FORMULA ONE’s governing body have delivered their report into the controversial end to the 2021 season – but it appears to be nothing more than a whitewash.
The FIA have taken a whopping 97 days to disclose their findings after former race director, Michael Masi fudged safety car rules in the Abu Dhabi GP, denying Lewis Hamilton a record eighth world title.
Verstappen pipped Hamilton to the title in controversial fashionCredit: AP
Hamilton was left gutted when he was denied an eighth world titleCredit: Getty Images – Getty
The report blamed “human error” for the cock-up but stopped short of offering a full apology or taking responsibility for the controversy.
It also FAILED to identify whether Masi had been influenced by the radio messages between himself and the Red Bull pitwall.
In fact, Masi is barely mentioned in the detailed analysis of the incidents on December 12th.
In a further damning indictment, the report stated that improvements should be made after identifying some FIA staff did not even know the rules.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the race – and the title – after Masi, the race director, failed to follow safety car rules in the final few laps of the race at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Even the timing of the report – released ahead of qualifying for Sunday’s Bahrain GP – was questionable.
The summary was delivered after the World Motor Sport Council met in Bahrain and was chaired by FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem.
It said: “The report finds that the race director was acting in good faith and to the best of his knowledge given the difficult circumstances, particularly acknowledging the significant time constraints for decisions to be made and the immense pressure being applied by the teams.”
Race director Masi came under fire for his decisions in Abu DhabiCredit: Getty
It added: “The process of identifying lapped cars has up until now been a manual one and human error led to the fact that not all cars were allowed to un-lap themselves.”
Crucially, the report finally confirms Verstappen as the 2021 world champion, adding “the results of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the FIA Formula One World Championship are valid, final and cannot now be changed.”
Masi has since been axed from his role – some would argue a key point that is glossed over.
There is no further mention of his future involvement in the organisation but he is a notable absentee from the report, which will raise even more questions.
The report also noted that Masi “called the safety car back into the pit lane without it having completed an additional lap as required by the Formula One Sporting Regulations”.
However, despite admitting the breach, the governing body left wiggle-room by adding that “there could be different interpretations”, which “likely contributed to the applied procedure”.
Finally, in a host of suggested improvements, the report gives the staggering admission that staff did not know the rules.
There were several controversial incidents last season, including the two-lap race at the Belgium GP, which should raise even-more concern for F1, teams and drivers.
The report said: “Additionally, the staff identified the need to improve communications between the FIA office in Geneva and track staff and between the F1 sport and F1 Technical departments.
“They also noted the complexity of the F1 Regulations and the reduction of the duration of consultancy agreements from three years to one year, often resulting in a higher staff turnover and so reduced familiarity with the rules”.