I support Norris and McLaren. Strange assumption that anyone who disagrees with the unsporting behaviour of Masi and the poor driving standards of Verstapen could only be a “hamfan”. Kind of says more about you than anyone else.

            3. @slowmo
              Still in denial I see :)

        2. +1

          Its senseless to discuss with blinded VER fans here. Its only a handful, but they leave their weird comments like everywhere.

      2. If Masi hadnt broken the rules then there would have been either one lap of racing with lapped cars in between, or no lap of green racing. There was no legal option to have a green lap without the lapped cars, as unlapping was not possible before the start of the penultimate lap (as it must not start before all marshalls confirmed being on their posts and ready).

        So Merc decided correct, but got betrayed by the RD braking the rules. Therefore the title got robbed, and gifted to VER in an illegit way.

      3. Its time to move on, its time to start getting excited about 2022 and the new cars!!!

        I find it very hard to get excited about a supposed “sport” which has just confirmed that one of its officials is allowed to completely change the rules about safety cars and starts on a whim and without scrutiny or repercussion. I will start to get excited about it again if and when we get confirmation that this is not going to be allowed going forward, but otherwise it becomes just another made-for-TV gameshow which I’m not interested in.

    51. Masi is doing just fine. A person in his position is never going to be perfect. But, the prevailing attitude in F1 that “let them race” supercedes the rules has always been a bad idea, and him going along with that has been a disappointment.

      That goes from allowing teams to run illegal parts so long as they fix it for later races, to drivers barging each other off and even being happy about it, and from allowing drivers to ignore track limits to the FIA accepting their disregard for flag protocols and marshal safety, which in turn necessitates the overuse of the safety car, or even red flags.

      So long as the FIA is content to run F1’s own variety of sports entertainment, it doesn’t really matter who the race director is. Example: Norris barging Perez off twice in one lap somehow made it into the official “F1 Top Battles” of the season.

    52. Masi needs to be sacked and not just for the debacles he caused throughout the last 4 races. Anyone defending his performance his simply mad. We need to move on rom last year and moving Masi aside would be a good step to do so.

    53. He was in a very difficult position and had to make a decision in a few seconds to resume racing, giving the fans a one lap showdown worthy of the season. Imagine the flop if it has ended under safety car.

      Besides, Merc and ham screwed themselves by not pitting and ham himself for driving very poorly on that last lap in a superior car, regardless of tyre condition.

      All in all Max was the worthy champ. Using terms like stolen and gifted only shows up that person’s lack of critical thinking – something sorely lacking in the large majority of people these days.

      1. He was gifted the championship with the dodgiest of decisions, there will always be an asterisk next to his championship in the eyes of most fans. Doesn’t matter how much you try and justify the decisions taken, the damage is done.

        Mercedes could do nothing because if they pitted it would have given Verstappen track position on similar tyres and the safety car would likely not have been ended earlier for Hamilton anyway. Also had Hamilton tried to overtake Verstappen in his “superior” car then Verstappen would have took him out as he tried 5 or 6 times in the last 4 races but failed as Hamilton kept swerving to avoid him.

        Max maybe a driver worthy of winning a championship but not last years championship that was gifted to him by one man breaking the long established rules and then hiding behind an appeal system that is corrupt and not independent. Fans like yourself will kill what little sport is left in F1.

        1. there will always be an asterisk next to his championship

          Agree.
          The asterix :
          The moment the new kid crushed the 7 times world championship on the peak of his abilitys in great fashion on track.

          1. You still worshipping the cheapest WDC ever

            1. You mean the 5 championships without competition in the fastest car as first driver with only a slave wingman..
              That seems a bit harsh…

            2. Haven’t you got a bridge to be sitting under?

            3. You’re talking about a slave wingman after Perez was taken out of the points, repeatedly left on poor tyres and more not to mention the additional 2 wingmen from AT? Absolutely the worst and least humble type of ‘fan’ erikje.

              Gifted, cheap championship nomatter how much time you spend furiously tapping away on here.

            4. No doubt Max is one of the best, but let’s see him with a WDC in the other car before I go hyperbole.
              Sainz ran him pretty close at Torro Rosso before being dropped for the Golden Child and thats according to Helmut Marko
              Even Ricciardo wasn’t too shabby and he’s been blown away by Lando.
              History shows Lewis went up against one of the greatest drivers ever in Fernando and then another reigning WDC in Jenson.
              So come on Redbull stick someone decent in the other car.

            5. Rb15,
              Maybe if you talk to a mirror you will see a fan.
              Not sure why some die hard hamfans keep on repeating this fairytale. You probably still believe in santa :)

            6. Its not some HAM fans, but most of the not VER fans. Maybe your blinded orange eyes will get better sometime in the future.

    54. Neither. It only needs Team Principals who set a better example for live global audiences by being respectful of the FIA.

      1. Respect must be earned, and can be lost. This season, Masi and the FIA have lost my respect and that of many other long standing fans. There has always been some inconsistency, but their misapplication of the rules this season has been insane.

        Yes, the TPs need to pipe down, but I doubt that it is much different now to previous seasons in that regard. We heard it for the first time, and there was likely an element of playing to the audience, but they have always been in contact with the race director. If they are being disrespectful (and they were, both CH and TW, on many occasions), it’s the race director’s job to keep them in line, so this is actually an other example of Masi’s failure.

    55. If Masi’s final lap screwup was his first in the role after a great few years, it would have been forgivable. As it is, it is the worst and most agregious in a line of bad screwups, some even safety related.

    56. I could write a ‘War and Peace’ summary of this debacle. But essentially what happened to Lewis was disgusting, he and Mercedes were clearly cheated. Either way whether you believe that or not this whole calamitous 2021 WDC Abu Dhabi showdown has left a bitter taste in everyones mouth.
      How in God’s name can we and all of F1 trust this inconsitent baffoon to manage an F1 race in the future. They have to follow the rules correctly so everyone knows there is fairness applied when we go racing. He must pay for what he did to Lewis and be removed with immediate effect!

    57. How can real honest fans have any confidence in Masi? he didn’t just manipulate one race, but two ! Belgium was beyond a joke, there are serious questions to be asked about his honesty and integrity. For me, he must go.

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