Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi, 2021

The problems of perception the FIA must address after the Abu Dhabi row


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Consider an alternate scenario: All aspects of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to the point of the final lap, including conflicting lapped/unlapped cars messages, are identical save that (notional leader) Max Verstappen’s Red Bull team have not – unlike Mercedes with (second-placed) Lewis Hamilton – (twice) availed themselves of ‘free’ tyre changes under a safety car.

Thus, Verstappen embarks on the final lap of the season in the lead but on worn tyres while his opponent has the freshest of rubber. The safety car has pulled in and they face a final one-lap shootout. Verstappen is a sitting duck and is immediately overhauled by his rival – with whom he level-pegs on points – who clinches a record-setting eight drivers’ title.

Would the global outcry have been as concerted as transpired in the highly emotional aftermath of the most closely fought season in almost 40 years? Would Red Bull boss Christian Horner have led cheers that the right driver had won? Would Mercedes boss Toto Wolff have spoken out so vociferously about “personal integrity” and his wife Susie tweeted her hopes that by next year March the FIA has “sporting integrity”?

Would Hamilton have appeared at the FIA gala in Paris on Thursday evening and Verstappen and Horner boycotted the event? Indeed, would Wolff still refuse to talk to race director Michael Masi?

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There are no hard and fast answers to such theoretical questions, but my perceptions of just such an alternate situation is that Horner and Verstappen would have protested to all and sundry that they had been robbed and demanded redress, while Wolff and Hamilton would have accepted the silverware while shooting down accusations that the wrong driver had won world motor racing’s top prize.

“The decisions that have been taken in the last four minutes of this race have robbed Lewis Hamilton from a deserved world championship,” said Wolff four days after the race. “His driving, particularly in the last four races, was faultless. He had a commanding lead on Sunday in Abu Dhabi from the get-go.”

Wolff could, though, have referred a quartet of four faultless races from Verstappen – as could Horner about either driver – just as readily as either could have found four faults in their driving. And that is the point: they and their respective teams obviously back their own man rather than viewing the race (or season) through a prism of regulations they themselves had helped shape and voted for.

Perceptions are in the mind’s eye and could, of course, be readily right or totally wrong or somewhere in between, but until irrevocably disproven they are the unbridled truth to the beholder. To quote philosopher and father of lateral thinking Edward de Bono: “Perception is real even when it is not reality.” But, like every F1 fan, I am entitled to my perceptions.

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A case could be made that perceptions of the events during and after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix were twisted and manipulated by all affected parties – from drivers through teams to race direction and stewards and some partisan media – to suit their agendas, positions and nationalities. Fans sided according to their favourite, with many still clinging to convenient interpretations and perceptions of the rules.

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Such perceptions linger long after the results were declared final; after all threats of legal redress were withdrawn and all silverware distributed. Many viewers have vowed never to watch another grand prix, which is both an indicator of their disgust at what they perceived and a sign of ignorance of the rules. But Masi did not break any rules – the rules themselves were broken over time.

What Masi did do is apply them as he interpreted (perceived) them and while his interpretations may be open to question, as it is in the Mercedes camp (and amongst Hamilton’s followers) but not – surprise, surprise – by the Red Bull and Verstappen’s growing army of fans.

On Sunday in Abu Dhabi, he effectively acted as a policeman on point duty, directing traffic based on his judgement. That said, he is certainly stretched, and the FIA needs to consider an assistant (or two) to carry some of the administrative burdens he carries both as race director and in his other roles.

In August in an interview looking back on Masi’s (then) 50 grands prix as race director, he outlined his job description: “There’s obviously my role as the single seater sporting director, I have a lot more to do with the entire single seater ladder on a day-to-day basis [than did predecessor Charlie Whiting]. So all the way from F1 to F4.

Interview: Michael Masi on his first 50 grands prix as Formula 1 race director
“Then I have my core F1 team that does the operations, the IT et cetera and I’m the safety delegate for all the F1 events. I sit on the Circuits Commission, I do all of the circuit inspections for all the F1 events, new events, proposed events, current circuits, etc.”

Masi applied the regulations as required by constantly evolving circumstances during the heat of a finale battle. Had he manipulated any articles he would surely have been judged harshly by stewards, who twice heard (and rejected) protests from Mercedes that Sunday evening.

Mercedes on that Sunday evening called for the stewards to “remediate the matter by amending the
classification to reflect the positions at the end of the penultimate lap” – i.e., reversing the first two positions to be reversed, an unprecedented situation save where obvious mathematical errors were committed by officials. For logistics, regulatory and safety reasons the race could not be rerun later, while only stewards – not Masi – could decide to freeze the results as of lap 57. That they did not indicates that they fully supported Masi’s interpretation of the regulations, and, crucially, his decisions.

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On the flipside, had the matter progressed to appeal (or civilian) court the verdict would either have backed Masi’s decisions or found against them – with no middle road. The former verdict would have resulted in an inconveniently delayed crowning of Verstappen.

Hamilton did not attend FIA prizegiving
The latter verdict? Given the race could not be rerun, the only alternative would be to declare it null and void – as though it had never started – in which case the classification at end of the previous race would have decided the title. Given it was a draw on 369.5 points after that race, it would have gone to count-back on highest number of wins – again resulting in an inconveniently delayed crowning of Verstappen…

None of this, though, implies all is rosy in the F1 garden – far from it, in fact. Indeed, last Wednesday’s World Motor Sport Council meeting seemingly – note – acknowledged as much by appointing a commission of enquiry into “the sequence of events that took place following the incident on lap 53.”

A subsequent, cautiously-worded statement said: “This matter will be discussed and addressed with all teams and drivers to draw any lessons from this situation and clarity to be provided to participants, media, and fans about the current regulations to preserve the competitive nature of our sport while ensuring the safety of drivers and officials” (emphasis added).

There is no way of predicting the outcome but note the ‘draw any lessons’ clause – which could be taken to imply that there are few (or no) lessons to be learned; equally, the statement underscored the need for safety. The scene could be set for an exoneration of Masi for acting within his remit by ensuring safety standards were met while satisfying a long-standing inviolate decrees that no race should finish under a safety car and to ‘let them race’.

“These rules were drummed into Michael from the first day [in 2019] and since by everybody, from Jean [ex-FIA president Todt] and F1 downwards and by all team bosses plus the F1 Commission,” a source told RaceFans in Paris last week. “It looks bad on TV and leaves fans on a low.”

There was seeming conflict between Masi’s initial message at 18:27 (local) that ‘lapped cars will not be allowed to overtake’ during the safety car phase while they waited for debris from Nicolas Latifi’s crashed Williams to be cleared, superseded four minutes later by the massage ‘lapped cars 4 (NOR) – 14 (ALO) – 31 (OCO) – 16 (LEC) – 5 (VET) to overtake safety car’.

Safety Car, Yas Marina, 2021
Analysis: The four minutes that changed the destiny of the 2021 world championship
What happened in the four minutes between those two messages? Simply put: Latifi’s brakes unexpectedly flared up as the car was cleared; thus, Masi, who had been told by the (local) clerk of course that it would take two laps to clear the car leaving at least three racing laps, saw the remaining race distance reduced from four to two or even one lap. Those inviolate decrees came into play, and he acted in terms of sporting regulation article 15.3(e), which states:

“The Race Director shall have overriding authority in the following matters and the clerk of the course may give orders in respect of them only with his express agreement: e) Use of the safety car.”

Crucially, in terms of F1’s governance procedures these regulations were agreed with all teams, and at no stage did teams question these provisions until Masi exercised that prerogative. In fact, the teams effectively hold a veto over the regulations in that no changes may be effected unless eight of their number. If blame is to be apportioned the teams cannot be exonerated; equally the stewards found no fault in Masi’s decision.

On Abu Dhabi Sunday, ahead of the race, I spoke to McLaren team boss Zak Brown about paddock politics unrelated to the event itself. His comments were intriguing, to say the least: “I think [teams] should have less power. You know, we’ve only got politics because we’ve got such a big vote. There’d be less politics if we had less power…”

However, that Horner had been on the blower to Masi after the first message, and that the instruction was subsequently turned on its head gave rise to suggestions that he favoured Verstappen by kow-towing to the Red Bull team boss. Those close to him are adamant he, Masi, has never favoured any driver throughout his career, but a refusal to cede to Wolff’s demands that the decision be reversed fuelled these perceptions.

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There are, of course, allegations that Max has gotten away with overly robust driving during this season and these were cited as proof of favouritism, but stewards, not Masi, take such decisions. If there is any favouritism it cannot come from Masi, who does not have authority to hand down penalties (or favours). Penalty inconsistencies, too, are out of his hands – he merely flags up what he considers to be transgressions.

Which brings us neatly to perceptions of the stewards: while these are independent – I can vouch for the system, having attended four stewarding courses as observer – the major issue is they wear FIA shirts and present themselves as FIA officials while claiming independence.

Some of their number sit on the WMSC, and that must change to shift perceptions that they are entrenched in the system. Judges don’t sit in parliament or have offices in police stations.

Then there is Liberty’s commercial leverage of F1: While (recently-introduced) broadcasting of team folk arguing with Masi can make for good TV, the fact is only select conversations are broadcast, potentially conveying false impressions that such discussions are recent developments – which is not necessarily the case – while broadcasts tend to carry only ‘spicy’ bits. Such imbalances do F1 no favours, particularly among emerging fans.

These factors weighted heavily on F1 when it most mattered, and RaceFans understands these aspects will fall under the WMSC spotlight, which was given top priority by incoming president Mohammed Ben Sulayem during his first meetings with staff.

He should prioritise the commission over any inquiry into Hamilton’s absence from the gala, and, indeed, over any other business, for the sport’s top championship hinges upon perceptions of unethical conduct. The first step in this direction should be wholesale rewrite of the regulations to remove ‘all’ (not ‘any’) conflicting clauses which enable multi-interpretations.

That is where the real problem lies, for that would reduce Masi’s powers. And, while he is at it, the new president should clip the powers of the teams – on- and off-radio. That should be the only alternate scenario.


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198 comments on “The problems of perception the FIA must address after the Abu Dhabi row”

  1. The rule is quoted incorrectly, Masi has overriding authority over the Race Clerk’s decisions and not on how the SC operates.

    15.3 The clerk of the course shall work in permanent consultation with the Race Director. The Race
    Director shall have overriding authority in the following matters and the clerk of the course may
    give orders in respect of them only with his express agreement:

    e) The use of the safety car

    secondly the article fails to mention that the rules says all lapped cars must unlap themselves. Had the rules not broken there were 2 more laps under SC.

    1. Indeed. Unfortunately a very long and detailed piece, that’s based entirely on a fundamentally wrong reading of the rules.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        22nd December 2021, 13:24

        @j4k3 – It’s a very long and detailed piece of which you have just proven it’s point immediately. You’re and Wookie’s interpretation of the regulations is that the Race Director has “overriding authority over the Race Clerk’s decisions” however nowhere in the regulations is that explicitly stated. It’s just not there….

        Whilst it may not be the intention of the rules to give the Race Director overriding authority over the use of the safety car, that is what is written in the rules in black and white. Masi and the FIA’s interpretation of that line is that he does have overriding authority over the use of the safety car and ultimately, as the enforcers of the regulations, their interpretation of the rules trumps anyone else’s.

        This is why the teams pay huge amounts for lawyers to look over this stuff before anything is signed off. They should have spotted this and clarified the point – most likely the FIA would have agreed and would have changed the wording but as it was left in there and is clearly something that is open to interpretation, everyone is at the mercy of those responsible for interpreting it.

        1. You cannot just put a sentence out of its surrounding context. Its a paragraph with two sentences. And the context of a sentence needs to be respected also by those responsible for interpreting them, no matter how much pressure they get to manifacture a new champion.

          1. petebaldwin (@)
            22nd December 2021, 13:53

            I agree – the surrounding context is important to the interpretation of the rule and as I said, I don’t believe the intention of 15.3 was to allow the Race Director to do whatever he wants. That still doesn’t make it a paragraph that isn’t open to interpretation though…. Loosely worded regulations that allow room for interpretation lead to problems like this and it’s the job of the FIA, the teams and their lawyers to spot these issues and rectify them. They didn’t and it left room for the FIA to squirm their way out of a tight spot.

          2. 15.3 e) did not lead to the problem. The rules were broken, and this now is misinterpreted on purpose to use it as a backdoor out of the situation. Thats why this championship will ever stay illegitimate in my eyes.

          3. petebaldwin (@)
            22nd December 2021, 14:18

            I think that’s a perfectly valid theory as to what happened. Another is that Masi was already aware of 15.3 and interpreted it as him being allowed to do what he wanted with the safety car.

            Either way, it caused a lot of controversy and needs addressing quickly so that all parties go into the 2022 season in agreement as to what the rules are.

          4. @RomTrain If you’re going to look at the full context of 15.3, then I think Masi’s case grows stronger. Sections a), b), and c) on controlling the race, stopping cars, and issuing red flags all include the phrase: “in accordance with the Sporting Regulations” — i.e., that the race director’s “overriding authority” over the clerk of the course is still limited to acting within the regulations.

            But sections d) and e) do not include that phrase. That seems intentional, because when the safety car was reintroduced in the 1990s, the sporting regulations specified few procedures for its use. In the 1994 regulations, there is no procedure for starting a race behind a safety car — meaning the race director would necessarily have to improvise procedures not present in the sporting regulations. It seems, at the very least, easily arguable that the intent of 15.3 d) and e) was to give the race director carte blanche over the starting procedure and safety car to do just that.

            Perhaps the later safety car withdrawal procedures in 48.12 and .13 were intended to restrict the race director — but 15.3 was not revised to remove the conflict. And what’s more, 48.12 and 13 don’t explicitly state the race director ought to follow the procedures. Instead, they are written entirely in terms of the clerk of the course — and sort of lazily, with phrases like, “When the clerk of the course decides…” and, “If the clerk of the course considers…”. This contrasts with the older, preexisting language on deploying the safety car, which uses passive language that does not specify one or the other, and thus could more easily be argued to bind both the clerk of the course and the race director.

            So I don’t mean to defend Masi or the FIA, but to agree with @petebaldwin that the underlying issue is that the regulations are a patchwork of rules accumulated over the decades that have grown increasingly incoherent and allow multiple interpretations. Even if Masi has grounds to invoke 15.3, the perception of arbitrary rule is harmful to the sport’s reputation. It seems likely that 15.3 was originally written for the 1993 race director to exercise his best judgment in good faith in new situations — but I can’t imagine its drafters had that situation in mind when they wrote it. The sporting regulations need a team of lawyers to pore over it and issue mock challenges so they can be tightened, in the same way that Ross Brawn claims his aerodynamics team have battle-tested their own technical regulations.

          5. RomTrain

            15.3 e) did not lead to the problem. The rules were broken, and this now is misinterpreted on purpose to use it as a backdoor out of the situation. Thats why this championship will ever stay illegitimate in my eyes.

            Not quite, the rules are ambiguous given the overriding auhtority of the RD. There’s a problem with that, but it simply can’t be correctly said that the rules were broken as a whole. The conflicting messages regarding the SC are another issue as well, it led to further confusion and the inability to perform a reasonable procedure in the end of the race.

          6. The “surrounding context” in this case is that the race director’s overriding authority over other matters (such as the use of red flags) is subject to the qualification “in accordance with the sporting regulations.”

            There is no such qualification associated with his overriding authority regarding the use of the safety car. So the context suggests that he is allowed to depart from the sporting regulations when it comes to using the safety car, as he sees fit.

          7. @petebaldwin I would agree with that being a possibility if either Masi hadn’t said explicitly last year that he had no choice but to follow the procedure or a correction had been made at any point between then and his use of it. As it is, it looks like it was only considered after he had done as he did as a way to justify it, which looks very bad for both Masi and the stewards. It makes it look like they said “oh heck, this is really bad, let’s scour the rules to see if there is any way we can stop the proverbial hitting the fan”.

      2. Massimiliano Augusto
        22nd December 2021, 15:36

        If their overarching focus is safety, they should sack Masi. He took his grossly exaggerated power and applied a completely ridiculous interpretation of F1 rules, that no F1 fan has ever witnessed to enforce 1 lap of racing, whilst the track wasn’t even completely clear. There was plenty of fire extinguisher residue on turn 14 after the SC had been pitted a lap early, and Masi was just fortunate that no one took the corner wide on the last lap.

        The “perception” is a simple one: in the midst of ex F1 execs saying that Hamilton winning is bad for the sport, a new champion is crowned ONLY because there was a rule interpretation that the drivers, teams, media and fans have never seen. The stewards (who are part of the FIA) then deemed the rule interpretation to be fine. Consequently, if Mercedes’ wanted to appeal this decision, it goes to an ‘independent’ court hired by the FIA. It doesn’t take 5000 words to summarise the perception.

        1. I get this exact same perception.
          If thing were going “favourably” Masi and crew would not gone to such extremes to manipulate the race.

          Here’in lies the big question. Why was Hamilton winning the race under a 5 lap safety car unfavourable?

          We had one if the most exciting championship deciding races, Brazil 2012 finisbing under safety car and no one complained. In fact most forgot that the safety car was deployed!

          1. @david-beau

            We had one if the most exciting championship deciding races, Brazil 2012 finisbing under safety car and no one complained. In fact most forgot that the safety car was deployed!

            Ask the teams, including Mercedes, who agreed with the Let them race principle, including doing the necessary for a race to not finish behind the SC. There was time for the procedure to be applied correctly the way it’s described in the sporting code, to allow all cars to unlap themselves, and then the outcome would be the same.

          2. @david-beau The idea that the outcome was “manipulated” to favour Verstappen specifically is obviously contradicted by the lap 1 incident. If the stewards wanted to help Verstappen towards victory they would surely have penalised Hamilton.

            I can get on board with the idea that, er, liberties were taken with the Safety Car procedure to ensure a one-lap showdown between the title contenders. But I don’t think the powers that be particularly cared who came out on top as long as it was close between them.

          3. @red-andy Lap one incident would have been decided by the stewards. The safety car procedures were overseen by the Race Director. The two won’t necessarily have the same goals.

      3. The point of the article is to highlight the fact that the rules are open to interpretation and therefore the application of them runs the risk of creating this very situation.
        @j4k3 “based entirely on a fundamentally wrong reading of the rules.” is your perception of one rule without perception of other rules and all the other detail that go hand in hand with decision making, my perception may well be the same. Hence the quote “Perception is real even when it is not reality.” this is a psychological truth, what you perceive is real to you and you will believe it to be the truth. It is extremely difficult for any of us mere mortals to realise when our personal agendas are influencing our perceptions and correct it to the real real, it is natural bias towards our own agendas and we can’t see it unless we are looking for it.
        As supporters, in this scenario, we have perceived the rules in a manner that supports our desire for the driver we favour to win, and if unaware of said perception, we quite simply cannot see it any other way, right or wrong.
        The entire point of the article is to highlight the point that no single rule was applicable, so perception is that one or two rules have been broken and therefore someone cheated, but simultaneously one or two rules have been correctly applied therefore nobody cheated. Therein lies the problem (Conflicting rules) and in all likelihood the reason that protests were dropped (Only my opinion), but, there was really nothing to protest in terms of the ‘rules’. However, there is most definitely something in the rules that needs to be addressed.

        Of far more concern is the fact that individuals who are not actually part of the contest can place so much importance in on someone else’s achievements. It really doesn’t matter. Please put your energy into important things, like the planet we are destroying, children that are starving – Other.

    2. +1

      I dont get it, how this can be misunderstood, apart from it being misinterpreted on purpose. Rules were broken, and 15.3 e) is no justification of the decision to pull back the safety car in the same lap. Facts are facts.

      In my opinion they wanted a new champ and used the opportunity, braking the rules. Therefore its a cheated championship in my eyes. But opinions are up to everyone, so feel free to have your own here.

      1. misinterpreted on purpose

        It’s so obvious that’s what’s happening. This article reads like a comment from a one eyed max fan.

        Completely ignores other articles posted on this very site and even goes on to imply the site has some national bias for Lewis.

        1. I do think that Dieter is a one eyed Max fan although some of his articles have been really good.
          It’s sad we live in a world where people think being smart devious and manipulative is better than just being honest.
          Masi was wrong.

      2. Again, you are focusing on one single rule and perceiving that to be the beginning and end of the situation. There is far more to it than the interpretation/perception of 1 rule. Perceptions, interpretations and combination of many factors. None of us were in the room listening to the process and conversations while it was all unfolding, we really have limited view and perception of the whole situation. We simply can’t lean on 1 single rule in isolation from all other factors and believe that our personal perception is not influenced by our personal agendas.
        By arguing one rule under the banner of this article you have clearly missed the point.

    3. You just quoted the pertinent rule yourself. What do you think “overriding” means? If you are not a native speaker or lack education, then please consult with someone you trust, who can explain this to you. It is not a difficult concept to understand.

      1. Overriding regarding all rules? Send the safety car to bring his kids to school and get him some coffee? Its rubbish to pull this sentence out of its context. Its only two sentences you need to read, but yeah, if you want to misinterpret then you can do so.

        1. You defined the context to only the clerk. That’s not the intent of the rule.
          That part is about the clerk only communicating with expressed consent of Masi.
          Not the other way around.
          So still interpretation.

    4. Emmanuel Goldstein
      22nd December 2021, 16:02

      I agree with the other commenters that this article is based upon a fundamental misinterpretation of the rules.

      If Masi & the steward’s interpretation of the rules is correct, then by extension the RD also has overriding authority over the start procedure as well. Does this mean that Masi can, for example, direct all cars to line up in reverse grid order? Or to start the race when the second red light illuminates?

      If the RD has such overreaching powers, why have the other paragraphs in the rules at all?

      1. Yep. The other part of this article which I fundamentally disagree with is:

        What Masi did do is apply them as he interpreted

        This is not so. Only last year at the Eiffel GP, he stated clearly and on record that he had to follow that procedure. There has been no clarification from him, any stewards or anyone else within the FIA to say that he misinterpreted the rules then. Therefore, to suddenly turn around and say he was wrong only after he chose not to follow that procedure stinks of a cover-up: They realised that he had broken the rules and hunted for any part of the rules they could twist around to support their decision.

        I cannot believe that someone who clearly stated that he must follow a procedure less than 2 years ago, who has followed it precisely for every safety car since, and who has never issued any statement to contradict that until after the fact actually believed that what he did was allowed under the rules.

        The only part that I do agree with from this article, in fact, is that if the situation had been reversed, the reactions from teams, drivers and most Lewis and Max fans would also be reversed. I cannot say for certain what my reaction would have been: As a Lewis fan, I know I would have been celebrating, but I do believe (and hope) that I would still be appalled with Masi’s decision and calling for action to stop such a farce happening again.

    5. Fred Flintstone
      23rd December 2021, 11:14

      The term “overriding authority” clearly mean the Race Director can “override” and give an “order” (authority) on the matters listed – I think everyone agrees with this, but what seems to be in debate is whether the confers power over clerk of the course or carte blanche power over the rules of the matters listed.

      As it is the second sentence in a paragraph it would usually be taken as a “detail” sentence based on English grammar rules, and be seen to relate to the preceding sentence which is the topic of the paragraph. The “overriding authority” would then relate to relationship with the clerk of the course. This would make sense as the clerk of the course is the person who appears to be the one who usually gives “orders” for the matters listed (as noted elsewhere in the rules).

      Even if we disregard conventional grammar rules for paragraphs (and ignore the first sentence), and read just the second sentence – then the topic would still appear to be the power of the Race Director over the clerk of the course. The second half the of the sentence clearly states “…and the clerk of the course may give orders in respect of them only with his express agreement”.

      Based on the wording there are 2 (maybe 3) options:
      1. the clerk of the course makes an order with the Race Director’s agreement, or
      2. the Race Director gives an order directly, or
      3?. the Race Director orders the clerk of the course to make an order

      To be honest I’m not even sure we know which scenario(s) occurred.

      In all scenarios there is nothing in 15.3 to suggest the rulebook should not be followed. The overriding authority is presumably there purely to enable a decision to be made if a disagreement in the interpretation of the rules exists between the clerk of the course and the Race Director.

      If the intention of 15.3 was to give the Race Director carte blanche powers over the matters listed, then this power should clearly be its own paragraph and have its own number accordingly to highlight the significance of its authority (and be worded correctly). It should not and need not be combined with how the clerk of the course gives order and consults with the Race Director.

      1. Precisely. I’ve explained it like this before now:

        Imagine I am the boss on a building project. I assign 2 builders to work on a wall, but I specify that one of them has overriding authority on the mortar. I would still expect that mortar to be mixed correctly according to relevant regulations and company guidelines. This would not give overriding authority for him to ignore building regs, and it wouldn’t allow him to use no mortar or replace it with cream cheese. Anyone trying to claim such could be expected to be summarily dismissed.

        1. Excellent way of explaining this.

    6. Couldn’t agree more; article 15.3 was used as a red herring after the fact to defend a cock-up by an ad hoc, unprecedented safety car procedure; especially bad given the fact that he Masi is on record for saying that under the sporting code, all lapped cars are required to unlap themselves in 2020.
      I’m a bit surprised the author has gone to such great lengths in an attempt to justify the unjustifiable and rationalise it!
      And all those hypothetical questions are irrelevant. And yes, perceptions may play a role but you mitigate that by just sticking to the facts of what actually happened in those 4 minutes. It is not a perception that he invented a new rule on the spot by allowing only the cars between Lewis and Max to unlap so Max can attack given the tyre differences! What about the cars between Max and Sainz? If you give the chance for Max to attack, why not give the same chance to Sainz???
      The author can contort and rationalise all he wants but the facts will always be the facts; an ad hoc, unprecedented safety car procedure, which amounts to a cock-up at best and a manipulation at worst, period!

    7. You are mistaken
      Article 48.12 and Article 48.13 also apply
      “Any cars that have been lapped by the leader will be required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the safety car”
      ANY does not mean ALL in law
      The overriding authority given to the Race Director means he has unfettered discretion to make any decision and change it as he deems fit, overruling any other rule or previous decision.
      The Race Director is the referee appointed by FIA and agreed by F1
      The decision of the referee is final.
      End of story.

  2. OMG LOOK! A dead hourse lets go beat it.

    1. Lest we forget….F1~ 13/5/50 – 12/12/21

  3. I had to read the name of the author of the article several times just to be sure it wasn’t Masi who wrote it himself.
    Granted Masi has a difficult job, but he is arrogant and dismissive when he wasn’t to be. He will never accept that he makes mistakes and will constantly give himself a pat on the back for a job well-done.
    We don’t know how Mercedes or Hamilton would have reacted if they were in this situation as winners, but I am very certain they would behave differently and be more apologetic going by their respective history of handling such issues in the past.
    Drivers don’t earn points for how many times they change tyres.
    The job of the FIA or stewards is not to determine who deserves the championship retroactively based on their wrong interpretation of the rules. F1 is no Ballet. You don’t say because a driver drove well in the previous races then he must win. As such it is not the job of the FIA to compensate drivers for their earlier season bad luck because I kept hearing even Todt repeat that on and on.

    Masi’s mistake was the equivalent of making a center kick a penalty.
    There is no way to prevent such from happening again if the result will still stand irrespective of any protest.

    1. So, they handled it like a movie then.

      The hero had “bad luck” in the opening scenes and thus like the ending of the Avengers movie, a Deus ex machina situation MUST be used to produce the rightful conclusion to the season!: The villains on the cusp of victory are thwarted and hero against all odds, prevails!

      Nah. This is not what I want to watch. When I want movies I go to the cinema or watch Netflix.

    2. Maybe you have to reread the article again. Without bias and see your remarks already were addressed.
      But maybe it’s to soon and you are still grieving.

      1. You view issues with tinted eyes

      2. Grieving is short term. You on the other hand will be rationalizing a forever asterisk *, forever.

  4. Jelle van der Meer (@)
    22nd December 2021, 12:33

    Imagine the world where Masi would have made the correct call immediately to let lapped cars overtake the SC at the start of lap 56 instead of broadcasting that lapped cars may not overtake SC.
    In that world all lapped cars would have overtaken the SC, the SC would still have come in on lap 57 with Max right behind Lewis and with the exact same outcome on lap 58.

    1. The Safety car would have stayed out on the track an additional lap, as per the FiA rules. We don’t need to imagine anything. The rules were not followed because the show must go on.

      1. “the show” is a race. Not driving behind a sc. The rules are made to race, so they should be used as such.

        1. “the show” is a race. Not driving behind a sc.

          Then the Belgian GP was not a race and no points should have been awarded.

          1. It was not a race indeed.. that’s why they only got half the points.

          2. But it counted as a win for your beloved erikje.

      2. @erikje – Wrong
        Lap 56, all cars un-lap
        Lap 57, safety car in (NB! that is 1 lap later than above Lap 56)
        Lap 58, Max passes Lewis and wins, nothing changed.

        1. Apology erikje, not you, @johnnyrevvs
          But the point is mute as the track was not cleared.

    2. They couldn’t unlap on lap 56 because the track wasn’t clear.

      1. And let’s not forget the sc was driving much slower than is normal furthr making sure the race wouldn’t conclude under the sc. I would like to hear the instructions to the sc from those wouldbe ‘racing gods’.

    3. If you rewatch the race, on lap 56 when the cars pass the incident, there are still multiple marshalls standing trackside, and not at their correct posts. This renders this hypothetical timeline I have seen banded around a lot, completely irrelevant, as cars cannot be allowed to pass the safety car until all marshalls are back at their designated posts.

    4. Lapped cars couldn’t overtake at the start of lap 56 as Michael Masi stated that the track wasn’t clear for lapped cars so that wasn’t the correct call. Regardless of all the hypothesis that people can conjure, Max won the championship. What people should be annoyed about regardless of who they support is that the decision made was for the benefit of the show and not of the sporting integrity of F1.

      This isn’t Max or Red Bull fault, this is the fault of the official body of F1 and the fact they don’t accept the blame and try to blame fans for “misunderstanding” is insulting.

      1. +1.

        Mercedes were appealing to the stewards over the Race Director’s handling of the safety car. They were not appealing the actions of Red Bull or their driver (in this instance – their other appeal was and that had been dismissed). Why then was the Race Director not summoned to the hearing until after the adjournment? Why were Red Bull summoned to present a case on his behalf?

        As FIA employees judging a case against the FIA why did the stewards not declare their conflict of interest and stand down? From my reading of the Sporting Regulations there is a nowhere a penalty for the FIA should it fail to obey the rules, and so there is no explanation of how such failure will be judged. The Sporting Regulations assume everyone in the FIA is perfect in this respect. The idea that a Race Director would not follow the Sporting Regulations was obviously inconceivable to the authors. Now we know it can happen the regulations need to explain the remedies and provide for an independent judge.

      2. the fact they don’t accept the blame and try to blame fans for “misunderstanding” is insulting


  5. Masi perfectly illustrates the peter principal, personally I’m tired of the excuses of “I have too much to do”. Given the job, the visibility and the objectives, a person in the position of Masi should rather dictate what is required in additional assistance so he can focus on what he’s paid to do.

    The fact that we’re excusing differing interpretations of rules based on different events means we’re no longer talking about a sport, but a narrative.

    One of the biggest hurdles to any kind of real resolution I fear is the lack of a spine by the major media pundits, in that in order to not upset the apple cart, and keep accessibility to the inner circle, will NEVER be critical of what actually took place.

    We had a guy change the rules of a sport, mid-event in order to spice up the “show”.

    That’s WWE, not F1. Masi personifies the peter principle.

    1. Didn’t Toto make a comment earlier in the season to the effect of F1 going from professional boxing to bare-knuckle fighting to MMA. WWE was just the next step.

  6. Masi’s clearly abandoned the race in favor of the championship as all drivers that were in position to race for points in the race were not treated equally. Ricciardo had pitted just like Max but only 1 of them was allowed to get behind the car in front of them.

  7. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
    22nd December 2021, 12:54

    No Masi didn’t technically break any rule he just decided in the moment to not fully apply it. Not fully applying a rule is not to interpret its meaning. IMO.

    The stewards get out for Masi was that once regulation 48.13 was put into operation there was no going back.

    1. not applying a rules = breaking a rule

      1. lol. maybe I should talk to my tax office, that I dont want to fully apply the rules

        1. RomTrain

          lol. maybe I should talk to my tax office, that I dont want to fully apply the rules

          Each one deciding how much on taxes they’re willing to pay. This would be real justice.

    2. I would like to see any other part of the rules which allows lapped cars, or in fact any cars, to overtake under the safety car in this situation (except the ridiculous “I can do whatever I like so suck it” interpretation of 15.3).

      Overtaking is strictly prohibited except under very strictly defined circumstances. 48.12 defines one of those very strict conditions, and doesn’t apply unless it is fully applied. There is no way that it can legitimately be “partially” applied.

      The 48.13 get-out is correct, in that as soon as it is initiated the procedure there must be followed. However, that’s still a misapplication of the rules, just as waving the chequered flag early is. If that had been accidentally triggered early, it would be a mistake on the part of race control and I would expect them to hold their hands up and accept blame, as they have for early chequered flags in the past. However, it is pretty certain that wasn’t the case, so Masi purposely initiated that procedure early, which is still wilful breaking of the rules.

      Without the stewards interpretation of 15.3, there is no “legal” way for the race director to only allow a few cars through. Even his own messages to the teams didn’t comply with 48.12, so doing that in itself is against all written procedure. The only thing which gives him any get-out at all is 15.3, and even then I believe that goes against the very first article of the ISC (my emphasis):

      1.1.1 The FIA shall be the sole international sporting
      authority entitled to make and enforce regulations based
      on the fundamental principles of safety and sporting
      , for the encouragement and control of automobile
      Competitions, and to organise FIA International

      You cannot argue that this decision was made for safety reasons, and it certainly goes against the fundamental principal of sporting fairness. Changing the procedure for one race, one safety car period, in a way which benefits one driver over all the others goes completely against this principal. So, even if you accept the stewards interpretation of 15.3, it is still a breach of the regulations by Masi.

      1. Sorry, the emphasis doesn’t seem to have worked. I was pointing specifically to

        based on the fundamental principles of safety and sporting fairness

  8. Masi broke the safety car rules, the same rules he vocally reiterated to teams during the season. Why?

    He had not thought through a last minute safety car in planning for the race. If he had he might have determined that with ten or fewer laps to go there would only be a VSC or Red Flag to avoid ending under safety car rules.

    It was because of his earlier rulings that made Merc stay out. They could see that following Masi’s previous ruling the race would almost inevitably end under the Safety Car. In breaking his own rules he tipped the playing field upside down for several competitors and denied us a fair final.

    1. Masi broke the safety car rules

      For what reason do people like you continue to repeat this falsehood? Are you uncapable of understanding simple facts, even though they have been explained multiple times, very plainly in the article you are responding to? Or do you not care for facts and you are trying to further an agenda? What agenda may that be and what to do hope to achieve?

      1. read the rules.

        1. quote, but it seems that read is difficult for someone

      2. @uzsjgb Just becfause someone explains something the way they see it, doesn’t mean that everyone has to agree with it. I believe the author of the article believes what he is saying, but I, like many others out there, strongly disagree that the rules as written support it. Heck, only last year Masi himself didn’t believe it, and no statement contradicting that has been issued until after this incident, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that Masi himself still didn’t believe he was allowed to do this when he did…

  9. I’ve got massive respect for Deiter, but this is really disappointing. I thought being an outspoken old school journalist he’d call out injustice and lack of accountability shown in Abu Dhabi. I’d hoped he’d shine a light and force transparency for the inquiry, but I guess he’s going to just join other media and try to sweep it under the rug. Even jumping on the FIA bandwagon to blame the fans for their misunderstanding of the events.

    Whatever perceptions you have, it’s clear that 15.3 does not grant omnipotent power over the safety car. These so-called unbreakable rules of ‘let them race’ and ‘finish under green’ are simply concepts and should never supersede the regulations. The governing body decided the World Champion, but apparently, that’s within the rules depending on your perception.

    1. @coops27 yes, I had a similar feeling treading the piece

    2. @coops27 welcome to “F1 inc” where people close to f1 do not criticize and constantly toe the line because they do not want to on the FIAs and Liberty medias blacklist.

      This is why i am done with F1. Since liberty media taken over to be the commercial rights holder of F1 they have been on a mission to ‘Americanize’ and dumb down the sport with fake hype and artificial drama to attract newer younger casuals to F1 at the expense of adhering to any protocol and loose interpretation of the rules if it creates more hype.
      Regardless what the oldschool say, drama and astroturfed excitement is taking over, liberty media saw the massive social media engagement rates after Romain
      Grosjean torpedoed the barrier in Bahrain, the most viewed F1 highlights are of the random lottery races where the top drivers are taken out and a random driver like ocon wins. Basically liberty do not care about the best car and driver winning but fake WWE races to draw in viewers to watch the next F1 drama.
      Lewis being robbed was a way of the FIA/liberty to say massive FU to Mercedes turbo hybrid dominance and create more drama and hype by deliberately meddling in the end of the season decider.

      My guess to why merc did not challenge is that they have Kompromat on the FIA that they can use as leverage and they are confident that the 2022 new era car is a rocket ship and will dominate.
      They would rather humiliate the FIA and liberty on track and not in court.

      1. A journalist must try to be as neutral as possible. We definitely do not need journalists being like activists. We have enough of those making comments.
        Seriously would you want to end your career just because Hamilton didn’t win a 8th?

        1. But I don’t think all the journalists are necessarily being neutral. Many have stated how difficult it can be to get press passes, and that criticism of the FIA etc. can lead to difficulties and delays next season which can be devastating to their careers.

          Not that I am accusing this author of bowing to pressure: From previous articles and behaviour I think he is writing what he believes. I could not disagree with him more about the majority of what was written here, but I don’t believe he is doing anything other than writing he own honestly-held opinion.

    3. Absolutely +1. Very sad to read an article like this made by the great Deiter

      1. +1 I hope its not an indication of what’s to come in future articles.

  10. News Anchor: “Gary brings us news of more F1 controversy now from the season opening Bahrain GP.”

    Reporter: “Thanks Jeff. Incredible scenes here, as the race director has directed the Safety Car and the train of cars following to drive off into the desert, leaving Nikita Mazepin, who caused the incident, to win the race by wondering around the circuit on foot. Questions have been asked about Masi’s actions, but, as we know, regulation 15.3 means he can do whatever the … he wants when it comes to the safety car”

  11. An interesting albeit quite difficult to follow read. As a couple point out above, I feel that article 15.3 was applied wrongly. While the exact true meaning of it is unclear (it would be one of the things a court would have had to rule on if the appeal got that far), it is likely saying the Race Director has overriding authority over the clerk of the course, not the rules and procedures. However, it is slightly ambiguous (FIA and ambiguous rules, who would have thought?), but it may come down to a question of what the rules intend vs what the rules actually say.

    Going back to the hypothetical described at the start: I would expect the reaction would be exactly the same, with the roles reversed.

    Masi made a huge mistake in Abu Dhabi, and in my opinion should pay for it with his job. Get someone else in as race director. However, once those mistakes were made, it was always going to be extremely difficult to redress them. Merc have probably done the smart thing for them by not wasting time and resources fighting what would likely be a worthless battle.

    1. @RandomMallard I think the original intent of 15.3 probably was to give the race director overriding authority over the rulebook.

      15.3 The clerk of the course shall work in permanent consultation with the Race Director. The Race Director shall have overriding authority in the following matters and the clerk of the course may give orders in respect of them only with his express agreement: a) The control of practice, sprint qualifying session and the race, adherence to the timetable and, if he deems it necessary, the making of any proposal to the stewards to modify the timetable in accordance with the Code or Sporting Regulations.

      b) The stopping of any car in accordance with the Code or Sporting Regulations.

      c) The stopping of practice, suspension of a sprint qualifying session or suspension of the race in accordance with the Sporting Regulations if he deems it unsafe to continue and ensuring that the correct restart procedure is carried out.

      d) The starting procedure.

      e) The use of the safety car.

      So, a) and b) specifically restrict the race director’s overriding authority to be in accordance with the regulations. c), governing the use of red flags, even explicitly stipulates that the race director must ensure that the correct restart procedure is carried out. But there’s no such stipulation governing safety car restarts or the starting procedure in e) and d).

      I think the situation is probably that the wording and the intent were aligned when this language was introduced alongside the safety car in the 1990s, but that the perceived role of the race director has evolved over time and the language has not kept up. Back then, there were fewer safety car procedures written out in the regulations and the race director would have been expected to improvise in exceptional circumstances. Over time, teams wanted more clarity, Charlie Whiting looked to retirement, and more procedures were codified. But if 48.12 and .13 were intended to override the race director’s overriding authority on safety car restarts in the same way that the RD is bound to follow the regulations on red flag restarts, then 15.3e should have been amended to reflect that. “The use of the safety car in accordance with the Sporting Regulations and ensuring that the correct restart procedure is carried out,” would have left no doubt as to its intent.

  12. Unfortunately you just repeat the common error. The paragraph 15 (officials) of the regulations says WHO must govern meanwhile paragraph 48 (safety car) HOW they have to do it. These paragraphs do not oppose but complement each other.
    And I pay you attention on paragraph 2 (general undertaking) chapter 2.1 and chapter 1.1.1 of the International Sporting Code.

    1. Exactly! People should really at least just read the rules which are involved. It’s very tiring to talk about the rules with people who don’t read them, just take words out of context (“any and “overriding authority”) and think they’ve justified themselves. If only they had read it before…

  13. The problems of perception? Talk about taking the FIA line. What’s the point of being a journalist if you’re not investigating and reporting. Might as well be an FIA mouth piece.

    It’s all our fault, we’re reading the rules all wrong, Masi is faultless and just doesn’t have enough people to do a good job.

    Very close to boycotting Racing Lines.

  14. A massive can of worms was opened after Silverstone with the first lap collision I feel.

    For a racing incident on the first lap, the stewards were told to be lenient, the penalty that they applied was in hindsight too lenient perhaps.

    I get the impression Masi has been lenient with Max since them to try to redress the balance.

  15. The only solution I see, is to stop the teams from trying to influence the race director. Allow them to only say what were the reasons something happened, not to “do this or don’t do that”. I already knew that Hamilton leading was not going to be full guarantee of the win and I sensed something coming up. The fact that we have Mercedes bringing legal personnel indicates that they do not trust the FIA. The rulebook could also be even further elaborated to avoid these issues. As they say in Law, “the more details a rule/law has, the lower the possibilities are for interpreting it. »

    I don’t want to hear anymore radios in 2022 about “give this driver a penalty, do not bring out a safety car, do not wave a yellow flag, do not red flag”. Wolff and Horner in the last race attempting to influence Masi was just the worst I have ever seen. Horner comes off worst looking because of how aggressive his tone is normally on the radio, but Wolff has no right to also try to pressurize the referee into a decision making.

    1. @krichelle Agree. Article 15.3 can immediately be improved by changing “overriding authority” to “overriding authority over the clerk of the course”, which is what I believe the rule is really implying, not that the race director can override the entire rulebook.

      And completely agree at banning team-to-FIA radio (unless it is something safety critical, or responding to a message from the FIA directly to that team). In football, managers are often given yellow or red cards for poor conduct (which can involve trying to influence decisions). F1 should look at doing the same

      1. Beware unintended consequences. It is better that the race director has some flexibility in how they use the procedures in case an unexpected situation arises that requires radical action. A better solution would perhaps be to introduce some kind of checks and balances in the system, so that there is some sort of oversight to prevent abuse.

    2. The only solution I see, is to stop the teams from trying to influence the race director.

      This is a good step, but I believe there was more pressure on Masi from other sources than the teams in this specific instance. He knew he was being expected to put on a show, and that a finish under the safety car would be viewed harshly by many. Therefore, he was already looking to go against standard procedure by restarting without letting lapped cars through and, although that is his right under the rules, it can still be seen that pressure to finish the season on a green lap was changing the way he viewed the regulations. Heck, even that decision contradicts his previous statements.

  16. First I will point out that I may not agree with all decisions taken by certain individuals at the end of the final race, but also that I would have been equally fine with either title outcome. Both Max and Lewis had ups and downs throughout the year and I think they generally drove brilliantly, even if I’m not a fan of either of them. That is not the issue here.

    The problem, I think, is not that certain decisions are taken by certain individuals. The problem is that the rulebook requires those decisions to be taken too frequently. The book has simply become too thick and complex because they keep adding and expanding clauses and paragraphs and never really remove or simplify anything. They are trying to cover every possible situation by writing a specific rule for everything, usually leaving room for interpretation.
    I have studied game design at university level and I notice a few things here. First, there are differences but also many similarities between games, sport and law. From a rules point of view games and sport can be very similar, usually they involve a set of artificial problems and a win-loose criteria. Without the problems it would not be entertaining and without a win-loose criteria it would never end. The entertaining part is important, in games that is basically the entire reason why players participate. For any sport to be successful it could be argued that it also has to be entertaining for the audience, their interest is ultimately what generates the economy allowing it to continue. Finally we reach a point where games can become sport, if people are playing competitively with an audience. Which is why I argue my experience and knowledge is relevant here.
    In analogue games the participants themselves are usually responsible for following the rules. In sport a referee is often used to judge whether actions are legal, for example if a football player is offside or not. The offside rule itself is not that complicated, but it can be really hard to judge, especially for the participating players that are in the midst of the action. Good games usually have rules that are easy to learn but generate a complex system that is difficult to really master. Good sports generally have similarly easy-to-learn rules but might also require more of a physical ability to master, such as kicking a ball with strength and precision.
    In law on the other hand the rules are not for entertainment. And they are generally intentionally phrased so that there is room for interpretation, they are based around opinion and are meant to be discussed on a case to case basis where previous rulings are often needed for reference. A judge is generally required just to understand the full meaning of the rules. A complex system for actions that are often quite simple.

    In conclusion, F1 has become law. It needs to remember that it is a sport. The complexity should not be in the rules, it should be a result of the rules.

    To finish with a fairly straight-forward example off the top of my head, look at track limits. Right now there are several rules regarding this, many of which are based around loose interpretation. For example you are not allowed to go off the circuit and gain a lasting advantage, and you are not allowed to rejoin the track unsafely. But the circuit limits are not universally defined, advantages varies from case to case, and just how unsafe is not safe enough? Sporting regulations should not we written like that in my opinion. Stewards should not have to take decisions on a regular basis, they should just be the ones declaring offside or not, so to speak.

    1. IMO this is very relevant and constructive post and gets to the heart of why I see the F1 “sport” heading in the wrong direction. A game, sport, or any kind of storyline stops becoming entertaining to me if there aren’t effective ground rules. Allowing too much flexibility and/or interpretation results in something I don’t care to spend my time on like the “reality” TV shows or many (most?) judged competitions. Using law as an example the way this post does I think is particularly relevant.

    2. I can agree with this. There are far too many situations right now which require the stewards to use their judgement. This will always lead to some feeling persecuted. If they were penalised for a manoeuvre which they believe was allowed in another race (or even the same race), or their opponent wasn’t penalised for something which they believe is the same as something they or others were penalised for, the arguments and resentment begin.

      The technical regulations will always be complex. I have been involved in many technical competitions (although at a much lower level) and the rules are almost always so. This is completely acceptable, IMHO, and even then technical breaches will often require the stewards to use their judgement: The teams are always trying to find loopholes, but the written rules are what matters whether they are interpreted as intended or not. These are thought about over time, and the stewards and race director don’t need to make snap judgements on them. It’s completely acceptable for them to take a week or more to review them.

      The sporting regulations need to be treated differently. Black and white rules leave no need for judgement. A racing driver has to make decisions in fractions of a second, and leaving grey areas will only encourage them to exploit them. The on-track “rules of engagement” need to be as simple but clearly defined as possible. The track limits debate, for instance, should be very clear: You may not leave the track (defined by the white lines), and will be penalised if you do. You may not force another driver off the track, and will be penalised if you do. Make this very clear, clamp down hard, and drivers will stick to it. Leave even the smallest grey area and there will be arguments.

  17. Not sure the issue arose because of lack of resources or pressure from team principals. Fundamental problem was the director thought show is more important than sporting etiquette. Sometimes we look for systemic fixes when it is simply human error.

    1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      22nd December 2021, 14:04

      When it comes to calls for Masi needing help or must be under pressure all a race director has to do is defer to and let the clerk of the course do his job and there would be no pressure directly on him.

      Whoever wants to scream and shout would not then be any kind of distraction to the race. Once the safety car deployment is complete the clerk of the course defers to the race director for the race to continue.

    2. show is more important than sporting etiquette

      again.. we are watching racing.. not a lesson in “sporting etiquette”. Its getting ridiculous here…

      1. Oh I see how this works, you only want “sporting etiquette” when your boy ends up in the barriers. Penalty, blah, punted, 51G blah, hospital blah blah.

        Remember we are watching racing!

        1. And the perpetrator got a penalty for it. Way to lenient but still a penalty.
          Putting someone in the barrier with that speed is not racing.. i understand you are new to the concept. But that is not how it works.

          1. So you do want to talk sporting etiquette?
            Come on erikje, you need to make your mind up.
            You want rules and regulations upheld when your idol has been wronged. However to seem very happy for the integrity of the sport to just be thrown out the window. Seems you are a fan of Max not of F1 as a sport/competition.

          2. nobody put max into the barrier than he himself. ignoring the car alongside on the straight, braking late and turning in hoping it will have disappeared just didnt work out. yes, ham also missed the apex a bit, but he was on the inside line and made the corner, so according to max logic it was his fault.

          3. @pemz, no rules were broken.
            Read the article again. Maybe someone can help you understanding the content.

          4. no rules were broken.

            Actually the stewards ruling admits, in weasel words, that rules were broken (“Article 48.12 may not have been applied fully”). They just stated that Masi had the right to do so. That isn’t the same thing.

  18. Not sure why we have to speculate what Merc would have done if the situation was reversed. That is letting Red Bull off the hook for their actual behaviour. Referees make mistakes but beneficiaries of those mistakes should show a modicum of humility .

    1. The only really embarrassing behaviour was by toto. Screaming and foot trampling toddler with a tantrum.
      Horner stayed calm at least.

      1. I recall Horner and Marko throwing embarrassing tantrums at Silverstone, certainly not staying calm. Erikje you are completely blinded by your Dutch support if you can’t see that both teams are cut from the same cloth; neither is better than the other.

      2. Horner stayed calm at least.

        You’re so funny. You expected the man who pleaded for just one lap and got it fixed for him to be as annoyed as the one who was robbed? Your jokes are a bit over the top.

        1. Still, he stayed calm and just asked for something. While toto totally lost it without any respect.

          1. toto would have stayed calm when roules would have been obeyed. its just they were broken to change the championship result.

  19. Well we know Horner wouldn’t have blamed a ‘rogue marshal’, Max would not have walked off the podium in a sulk, and Marko wouldn’t have refused to answer the question ‘would RB pull out of F1 if the decisions were reversed?’

    Oh, they did? Never mind then.

    1. Rogue RD would be a nice statement

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      22nd December 2021, 14:20

      Red Bull would have absolutely acted the same way Mercedes did. Of course, you’d have criticised the hell out of Red Bull for it whereas I guessing you’re on Mercedes’ side for this one?

      1. In regards to the bigger picture it would be difficult picking sides as both have expressed the same dissatisfactions with the misapplication of the rules throughout Masi’s tenure.
        I leave the partisan games; and simple ‘guessing’ to those such as yourself.

      2. Personally, I don’t think Toto’s behaviour was acceptable. One of the nicest things in F1 over the past few years has been that the drivers and teams haven’t been forced to behave like robots, constantly scared for their jobs if they say anything critical and controlled by PR depts. This year, several of them (including, but not limited to, Toto and Christian) have stepped way over the mark and need to bring it back a significant amount, but I don’t want them to go back to how things were a decade or so ago.

        That said, Toto’s reaction was completely understandable in the circumstances. He had just gone from the near certainty of victory to a reasonable shot at best (with Masi’s initial call not to bring in the lapped cars). To see him rip up the rules he had followed at every single dry safety car he had ever run, to ignore what he himself had said he had no choice but to do, and hand an almost certain victory to Red Bull would have provoked a reaction out of anyone. I don’t believe that Horner would have reacted any better, and am pretty certain there would have been a very angry reaction from any TP on the grid in the same situation.

  20. I haven’t read all of the above comments but my overriding feeling is that this piece attempts to absolve the race director of a heinous mistake of breaking his own rules by taking its own interpretation of what seem to actually be pretty black and white rules.

    I am intrigued by something a casual fan asked me – one who is absolutely convinced that the whole situation is “bent” ie corrupt; maybe someone with a legal background can answer the below?

    Many people likely lost massive amounts of money gambling on the result of this race. Although Mercedes have chosen not to pursue an appeal, would betting syndicates/companies be able to seek legal recourse via civil courts to “prove” the FIA violated its own rules? Apologies if this has been answered elsewhere.

    1. The Dude it is a very interesting question. I would assume the answer is no, because the rules that have been broken are FIA rules, not laws. Thus, it would be covered by FIA legal procedure, which would require you to appeal to the FIA courts (not a civil court). The problem is, I highly doubt “angry gambler” or “angry gambling firm” are classed as interested parties by the FIA and therefore I expect they would have no legal standing in an FIA court.

      Essentially, I would expect the answer to be no. You don’t see gamblers take the Football Association to court if a penalty wasn’t awarded in the FA Cup final, so I would assume a similar situation to be true here. However, I’m not a lawyer or legally qualified in any respect, so I may be wrong (do not take this as legal advice!).

  21. Had he manipulated any articles he would surely have been judged harshly by stewards, who twice heard (and rejected) protests from Mercedes that Sunday evening.

    Well, no, because first, the stewards had to come up with a novel excuse for the total disregard for 48.12– which by their own admission, was not complied with. Technically, 48.12 doesn’t apply because Masi only ordered a handful of cars to unlap– a situation not actually covered in the regulations. The Safety Car may request cars to unlap themselves, and the clerk of the course may request cars between the safety car and the race leader to unlap– but I see nothing about Race Control being allowed to specifically unlap multiple cars (although, I do recall it happening in the past).

    And while 15.3 gives Masi authority over the safety car (more on that in a moment), it does not give him the ability to unlap specific cars.

    The problem with the steward’s decision is that if you follow their logic, the Race Director can order the safety car in while marshals are on track recovering a car or removing debris. That cannot be right.

    When the rules have been interpreted in a way that they blatantly defy common sense, or endanger drivers or track personnel, something has gone terribly wrong, and the rules need to be rewritten.

  22. TL;DR

    FIA screwed up with race officials breaking and inventing new rules on the fly to rob Lewis out of a win thus WDC so they give their appointed crisis management firm bags of cash in attempt to spin this trainwreck.

    Sadly no amount of spin and revisionism will change the fact that the 2021 WDC will forever have an asterisk * next to .
    FIA/liberty media’s blood lust for drama and juicy footage for a nexflix F1 docusoap destroyed the end to one of the greatest seasons in a generation.

    1. +1 I believe it to be one of the greatest travesties ever in the sport. What a sham. I wonder how many long standing fans are just discombobulated with their beloved sport now.

  23. While they’re at it stop giving Ferrari $35million after every season for no reason. Also something in the “rules” that reeks of favoritism. Sport is WWE wrestling at this point.

  24. Still a repeat of the mainly partisan Hamilton coloured reactions.
    This will be a hot winter Untill they stop grieving.
    But looking back at the last year Lewis was beaten on merit, it will take some time.

    1. to get cheated is different to being beaten on merit. the result was only created by braking the rules.

      1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
        22nd December 2021, 17:32

        Do you not see it is a baiting comment? If you can ignore them the guy won’t get more ammunition.

        1. All replys here are baiting comment.. just the other way around.
          Its clear you did not read the article or do not understand the text.

          Btw the fight on track was clean and Hamilton was beaten fairly.
          Masi only created the situation callled a race.
          The moment a SC was called Lewis knew he would be in trouble.. It takes some time for his fans to get tot the same conclusion.

          1. no, the rules were broken and the result was cheated. thats it

          2. The moment a SC was called Lewis knew he would be in trouble

            That is true, and had the race director followed the correct procedure in a way which led to the same final lap, it would just be how the cookie crumbles.

            But when the race director has ignored the rules and procedures he himself has stated he must follow, it’s a travesty regardless of who was victorious. I no longer care who won and who didn’t, but I do care that an official in the sport I have loved for most of my life has (and, in the stewards ridiculous interpretation, is perfectly within his rights to) completely disregarded the rules and made something up on the spot… That I do care about.

  25. The smart thing to do in hindsight was to call a red flag on lap 56 and restart the race with a standing start for 2 laps of racing. Masi can not possibly keep his job after getting it so wrong.

    1. In hindsight when the Latifi crash occurred there should have been a red flag if the race “must” end under a green flag as many insist.

      1. Absolutely, from what I saw the red flag is used for situations that can’t be cleared with a SC, usually when there’s a massive amount of debris, which wasn’t the case.

    2. @dutchtreat

      The smart thing to do in hindsight was to call a red flag on lap 56 and restart the race with a standing start for 2 laps of racing. Masi can not possibly keep his job after getting it so wrong.

      Was it necessary to have a red flag (barriers heavily damaged or stuff like that)? No. Then it definitively shouldn’t have had a red flag.

    3. So bending the rules in favor of lewis is acceptable..
      ( the rules do not accept a red flag for this situation)

      1. It’s not bending the rules, at most it would be an overly-reaction in terms of safety to a situation which didn’t warrant that level of safety.

        If you want to talk about bending the rules how about only allowing some cars to unlap under safety car and not giving the same benefit to all cars so that they don’t have to contend with back-markers under green flag. That is bending the rules to favour Max.

        1. Again, the rules do not offer the option to red flag such a moment.
          So you are really bending rules when you do. I get it, its in good for Lewis so probably allowed.

          Back to rules in general..
          Rules are there to make sure you can race safely. The are not meant to hamper driving but to make it happen.
          If you ignore a red light to safe a life without putting others in danger no judge will give you a ticket.
          The traffic lights are there so traffic runs better. Not to give you a ticket .

          The Fia rules are there so the race can be resumed as soon as possible. Not to follow to the letter because that suits someone better and ruïnes the race.

          1. I agree that a red flag would not have been strictly following the rules, as it is only allowed if the race director believes it cannot be handled safely under the SC.

            That said, that part is completely at the race director’s discretion. It only takes for him to say he doesn’t believe it would be safe under those conditions, and there is precedent from this year and others for it being used in cases which were not that much worse than Latifi’s crash. It would be bending the rules, and everyone would know it was to set up a more exciting finish, but at least it would be completely ignoring the rules and procedures and wouldn’t use such a ridiculous interpretation of a rules out of context as justification.

            I wouldn’t have been happy about it had they red flagged, but even such a blatantly “for the show” move would have been better than completely ignoring the rules Masi himself has said he has no choice but to follow.

  26. Dieter, as others have pointed out, it’s a shame to see your name on such drivel. It reeks of Ecclestone-era journalism when you could lose your press pass for speaking ill of the show.

    1. Ridiculous reply… censorship is normal for you i guess.
      Btw this is not a Hamilton Fan site ( i can understand you get that impression often)
      So objectivity is allowed.

      1. objectivity would imply to critize when rules are broken, not to try covering the things with misinterpretation of 15.3 e).

        1. Criticism is fine.
          Interpretation is fine.
          Suggesting your statement is a fact is wrong.
          It’s an opinion, nothing else.

  27. Can I take you up on this

    If there is any favouritism it cannot come from Masi, who does not have authority to hand down penalties (or favours). Penalty inconsistencies, too, are out of his hands – he merely flags up what he considers to be transgressions.

    Masi does have some power on penalties, as demonstrated in Brazil, by not referring incidents to the stewards.

    1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      22nd December 2021, 17:39

      I think if the stewards see an infringement they can investigate without it needing to be referred by the race director.

      1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
        22nd December 2021, 17:42

        Sporting regulation
        47.1 The Race Director may report any on-track incident or suspected breach of these Sporting Regulations or the Code (an “Incident”) to the stewards. After review it shall be at the discretion of the stewards to decide whether or not to proceed with an investigation.
        The stewards may also investigate an Incident noted by themselves.

  28. Perception?
    #Article is WhiteWash!

  29. I think anybody with basic legal knowledge or some experience in rule or law interpretation must agree that the rules are quite clear and they were also quite clear when they were broken. The unlapping procedure is not a must according to the regulations and Masi had every right to green flag the race without starting the unlapping procedure. I think that it is also very clear that the rules of the unlapping procedure are not written down as an example or recommendation. They are written down because basically fair play for the competition may only be ensured if 1) everyone keep their track position (so called earned backmarkers stay where they are) or 2) all lapped cars can unlap themselves and there is time for them to try and catch up with rest of the field (i.e. SC in the following lap). As well said by some comments here 15.3 is generally to settle the relation between the RD and the clerk of the course. Overriding authority means that the RD can send in the SC (the clerk may only do this with his express consent). If you take a look at the other points listed in 15.3 it becomes quite clear that if we accept the interpretation that RD has overriding authority (even over the written rules), then the RD also has overriding authority over the starting procedure. Basically that would mean that he can start the lights when only 4 cars are in their starting position or any nonsense like that. From a legal perspective, both the stewards’ and RB’s reasoning is really-really ridiculous and weak and basically mean that the written rules are just recommendations and that the fair play is overwritten by the manipulated show.

    1. DigitalOut

      From a legal perspective, both the stewards’ and RB’s reasoning is really-really ridiculous and weak and basically mean that the written rules are just recommendations and that the fair play is overwritten by the manipulated show.

      As well as Mercedes’ reasoning, which is also plainly ridiculous, creating a whole drama about a robbed championship when in reality the preferred SC procedure by teams between the two possible choices per regulations, namely all cars unlapping themselves, would lead to the same outcome. This procedure would have been possible to be enabled had conflicting messages not been sent to the drivers.

    2. Well in fact he has overruling power for starting the race (in the rain) Rule 42.1 clearly states several times. In the opinion of the RD. So no contradiction there with 15.3

      1. Why on earth would they need to explicitly state that he could overrule the regs for wet starts if 15.3 gives him “overriding authority” over the race starts and safety car? If 15.3 was already intended to give him that power, it would be completely unnecessary. The fact that there are specific regulations later on giving him such power in defined circumstances is quite a strong indicator that 15.3 was not intended to give him such power.

    3. Spot on!

    4. I think the original intent of 15.3d was indeed to give the race director overriding authority over the starting procedure. Article 148a of the 1994 sporting regulations specifically says that under exceptional circumstances, a race can be started behind the safety car, but at that time, there were no procedures written into the sporting regulations for how to handle that. (In fact, Article 128 — the 1994 equivalent of the rule that @hannesch mentions — contradicts 148a, as it does not allow for any variations from the starting procedure that include the safety car.)

      I think the most straightforward interpretation of the intent of what is now 15.3 (then Article 35) was that the race director would be able to use his overriding authority in 15.3d and e to improvise a safety car starting procedure, as he saw fit — outside of the sporting regulations (and, indeed, overriding Article 128).

      To me, the arguments that the race director could have done “nonsense” like starting the race with 4 cars or inverting the grid don’t hold up. Using authority in bad faith is never defensible. I think 15.3 was originally drafted in good faith for the race director to use in good faith, when the role of the race director was different. I think it should have been revised. But it was not, and so I think that Masi can reasonably claim to have invoked 15.3 to act outside the regulations in good faith to finish the race under green, as all parties agreed was desirable (which no one has contradicted), and to achieve what 48.12 and .13 were intended to achieve — leaving the frontrunners free to fight. I don’t think it’s an airtight case, but it’s certainly much stronger than I first thought when I read 15.3 and thought, “Well, clearly this only applies to overriding the Clerk of the Course.”

      None of which changes my belief that allowing the race director to freelance is not tenable, and the sporting regulations need an overhaul. It’s not a good look for the sport for the race director to say kerbs are part of the track when the regulations say they’re not; or for the race director to make an offer to a team while the stewards are making their own deliberations; or for the race director to act outside the regulations at the most crucial point of the season.

      1. I think

        So your interpretation. Just as Dieter mentioned.

      2. @markzastrow

        Excellent, the former rulebook and the ‘story’ behind a rule change can bring excellent context to a rule.

        I do think that rules must be clear and if they can be explained in different ways then so be it for now. And fix it on the first occasion. All teams can examine the rules book and ask clarification for what if scenarios, no one did.

        For the finishing under green, just make a rule that if the SC is still on track x laps before the final lap it will be a red flag and a standing start. But then think about the 3 hours rule, what then. It shows it’s difficult to make a water tight rule book. The RD needs overruling power.

      3. I can see and accept that interpretation as potentially being valid, although I still believe it to have been twisted in defence of Masi after the fact to cover up his “mistake” instead of something he knew he could do in advance. If he had any idea he was allowed to do this, he wouldn’t have stated on record that he had no choice but to follow the written procedure last year, and any clarification would certainly have been made public to avoid him contradicting himself at a later point. The fact that this was only brought up over a year later when Masi had torn up the established procedures as he did does not look good for him or the stewards.

        1. @drmouse I agree that’s a strong possibility, especially considering, according to the stewards’ statement, it was Red Bull that made the argument about 15.3, not Masi. (Although perhaps Red Bull made the argument first and then Masi felt he didn’t need to repeat it.)

          I also think it’s possible that Masi didn’t want to invoke 15.3 in front of the stewards because he anticipated the blowback—which could also explain why he didn’t invoke it at the Nürburgring. No need to deviate from the standard procedure when there were plenty of laps left and no danger of the race ending under safety car.

  30. Excellente article. If people only took a step back and tried to see the matter from a neutral standpoint.

    1. Agreed but they are still mourning and that will take some time i guess.
      Some never will recover and others will see the insight this article offers, with time.

      1. It has nothing to do with “mourning” I’m not sad in the slightest, I didn’t even want Hamilton to win, but he shouldn’t have lost it based on that race.

    2. Unfortunately it won’t has Martin Brundle alluded to people have already made up their minds.
      I have no problem with Max and Red Bull being champions. It makes a nice change and overall he drove magnificently over the whole championship.

      But history will forever recored this as a tainted/controversial WDC where a FIA representative unprecedentedly applied different rules to normal, and nothing will ever change that.

      Even if you conclude that it was within the rules the author agrees that those rules need to be tightened so no ad-lib interpretation can ever be made in the future.

    3. I am not certain this is very neutral. It is an opinion piece, and I believe it to be the author’s honest opinion, but I don’t believe it to be neutral at all. It is a pretty staunch defence of Masi and the FIA, and it ignores several counter points instead of addressing them.

  31. I’m surprised that the end of this article seems to suggest that word ANY in the rule 48.12 is open to interpretation as argued by Red Bull

    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.

    Beginning of FIA statement issued about the controversy.
    “The FIA’s primary responsibility at ANY event is to ensure the safety of everyone involved and the integrity of the sport.”

    I assume the FIA don’t mean that its there primary responsibility is to ensure the safety at just a select few events and not all.

    It’s obvious in both statements that ANY means all, it is not open to interpretation.

    I am also a bit surprised that the author thinks the commissions priority is Hamiltons absence from the Gala.


    1. seems like they want to calm down the situation, but there are no valid arguments. those misinterpretations like any vs all and 15.3 e) are crazy. understandable from biased fans and the gifted team, but a shame for the FIA and high class sports journalists.

    2. The “any/all” finding was mentioned in the stewards’ decision dismissing Mercedes’ complaint – a decision that is now final since Mercedes chose not to appeal it – so not only is it clearly open to interpretation, but the stewards have interpreted it.

      Regarding the FIA Gala, Dieter mentioned the possibility in his last Paddock Diary after Hamilton skipped most of his post-race media commitments at Abu Dhabi, so it is not surprising he brings it up again here – after all, exactly what he predicted came to pass.

      1. The “any/all” finding was mentioned in the stewards’ decision dismissing Mercedes’ complaint – a decision that is now final since Mercedes chose not to appeal it – so not only is it clearly open to interpretation, but the stewards have interpreted it.

        That’s bovine excrement. If a guy punched you, but you chose not to press charges to save yourself the upheaval of a court battle, does that make what he did correct and legal? Does that set a precedent that anyone is allowed to punch you in the face whenever they want without consequences?

        To be fair to the FIA, the any/all distinction was used in Red Bull’s submission, and they didn’t directly reference it in their own conclusions. I suspect they viewed it with the same derision as anyone with even the most basic understanding of either every day or legal English. If an announcement came over a store PA system that “Any customers must leave the store immediately”, everyone would instinctively know that it was shorthand for “If there are any customers in the store, they must all leave the store immediately”. It was one of the most ridiculously mangled uses of semantics I have ever seen.

        The rest of it “stands”, but that certainly doesn’t make it right.

  32. I find this such a disappointing article to read from Dieter, who has always delivered incredibly well balanced and detailed articles. For some reason here you decide to gloss over the biggest of the points – that whatever happened with the number of cars unlapping themselves, when the last car passes the lead car, the safety car will come in on the following lap. Presumably a rule brought in for safety reasons but that for me was the bit that made me really think the result was deliberately manipulated.

  33. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    22nd December 2021, 19:57

    Having your ‘wife’ and future driver push your agenda on social media is as pathetic as it gets. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Mercedes rightfully sacks Wolff for brining the name of Mercedes-Benz down in some desperate vendetta against losing to an energy drinks company.

    1. I have to share it with you that your comments have such a laxative effect…, you have to excuse me…, I have to go…

    2. Having your ‘wife’ and future driver push your agenda on social media is as pathetic as it gets.

      You know Geri Halliwell made a post on insta first right?

      1. You are seriously following those people?

    3. your profile picture matches your comments pretty well.

    4. Toto, Ineos and Mercedes own equal shares in the team. Mercedes would need Ineos’ backing to sack Toto (and he’d have to sell his share I guess?)

      Not gonna happen.

    5. @barryfromdownunder – Fundamental error in your comment. Mercedes did not Loose, Mercedes won.

  34. This is disappointing from @dieterrencken . Basically, he asserts that the rules (and therefore ultimately the teams, which have approved of these) are to blame, and Masi just followed these rules (because “equally the stewards found no fault in Masi’s decision”) and so the entire debacle is just a problem of “perception”. I mean wtf??? Even if we assume that Masi could do whatever he pleased with the safety car, what interpretation of the rules, or what precedent would encourage or even allow him to decide that only some of the cars are permitted to unlap themselves? And this aspect is not even MENTIONED in the article – it pretends that Masi’s decision only revolved around the use of the safety car. Which was clearly not the case. Although I usually rate him very highly, this is simply bad journalism from Mr Rencken. And not because I disagree with his conclusions, but because those conclusions are reached by turning a blind eye to some really fundamental aspects of the issue.

  35. Thanks Dieter,

    I am not a Formula One ‘fan’, but I am a Formula One enthusiast. With all of this discussion that has been filling page after page (including hate messages to drivers), I have come to a conclusion that may well resolve all of this concern and sometimes not nice discussion.

    To calm the situation, why not settle it all by taking the 2016 championship away from Nico Rosberg and awarding it to Sir Lewis Hamilton? That will solve one ongoing gripe that the ‘fans’ are still voicing. Next, reverse the result of this season’s final race so that Max Verstappen finished second to Sir Lewis Hamilton for 2021 – difficult to do, but at eighty-two years old, and having been enthusiastic about Formula One since 1950, I see such actions as the only way to resolve the combined disappointment of Sir Lewis Hamilton, the legions of his ‘fans’ and the entire Mercedes-Benz-named team.

    My apologies to Nico and Max for this reasoning, but I am sure that you are both gentlemanly enough to take a step above all the accusations that have been thrown around during the just expired formula. I sincerely hope that 2022 will be a vastly less controversial season for Formula One.

    The FIA, Liberty Media, teams and all of those who assist voluntarily – I sincerely hope that reason prevails in the seasons ahead.

    Merry Christmas.

    1. Are you actually 82?

      1. To: Emma,
        Indeed I am and am heading towards 83!

    2. Have to agree, But your solution falls short as the argument will then move on to any of the other seasons in which Sir Lewis has partaken. I think it unreasonable to have Sir Lewis not win any of the seasons he has competed in, change them all to make him champion.:)

  36. The last thing we need is Racefans to become an FIA stan account. This is approaching parody.

    I get it, there is an angle and perspective of the FIA. There simply isn’t a universe where the FIA provide the impression that they’re closer to competent than being a joke.

    People talk about the last race being bad, it was, but so was the whole season. Looking back over the years it’s never been any better, we’ve just got over it and accepted that it’s a tough job and it’ll always be a bit rubbish. I do wonder what the investors at Liberty think as it’s a million miles away from what they see in professional sports in the US and it’s harming their product.

  37. And another thing, Horner and Wolff are not to blame for any of it. Masi allowed these 2 to chat him up all season. Neither was reprimanded, fined, nor penalized. Once again Masi could have done the right thing but he didn’t at anytime.

    1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      23rd December 2021, 9:51

      The communication has been there for sometime just not heard by TV viewers.

      The chat did degenerate though and you are correct Masi lost control of the situation.

  38. I still feel the most egregious decision of the year was to award ANY points for the Belgian GP at Spa. That said, a review of all communications between FIA/Liberty/Race promoter/Teams/stewards & Masi during the final race could finally put an end to the speculations and outrage from fans and media alike.

  39. I believe it was a hard task for Dieter to try to expose a different perspective from the perceived impressions on what looks like the majority of followers from this site (probably around 70% of them Hamilton fans) so I try to expose my view on this one without the bias of a fan, just from a F1 fan who watches this sport since 1981.
    I believe what ultimately triggered Masi’s changes on his decisions weren’t the radio chat from both team principals, they certainly didn’t help him on the decision making process adding the noise and pressure, but what drove Masi thinking was mostly the commercial pressure he had to not have the greatest championship battle of the last 15 years ending under a safety car, it would be the most anticlimactic end of all. And his decision making process was hampered by the ongoing issues during the 4 minute time when Latifis brakes started to catch fire. I believe his initial intention was to end the safety car as it was without letting lapped cars to overtake to allow at least 2 laps of race, but when he realized he wouldn’t have 2 laps available anymore, he took the prerogative of overriding the rule to allow at least 1 clean lap with both cars. For sure it wasn’t the best decision but I don’t believe he tried to benefit Max, he would do the same if the situation was the opposite. What I can say is that on other F1 sites from different countries there’s not this disproportionate outcry that this was done deliberately to not let Lewis win. It was poor judgement and poor decision, but not different from several other decisions during this season. It didn’t compare let’s say with the farcical decision from FIA of disqualification of Senna on 89 Suzuka win for example. The truth is that since almost every corner on every track is now much more sanitized with most of them with asphalt and not grass, sand or other punishing surface, we have this whole ‘lawyer debates’ on every time we have 2 drivers trying to overtake in a corner. Deep dives under braking wouldn’t help, because if you leave the track you reach a wall, period. So this is now a monster created by FIA, they won’t never be consistent and at the same time allow thrilling race to happen. So even if Lewis was penalized on this occasion, overall he had more luck than Verstappen on the season as a whole, the real mistake this time was the ill judgement from Mercedes strategy who didn’t pit him trying to retain track position. A gamble that wouldn’t probably work even if the safety car ended without letting cars to unlap themselves. Overall there’s this view on this website comments that when things goes wrong for Lewis there was a reason behind. I always see the Ham fans pointing that his title was lost in 2016 was lost due to engine issues for example. But no ham fan says the same about 2008, where Massa retired on the last lap of Hungary gp while leading comfortably due to a car failure. That would give him the title too and not Hamilton but I don’t see anyone commenting this here. Overall, 2021 it was his best year in a long time, but in my view he was beaten fairly by Verstappen. Both had lucky wins and unlucky retirements, and stewards decisions against them and for them in the same measure. I believe you should get over it.

    1. ” the real mistake this time was the ill judgement from Mercedes strategy who didn’t pit him trying to retain track position. A gamble ”

      totally the opposite is true, Mercedes calculated that the race would end under SC. Gambling would have been expecting Masi to break several rules to make 1 lap race in the end.

      1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
        23rd December 2021, 9:48

        I cannot even find the comment in that mess above but it is always with hindsight that so many keep claiming teams have made mistakes with strategy.

        Martin Brundle always mentions it when he sees it, “What ever he does do the opposite.”

      2. I know it looks easy to decide in hindsight, and they didn’t have a lot of time to make the call, but the problem is Mercedes strategy team were shortsighted on this one, the engineers should have considered that in this accident with only 1 car and without the need to fix or replace any barriers for example, the race would eventually resume prior the end. They had the upper hand over Red Bull, as they were in front of them. Hamilton who is strategy savvy also knew this when he asked his team about the decision . This is ultimately a decisions that backfired from Mercedes. Red Bull did the opposite and it paid off.

        1. @mmertens Except Mercedes made the right call. If the rules had been followed the race would have finished under the Safety Car. In that scenario, Mercedes would have been _insane_ to have pitted Lewis.

          1. I disagree, the race would resume for 1 lap, but with the 5 lapped cars between Max and Hamilton. Better than what happened but still very risky, considering the 2 long straights and all sector 3 which would favor soft tires. Almost sure Max would end trying a Kamikaze move by the end, and with Lewis at risk of being overtaken or having a collision with Max. It wasn’t a good move by Mercedes. But if it’s your opinion, all good, we agree to disagree on this one. Cheers.

          2. @mmertens Check the rules. “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.” (Emphasis mine)

            There’s no “opinion” here. It’s in the rules laid out very clearly. The safety car should have unambiguously stayed out for an extra lap.

          3. Disagree with this one, the incident was cleared in lap 56, if race director sticked with decision of not let lapped cars unlap themselves, the safety car would enter the pits by the end of lap 57, letting a full race lap. It’s not mandatory to let the cars unlap themselves.

          4. @mmertens But cars were allowed to unlap themselves, therefore the SC must stay out for one further lap. If cars weren’t allowed to unlap themselves, then sure – withdrawing the SC at the end of lap 57 would be find. But in that case there would be 5 backmarkers between Lewis and Max, and we would have had a different final lap.

            Mercedes made the correct call.

          5. That’s I’m talking about, when SC was deployed, there were no guarantees that race control would allow lapped cars to overtake, we had situations were they were not allowed to overtake. (Is Race director discretion) Mercedes made the call of not pitting them prior this decision from Masi. They couldn’t take for granted that there would be a decision to unlap the cars or not from Race director, so there was a great risk of at least one lap race. Basically Mercedes gambled in that one, and backfired. On your view it was the best decision, and I’m ok with that, but even then was still a gamble from Mercedes, because it was possible for the race to restart prior the end. Masi just made it a bigger mess when he did his ‘hybrid’ rule approach , and this due to the pressure for his’ TV finish’.

    2. Very well written objective view.

      1. Exactly, and looking they all practice sessions in the weekend, Mercedes had the better pace on every tire combination, they could easily take the lead on last lap should they had lost track position. Of all possible decisions they had available, they took the worst, and provided Red Bull a chance. To be honest, Mercedes would be really naive to think that the final title showdown race would finish under safety car.

    3. that this was done deliberately to not let Lewis win

      I certainly don’t think that was the reason he did it, and nor do most of the fans on here. There is only a small minority, even of Hamilton fans, who believe that. It’s pretty nailed on that he did it “for the show”, but that doesn’t make it fair or right to ignore the rulebook and all precedent to make up a new procedure which benefits only one car on the track over any of the written and followed procedures available. Even if 15.3 does actually give him that right, using it the was he did goes against the very first article of the ISC.

  40. Just one small point, how dumb is that not all cars were let by.. that’s what is ridiculous.. all else can be forgiven not that… simple as that

    Max. Is the Wdc, deserving.. period

    But the above point is not negotiable..

  41. This website has become a cesspit. I’ve seen more logic and fairness at Trump rallies than I see in this comment section.

  42. The main issue I have from this whole debacle is the “let them race” concept. They let “some” of them race, not all of them. I wouldn’t have had a problem with Masi interpreting the rules to ensure 1 lap of racing as long as it was applied equally across the field. The unfairness in this is that only the front 2 were deemed worthy of being allowed to race, not the whole field.

    Rules should be applied equally to all, irrespective of their championship position. Not doing so leads to the integrity of the sport being compromised.

    1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      23rd December 2021, 9:45

      Carlos was half hearted in his criticism but did make that comment.

  43. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    23rd December 2021, 11:21

    The nagging isn’t the cause, it’s the effect of inconsistent stewardship and race direction.

  44. I highly doubt anything will change with the FIA. The power, ego and money they carry is way more important to them.

    Making changes to anything would mean having to admit there was a fault with the rules and/or how they were implemented.

    That would mean having to take responsibility for an error. That will never happen.

  45. “while satisfying a long-standing inviolate decrees that no race should finish under a safety car and to ‘let them race’.”

    When was this “inviolate decree” made? Was it recorded and agreed? I assume it was brought in following 2012, as no one seems particularly upset that a championship deciding season finale finished under a safety that time.

  46. It’s interesting to me to see that clearly, the majority of the argument against the result is from Lewis fans, while Max fans appear to be strolling along whistling victory tunes. That is exactly the point, Perspective, Personal agendas, lack of all information in forming an opinion. You are all correct and incorrect, Just depends on your perspective. Your emotional attachment to an agenda influencing your perspective, what you perceive to be the facts ,how you interpret those facts and what you perceive to be enough facts to form a unbiased view…Oh that’s right, can’t be unbiased as we are Human and yes we all have an agenda, we want our guy to win.
    Had the entire race been reversed and Lewis overtook Max on the last lap to win the title, the argument against the result would be from Max fans, while Lewis fans would be strolling along whistling victory tunes. RB would have had two protests rejected and have backed down.

  47. For the past years the Teams, Drivers, FIA, LM have been the pushing subjective ideologies – “let them race”, “relaxed officiating on the opening lap(s)” and “not to finish under a SC”. In my search of the sporting regulations I cannot find any instance where these are explicitly considered. The Teams and FIA know the rules inside out and will know that the only way to support these ideologies is by not following the rules to the letter of the law, but through interpreting the rules through the vista of the ideology.

    Therefore, I’m surprised, that they are surprised when they get this type of outcome.

    Perhaps they should have spent the time to properly document the rules for these ideologies?

    1. Personally, I believe there is an implied “within the regulations” which most expected to be followed. If I told a friend “I need you to be here on time”, I wouldn’t be giving him permission to drive at 100mph all the way and run over pedestrians to do so if he set off late. The same should be applied to these: If there was any way to finish the race under green flag conditions within the regulations (there was), it should be done. It doesn’t give Masi permission to ignore the rulebook and do whatever he wants.

      1. I do not see much implied to support these ideologies, although there is much which seems subjective and therefore open to the interpretation of the Race Director/Stewards. Regarding Massi, I would say he has not only been given permission but it has been foisted upon him by the Teams/FIA/etc to meet other aims (improve the show, revenue….)

        I understand your point about rulebooks. I have managed business contracts and the sections/regulations have to considered based on purpose, intent, priority which is difficult as an outsider. As an example I can read 15.3 in two different ways and without inside knowledge I do not know how to apply it correctly.

        I don’t like the situation but ,after decades of watching FI, earlier this season I decided that no longer know the rules based on the decisions being made.

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