The Twitter campaign demanding that the FIA publicly reveal their findings of their enquiry into the controversial end to the 2021 season is stronger than ever ahead of the new season.
There are now just to days to wait until new FIA President Mohammed ben Sulayem concludes his team’s investigation into the events at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix three months ago, as fans continue to lament the manner in which Sir Lewis Hamilton lost out on his eighth world title.
The Briton had looked set to comfortably beat Max Verstappen to the title after a tremendous season of racing between the pair, but a late crash for Williams’ Nicholas Latifi brought out the Safety Car, leading the Red Bull driver to pit.
That left five lapped runners between the title protagonists, and then race director Michael Masi initially ruled that none of the lapped runners in the field would be given their lap back.
But a brake fire is alleged to have unexpectedly elongated the Safety Car period, putting Masi in a precarious position and, following some interesting conversations with Red Bull during which Christian Horner told him only “one racing lap” was needed, the Australian opted to permit only the five between the leaders go.
This appeared to contravene the sporting regulations, but the key wording states that “any” lapped runners can be allowed through at race control’s discretion, but this had now been changed to “all” lapped runners, leaving no ambiguity as to the necessity to permit every lapped car to go through should there be a decision to award them their lap back.
As a result of the contentious decision, Verstappen was able to pass his rival on the very last lap of the race to claim his maiden championship in one of the most polemic title deciders the pinnacle of motorsport has ever seen.
Former F1 driver Perry McCarthy told Formula1News.co.uk that the decision from the 44-year-old was a “joke,” while Johnny Herbert testified that it was a “twist” of the regulations.
Masi has now been relieved of his duties in a shakeup that includes the arrival of Eduardo Freitas and Niels Wittich as alternating race directors, while Herbie Blash returns to the sport to provide assistance.
‘Fundamentally flawed’ ending
In recent memory, it is difficult to recall a year in which there has still been so much emphasis on the previous season going into the first race, but Hamilton fans are still livid over the 37-year-old’s cruel defeat, and they have been making their voices heard on social media.
“The ending of #AbuDhabiGP was fundamentally flawed with broken rules creating an unfair advantage to a single driver. Why it wasn’t immediately sorted by #f1 and #fia officials is incredulous & can only be explained when they #ReleaseTheFIAReport,” one user tweeted.
“Dear FIA, the 2021 F1 season ended in a #F1xed race – you fired the RD Masi as a result. You can save 2022 and restore integrity to the sport by #VoidLap58 and #ReleaseTheFIAReport for transparency,” said another.
Some are aware that the likelihood of last year’s championship being reversed stands at practically zero, but they would like to see the FIA address the race in December to maintain the sport’s integrity.
“We’re waiting #ReleaseTheFIAReport to come out. I don’t expect closure but hope for some clarity & transparency. No matter where our team starts, those who love him know how hard he’ll work to lead the team forward. Will be a privilege to watch him,” said a fan.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has recently indicated that he has no intention of speaking to Masi again having told him at the time that his decision was “so not right,” while Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner maintains that the 44-year-old did not break any regulations.