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. NeverElectric
              4th January 2022, 20:12

              “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. Noframingplease (@)
            4th January 2022, 17:34

            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.

            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. petebaldwin (@)
          4th January 2022, 15:51

          @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.