Former Formula 1 driver Martin Brundle has warned the FIA that they need to take their investigation into the closing events of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix seriously.
Mercedes and many fans were aggrieved when race director Michael Masi opted to allow a limited number of lapped runners past the Safety Car late on in December, despite having ruled that none of them would go through only four minutes earlier.
This allowed Max Verstappen, who had bolted on fresh rubber, to pass his rival Sir Lewis Hamilton for his maiden world championship.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was on the radio to Masi to tell him that the finish was “so not right,” before the Brackley-based team would eventually drop an appeal against the championship classification.
The FIA have begun an investigation into what happened in the four minutes between Masi’s contradictory decisions. Since then, the Silver Arrows have reportedly denied reports that the rescindment was contingent on the dismissal of Masi and FIA head of single-seater technical matters Nikolas Tombazis.
Brundle fears that the Australian may end up as being the scapegoat for the FIA, but wants the organisation as a whole to absorb learnings from the controversial season finale mast month.
“He might be the sacrificial lamb,” said Brundle on Sky’s F1 show.
“What’s really important here for the FIA and for Formula 1 is that this is not swept under the carpet and just left for a few weeks and then overtaken by the new 2022 cars, and the tests, and what have you.”
“We need to understand what happened and why it won’t happen again.”
The Briton stresses that the integrity of the sport needs to be kept intact to retain the fans’ trust.
“We need to reassure the fans that what they are seeing is for real, genuine, and that they are giving up their free time to watch something that is a genuine competition,” he emphasised.
Rumours have spread concerning Hamilton’s potential retirement from F1 since the polemic finale, but Brundle has recently joined the likes of Verstappen and new FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem in opining that the seven-time world champion will stay.
The 2022 campaign kicks off on 20 March at the Bahrain Grand Prix, two days after the governing body finish their investigation.