F1’s midfield runners left “speechless” and confused by controversial late restart

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Several of Formula 1’s midfield racers criticised race control’s handling of the last-lap restart in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Confusion broke out over the final minutes of the race as drivers were initially told those who were a lap down would not be given the opportunity to rejoin the lead lap. Then on the penultimate lap five of the eight drivers who were a lap down – those running between race leader Lewis Hamilton and second-placed Max Verstappen – were allowed to do so.

This decision had ramifications for several midfield drivers. Daniel Ricciardo and Lance Stroll, who finished 12th and 13th, were among those denied the opportunity to rejoin the lead lap.

Stroll alerted his team to the fact drivers were passing the Safety Car before he was informed what was happening. He made his frustration clear when informed by race engineer Ben Michell he was not allowed to join other drivers in passing the Safety Car.

“Not us, stay where you are, Safety Car is in this lap,” Michell advised him. “I don’t understand why,” Stroll replied, “I should be able to overtake the Safety Car.”

“What the fuck?” continued the irate driver as Michell said he would explain the situation after the race.

Ricciardo’s race was also compromised by the restart. His race engineer Tom Stallard called race control’s decision “a bit unusual” and told his driver after the race: “We finished P12 at the end. Obviously not enough laps and with the other cars being allowed to go after the Safety Car, then that pit stop didn’t help.”

Ricciardo said he had “no idea what they did with letting cars through.” After returning to parc ferme he added: “I’m glad I am not a part of that, whatever just happened. Seemed pretty fucked up.”

Speaking to media after the race Ricciardo was at a loss to explain why only certain cars had been allowed to un-lap themselves.

“I was confused because I got that message that they won’t overtake,” Ricciardo said. “So in my head I thought ‘that seems okay and I guess fair because Lewis had such a lead and Max has newer tyres – and this way he has to cut through a few cars if they’re going to restart the race’.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“Then I saw some cars overtake, so I asked ‘What do I do? Do I pass?’. And then I think Tom said ‘no, you have to stay here’.”

“I’m honestly just speechless,” Ricciardo added. “I don’t know what to make of all that, I really don’t. I need to see how it all came about.”

The next car in line for the restart was the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz Jnr. He was holding onto third place, and was confused to see the cars between him and Verstappen were not un-lapping themselves.

“What are these two guys doing?” he asked race engineer Riccardo Adami as he queued behind Stroll and Ricciardo. “They are not un-lapping themselves, they need to go.”

Some drivers who were given the wave-around on the penultimate lap were also perplexed by the decision, including Fernando Alonso, who finished eighth.

“When the Safety Car was out, I thought that we were able to overtake quickly, because normally [this] is what happens. You see the green light of the Safety Car immediately, and then you are un-lapping yourself until they remove the car,” Alonso said.

“But we didn’t have that lap, that green signal, and then two laps after the engineer told me, ‘You will not be able to un-lap yourself, the positions will stay like this.’

“One corner later, the green light came on, I said, ‘But we have the green light’. And he said ‘Yeah, you can do it now, follow Norris. And I followed Norris’. A little bit confusing, probably.”

Vettel complained the decision to let the lapped cars pass the Safety Car did not happen sooner, leaving those who were waved by too little time to catch up. “They should’ve let us pass right away, like other times,” he said.

“Obviously you have the guys fighting in the front, so you just got to clear the path. I don’t know what took so long. For us it was a shame because we didn’t have a race then because everything was just spread out.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Browse all 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix articles

Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

194 comments on “F1’s midfield runners left “speechless” and confused by controversial late restart”

  1. I’m still confused about it. The last lap of the last race seems a strange point of the season to implement new rules around safety car restarts. Really bizarre.

    1. Whilst I think there is zero chance of the Championship winner being changed at this point, it is interesting to read how much confusion Masi’s decision caused.

      I believe he tried to do what he thought was the right thing, not to favour Red Bull, but to have the title decided on track. But he inadvertently interfered in the entire race result, not just who came 1st and 2nd.

      As soon as they give all competitors the “no overtaking allowed” message, which they clearly issued because they realised there wasn’t time to have lapped cars unlap themselves (the only two options given in 48.12), they should have stuck with that call. It’s clearly within the rules and gives Max that one final chance.

      The timing of the incident was unfortunate, in the sense that one lap earlier and cars could have unlapped and Max takes a lucky but easy victory, one lap later and race finished behind the safety car. But it doesn’t change the fact that Masi knew he had to implement the “no overtaking” restart, and then subverted it with a made-up hybrid that disadvantaged numerous drivers.

      This can all be traced back to “for the show” mentality Liberty Media have pushed, seemingly at the expense of clear and consistent rules. Hopefully they remedy it for next season, because F1 deserves better.

      1. Broadsword to Danny Boy
        13th December 2021, 9:21

        “I believe he tried to do what he thought was the right thing, not to favour Red Bull”

        How on earth he could think putting Max on brand new softs right behind Lewis who is on hards that had done 40 laps was “not favoring Red Bull”. There is no way on Earth that is what he was thinking!

        To be honest I thought Max on those tyres had a pretty good shot at it with just a handful of back markers between them. And that way Masi could have pointed to the regulations and said to both Red Bull and Mercedes that it was written in the rules: it’s either that or they unlapped all the backmarkers and time ran out. Instead he ripped up the regulations and did what RB wanted, which was give Max a massive advantage.
        Nobody wants to see races won under safety car, but It didn’t need to end under the SC, they could have just pulled it in without any unlapping, and in the circumstances that was without doubt the fairest way to both drivers, although arguably still more beneficial to Max who came out of it with brand new tyres and a significantly reduced gap to the lead, compared to before before the safety car when he had next to no chance.

        Looking forward to hearing Horner’s conversation with Masi during the SC. I didn’t get it all during the race as so I don’t know if they played it all, or if the commentary went over it. Any links?

      2. @simon999 I have to agree with you. I’ve been giving Masi the benefit of the doubt, but he’s made a real mess of this decision. He should have let all the lapped cars unlap themselves, or none. He seems to have done what he did as a special circumstance to allow “racing” on the last lap, but that makes a mockery of having a rulebook in the first place, and effectively handed the race to Max on his much better tyres.

        Max is good enough to be a champion, he didn’t just luck into this one, but it’s a horrible way to win it.

        1. That’s the strange thing about this particular situation. There’s no driver or team to attribute any blame to at all. Both drivers produced a great season and both are worthy of being crowned champion.

          Whilst I think it’s almost certain Hamilton wins if no cars unlapped themselves (and a certainty if they all do), given there was only one lap left, we can’t know for sure. I’ve always been a Hamilton fan, but there would be no justice in taking the title away from Max.

          The FIA needs to be made to feel a lot of pain from this. The cumulative effect of their neglect.

          1. +1

            Hamilton fan here, but feel that his performances in the last four races were arguably the best of his career.

            But Max deserves the title based on that race 7 to 18 form, which has to be as good as anyone who’s ever won it

          2. Sos did Hamilton! Max only had the lead not as a virtue of driving but he got aided by the race director.3 occasions in a row, decisions made to later race result to favor Redbul. This can’t be coincidence.

            Ham had earned to win the race fair an square. There was no chance of max finishing the race ahead under normal legal procedures that has been followed up until the last lap. Then miracle happened defying logic and legal precedents and gave a max a massive unfair illegal advantage. It is not fair only for max to be given chance, what about other lapped cars? What about last race, everyone pit correctly then red flag unfairly. Why not red flag instantly as could be seen race was gonna obviouslu finish under sc with correct legal proceedings. Why not give the chance to everyone to chance tyres and get a standing start. Let them race once again and best one win?noone would complain including Mercedes. Massive game fixing happened in the very last min, I m sure apart from apparent max win, there were so many illegal bets were going on… This is undeniable now. Masi saying give me one sec checking the odds probably… There is no fair 9r legal ground for massi and FIA to stand on. Decision to be fair and neutral was breached, safety was ignored other driver’s rights breached. One guy only guy was given massive advantage to have an unfair race end. No ifs and buts about it, everyone saw it. Decision was made, and someone requested a favor and they granted it without any regards to everyone around.

          3. “ no option but to ‘finish’ the race under yellow condition handing Lewis the title.”

            Think this might be difficult in court, then I think it would be either dis regard this race from the championship or re-do the race

      3. F1 could remove DRS first, but I don’t think they will.

      4. @simon999 that is for the CAS to decide, Daimler has got a a solid case and if the decision goes their way there would be no option but to ‘finish’ the race under yellow condition handing Lewis the title.

        Biggest problem where masi incriminates himself massively is ONLY allowing cars in front of max to unlap themselves and no other cars in attempt to give him an unfair advantage being directly behind lewis for the last lap sprint restart , the argument why its unfair is because other cars like 3rd place carlos did not receive the same treatment that competitors expect from race control and couldn’t potentially challenge max at the restart due to traffic.
        Masi couldn’t allow ALL cars to unlap earlier because track workers was still clearing the track so you cant have ‘unlapped’ traffic driving at race speed near them, masi also realized that if the race restarted with unlapped cars in place Lewis could easily gap max early as he would sprint to start the last lap whilst max was ‘stuck’ behind lapped cars and cant overtake them until he crosses the line, this would almost certainly make Lewis the winner because he could build a tiny but crucial gap, this option wasn’t chosen because imo race control did not want lewis to win so did not attempt conventional means to restart the race.
        To add more if Masi allowed ALL cars to unlap themselves after the hazard was cleared the race would finish under yellow as the sc cannot come in until one lap after the last lapped car passes, again race control did not do this because imo they did not want lewis to win.
        This is why you have this bizarre made up rule where some cars can unlap but not others.
        race control wanted Max to have the BEST opportunity to challenge lewis at all costs for at least 1 green lap, they panicked when they realized the laps was running out and hastily made up non existent rules.

        Where Mercedes have a great case is that they can easily prove thanks to discovery that race control conspired to deliberately meddle in the race and artificially make new rules on the fly to
        a) force one last green lap running regardless of standard protocol
        b) artificially place max in the best place to challenge Lewis in the restart whilst other competitors did not receive the same treatment.

        1. +1.

          Masi manipulated the rules to give Horner his “miracle”.

        2. Stephen Thompson
          13th December 2021, 13:53

          I can’t see Merc appeal working, since when do the FIA allow something that will prove they don’t know what they are doing :(

          I wanted Lewis to win the race and championship and he was comfortably doing that until the mess at the end.

    2. Max: Netflix champion

      1. Thats not fair mate.
        Max had nothing to do with the final decision and is clearly an incredible driver.
        Im a Lewis fan, and i feel he wronged by Masi, but Lewis would have taken that result as well if the Masi handed it to him how he handed it to Max.
        I would like to think that i would still argue that Masi messed it up and that Max would be the deserving winner if roles were reversed, but obviously i cant prove this.
        Either way, the problem is with the FIA, you cant blame Max or Lewis for anything in that last race.

        1. It completely is fair. Lewis would be champion if the race hadn’t been manipulated for artificial entertainment. Max didn’t deserve the championship as he was nowhere near in the race.

        2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          13th December 2021, 13:39

          Sorry, Max’s driving has been more erratic than my daughter’s who just got her driver’s permit. He’s literally not following the road when he’s racing and heading in all kinds of unexpected directions. Lewis’s racing moves are smooth and dynamic like a panther’s compared to Max’s 1980s Pole Position broken-line type of driving.

          1. not only that, even ham was loosing, he didnt seem once to drive in a collusion course. max from start to finish, races like there is no tomorrow, and has zero care/thought about what can/could/would happen! he doesnt think and act, he acts and think or not later… all his career is like this, i thought for a few races he was in a good direction, but he just goes back to his roots and continues crash or run away, it is my race my corner noone allowed to take it from me… and worst part is that masi allowed/enabled him for so long!

        3. Maybe not Max directly but don’t forget RB’s extreme lobbying over the radio, and RB is Max, Max is RB. I cant imagine Netflix taking that exchange out of the film… or will they?
          Masi is the 1st ever non-driver participant to win the driver championship.

        4. @Scottdog – the drivers are almost irrelevant, Race control are supposed to be impartial. If they did this to Max (favouring Hamilton) I’d have been equally peeved. If the FIA get away with doing this (and they probably will) what’s the point?

          I’m still deliberating if I want to continue with following F1.. hate it when situations like this unfold, always the actions of one to spoil it for the masses.

  2. Funny how Lando says it’s always a 50/50 decision while all the other drivers here said they were expecting to be allowed to unlap themselves.

    1. 50 – 50 to unlap or not.
      Not 50% or less of lapped cars.

  3. Seems like a lot of the midfield drivers felt that the lapped cars should have been let by sooner, which is probably right. Race control boxed themselves in a bit with their premature “lapped cars won’t be allowed to overtake” message and it took time to sort out. However the right decision was made in the end to ensure we finished under green flag conditions – just a shame there wasn’t enough time to allow them all through.

      13th December 2021, 7:16

      Due to leaving back markers between 2nd and 3rd meant that sainz could not challenge for a chance to win or come second.
      This shows it was orchestrated and definitely was not fair. Due to that it was not the correct outcome to the race going by the rules.
      I think that is clear to see. Anyone that had money on the race has a right to feel robbed and will be interesting when it goes to cas.
      I can not see the wdc being overturned as max and redbull did nothing wrong but I can see merc taking this all they way to paint the fia (Liberty media) in the bad light it deserves and pursue being compensated.

      1. Other teams should follow suit and point to the numerous times the fia has benefited Mercedes to the detriment of the sport during the hybrid era. On balance they’ve still been incredibly favored by the fia this era and only lost this year because Hamilton isn’t on Max’s level

        1. You are another one of those people who constantly claim when Max wins it is all him and when Lewis wins it is the car. You people can never be convinced. Lewis was just as good as Max this year. A few more mistakes than Max granted but they are on the same level. Also can you provide facts in black and white pertaining to the FIA Bias towards Merc? I don’t want hearsay I want cold hard facts in the form of documents, behind the scene conversations etc. I don’t think you can provide these so it is just your own opinion which counts for nothing.

          1. No, lewis had a faster car and was still only in contention because he and his teammate wrecked max. His critics were proven right–he only wins with a huge car advantage or weak competition like massa. The ‘greatest of all time’ doesn’t lose the wdc with a car that wins the wcc. Very satisfying to see the only driver ever disqualified for lying to the stewards cheat and still lose

        2. Give us the cases please.

          Remember they need to be as obvious as Masi’s breach of the rules yesterday.

          Don’t expect to hear from you

          1. Mexico 2016, Germany 2018, Canada 2019, Bahrain 2021. Four races gifted to Hamilton by the fia off the top of my head.
            Let’s not forget 2017 rule change to address Mercedes weakness, 2018 tire compounds change, 2019 banning Ferrari’s engine, DAS (which would’ve been banned if a competitor developed it).
            Any team without a British lead driver wouldve been targeted by the fia like they did Ferrari in the early aughts by the regs

        3. @realnigelmansell you cant be any more wrong and hypocritical then you already are… hybridization came from renault to begin with to stay in the sport and be relative to commercial market with the tech it would bring!!!

          Renault who was supplying redbul the engines! please come again with your nonsensical anology… it is always same with redbul, if it benefits them, it is perfectly legal and ok, if not it must be cheating!

    2. So, is it fair that, as pointed out in the article, most of those further down the field had their race compromised?

      If there wasn’t enough time, you can’t change the rules in an arbitrary fashion to get the results you want, and do so in a way that arbitrarily disadvantages many others in the process.

      Max was the only one who gained from that decision – most of the rest of the field was put at a disadvantage by that call. Why should he benefit at the expense of everyone else?

      1. But Bottas was passed by two At, so they had no problem with it.
        Sainz did not even tried.

        1. Because the AT only had Schumacher (who promptly got out of the way on the start/finish line) between them and Bottas, and there was nobody between Bottas and Sainz, yet Sainz had Ricciardo and Stroll in front of him, and Stroll didn’t let them pass until turn 5.

        2. So, because your team won, everyone else can get screwed over? You really don’t care for the sport, do you – all you want is to win at any price, and everyone else must be made to pay for it.

          1. +1 thank you…

            redbul and redbul fans are summed up perfectly…

            worst part was horner uttering: “we” redbully need only one lap. masi: your wish is my command here you are, everyone else stay put…

            unbelievable double standards, what is worse they even abused and mis used the word any = all and changed it to mean not quite all or just any car we like as a defence! this is disgrace for the sport.

            The Race Director stated that the purpose of Article 48.12 was to remove those lapped cars that would “interfere” in the racing between the leaders and that in his view Article 48.13 was the one that applied in this case.
            This was even more disgusting because there were 20 drivers racing! Are they not allowed to race fairly? The rule applied in a way to only benefit single person out of all the 20 (18 after 2 cars retirement!)

            This ruling at the end cant stand in the court if the justice to be served. Otherwise the justice is a yoke, like Alonso said once, but hope palmer will be found and karma will be served!

      2. +1.

    3. It really wasn’t the right decision frankly. They should have stuck with their original decision rather this half assed which gave us this farce.

  4. Universal condemnation. Quality stuff. GPDA should get involved, the time for being quiet and pretending FIA have everything under control is over. They’re being pressured by F1 to make things more exciting, being pressured by teams to influence results and penalties. Someone needs to apply the pressure to have sporting integrity, lord knows they’re not listening to the fans.

    1. Agree, but integrity seems to have lost hold throughout the world these days. It is more important to be represented on social media and be “liked” than it is to be real these days. Sad times all the way around. F1 was an escape from the ridiculous reality hat we are faced with from our world leaders. Now it has been compromised too.

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      13th December 2021, 13:42

      Yeah, the drivers need to stand against this ruling as it was clearly unfair. This could happen to any of them. It was an unacceptable end of a race and championship.

      1. The Race Director stated that the purpose of Article 48.12 was to remove those lapped cars that would “interfere” in the racing between the leaders and that in his view Article 48.13 was the one that applied in this case.

        Can you believe the justification? This ignores everyone else on the track to just benefit a single person, who did have no business in that attempt being 12 seconds behind twice! if he really had a chance he should have been behind ham’s neck whole race… than they could call this a clear justification… nope, only one person to benefit when he had otherwise 0 chance of coming through even he had a rocket ship under neath him, as ham would buzz away at the start!

  5. Is the reason they couldn’t let them through sooner because the track wasn’t clear and you can’t have a handful of cars going round faster than safety car pace to rejoin the back?

    Who was behind Sainz? Were they denied an opportunity to fight for a podium on the last lap because there were lapped cars in the way?

    1. It was Yuki, so RBR are unlikely to find an issue with that, but other drivers were affected.
      Even Sainz lost a chance at P2 or even a victory.
      This ruling was only made for x2 cars in an entire field, and thats what is not fair.
      Points mean money, and that is why the rules are specifically written in the way they are written, and not in a way that only considers those fighting for the title.
      Whoever wrote the rules the way they are would have considered this, only to be undone by 1 silly decision by the RD.

      1. Thanks, I wasn’t quite sure how it played out with lapped cars between other drivers fighting for position. They may have well instructed the rest of the field to peel off into the pitlane and let the 2 cars go round by themselves. Awful stuff.

        1. Button won Canada after a safety car from last position. All drivers should have the potential to win the race after the safety car returns to the pit.
          Masi made sure only one car could win it and denied the other trans and drivers.

          1. At least two cars could win. But I get it when you think max is the better driver so it’s a slam dunk. But theoretically two could win, and Sainz when he wad able to pass the others cars with blue flags. He did not even tried it BTW.

          2. @erikje

            Theoretically all cars could win, very very very low chances but theoretically any car remaining in the race on the last lap could win.

            But actually only one car could win after Masi’s decision and it did win.

          3. Exactly: Hamilton had next to no chance to defend against Max with his fresh tyres. This was a much more extreme difference than Hamilton vs Perez earlier, and Hamilton would have known then he didn’t have to overtake immediately, whereas on the last lap of the race…

            Masi handed the win to Max on a silver platter, creating rules on the fly which gave him the best chance. I’m not suggesting he did it to let Max win, but that was always going to be the results of going green with no lapped runners between them in that circumstance. Had it been done in compliance with the rules, that’s fair enough, though gutting for Lewis, but this was not.

        2. Yes, this exactly. Farcical.

        3. Exactly. Race Control had total lack of consideration of the rest of the field.
          If we want proper WWE rules, then lets just put them on the grid by themselves for 1 lap with both having fresh soft tyres. It would make just as much sense as what happened on Sunday.
          At least make it fair if you are going to change the rules on the last lap of the last race of the season.
          It must be said, that this is of no fault of Max or RBR, they both do deserve the title, but unfortunately this race was title deciding, and this race was not run fairly.
          The win though was not made by the overtake Max pulled off, however good it was, it was decided by Race Control. It was won because of ‘strategy’. and in my view, according to the regulations, Mercedes made the right call, as there were only 2 viable options according to regulations, start with the lapped cars in place, or let them all by and start the race on the following lap, but we somehow go a 3rd option which isn’t in the rules anywhere.
          If Lewis pitted and was behind Max on older tyres, I would say the same thing.
          i’ve said it before. F1 is about all the teams on the grid and not just the front 2, and this ruling was made for only the front 2 cars.
          They say this is all in the name of going racing, but they were happy to award wins and points for a race that didnt even happen in Spa

          1. Fergus sings the blues
            13th December 2021, 11:10

            Post of the year @ScottDog. Spot on analysis of the situation.

            I think Merc needs to pursue this for the good of the sport otherwise there is a danger that this becomes WWE. Having a referee who can change the rules for the benefit of the show is open to corruption and goes against sporting integrity. Either the FIA sort this out in house or it should be taken to Cas to sort, either way we cannot allow Masi or his replacement (I see a resignation or termination in the near future) being allowed to influence a race or championship in such a fashion.

            The two viable options would make Hamilton champion – the hybrid “illegal” option meant the referee decided the championship unfairly.

            The same is also true for stewards choosing not to investigate an incident mid race – if there is no new evidence then they do not re-open the case. This is also open to abuse, corruption and for the ‘benefit of the show’. In a properly run sport you cannot have this level of opaqueness, open to normal human bias.

      2. It was Bottas in 4th. Tsunoda and Gasly both passed him on the last lap. Red Bull definitely had no complaints with that!

        1. And that’s because it wad rigged too of course

    2. They were probably trying to gift lewis yet another sham win. Thankfully they did the right thing in the end

      1. And there you go again. Sham win, the guy dominated the entire race passing your so call Super Max at the start on harder tyres. Poor Max needed his mate Checo to hold Lewis up while he caught up. People are quick to criticize Lewis when Bottas helped him but when Checo does it then it somehow ampifies how amazing Max is. The real sham are fans like you regardless of who you support and you ill thought comments.

        Also last I checked it was Masi buckling under pressure from Horner “we only need one lap” and then allowing Max with fresh tyres to attack Lewis on 45 lap old tyres. The cheek of Masi to claim it was racing. I gurarntee you had the tables been turned the race would have ended under SC.

        1. First everybody says perez helped a lot

          second, you do understand that the first mistake was to forbid the drivers to overtake, like ricciardo said above, which means this incoherent decision favors mercedes ….
          then the change of ruling was way more in line with the usual handling, but 2 laps to late….

      2. Rob are you the latest WUM?

    3. Broadsword to Danny Boy
      13th December 2021, 9:27

      Several cars further back didn’t unlap and therefore weren’t able to race the ones that should have been in front of them for a chance of points, e.g. Ricciardo I think.

  6. Perez could disrupt Hamilton’s race because they followed the rules all race. On the final lap, no one was allowed to disrupt Max’s race that is special race condition. It is a fraud.
    They denied other drivers from Sainz to last place the chance of winning the race.
    Masi effectively turned it into two racing categories. F1-A and F1-B.

    1. They wouldn’t be allowed to disrupt Max’s race like Checo because they were not on the lead lap. they would have all been shown blue flags and told to get out of the way. Checo did absolutely what any other teammate should do. I wonder if Max could have caught Lewis if those lapped cars would have just moved let Max through after the blue flags. Would he have caught him by the last turn instead of on turn 5?

      1. ham would have started differently and fly off into the distance before max was able to step on it! lapped cars sure would pull aside to let max pass, but with even a rocket engine, he would not make that gap by the end, maybe 2-3 laps sure, but in 1 lap after the start with no drs! only slipstream? close to impossible! unless he had one guy after the other line up and give him slipstream to sling shot him into space!

    2. Never looked on it that way, but it’s an even bigger stink now!

  7. Masi invented a duel ignoring written and usually applied rules which Mercedes certainly factored-in when they decided not to pit Lewis. I can’t blame Red Bull for crying for a decision that suits their interest but it’s up to FIA to do it by the book.

    the combination of (i) not all lapped cars given the chance to overtake SC and join the lead lap and (ii) SC in before the usual time looks like a tailored made decision after Horner call saying “we need 1 lap”.

    1. They only put themselves in this position because they were trying to gift lewis the race by not letting the cars unlap themselves, then got in a time crunch. Everyone is so used to lewis getting special treatment anything else feels weird

      1. Rob, I believe Mercedes was counting on the rules when they made their call. It’s like a football match the ref changes the rule by saying a red carded player can be replaced and no offsides will be called against his team to guarantee a dramatic end. I would accept that in WWE or reality TV, not in a sport with rules that are supposed to be predictable.

        1. So, Mercedes made a choice and a wto g one for that. So now masi is to blame of course.

          1. Erickje.

            Do you think that Masi’s decision was fair on all he field?

            If you do. Explain how not letting Sainz fairly battle Max for 2nd (or 1st) was OK

            Can you answer for once, as all you do is leave pithy anti-Hamilton / Merc comments. For once, join in a debate.

          2. @banbrorace

            Can you answer for once, as all you do is leave pithy anti-Hamilton / Merc comments. For once, join in a debate.

            To (badly) translate a Spanish saying: “You’re trying to get pears from an elm”.

      2. As well, if Max didnt pit he wouldnt have been left with all those lapped cars between himself and Lewis.
        They had 2 options:
        1) They start the race with lapped cars in place, which considering they wanted to get the race going would have been fair to all drivers in the field.
        2) They let lapped cars unlap themselves, which according to regulations would never leave enough time for the race to restart.
        Mercedes made the correct strategic call according to the regulations, there was no way Max was going to have a go at Lewis without the involvement of Michael Masi.

        1. @ScottDog
          And what would have prevented them from unlapping all cars earlier?
          I think the main mistake was giving the order that no one is allowed to unlap. They realised the mistake and had to go to a half baked solution to get to the right result: resume the race.

          1. Broadsword to Danny Boy
            13th December 2021, 9:29

            Debris and/or workers on the track!

            The unlapping cars have to exceed SC speed!

          2. Because the track was still live with marshals? If you haven’t got a problem having cars doing their own thing at different points around the track you don’t need a safety car and would use a VSC.

          3. They didn’t unlap cars earlier because there were people on the track clearing Latifis car

        2. Wrong, max already cleared all the cars before his pitstop.
          If they did not pitted he would have been the second car behind Lewis with newer tires. Still a good position. Red bull gambled on a late lap and they did good.
          Mercedes made the wrong choice and lost.

          1. But he did pit, and then the race director changed the rules to nullify the disadvantage he caused himself.

          2. Hardly a gamble. He had nothing to lose. He was 11 seconds a lap behind and lapping at around the same pace despite being on far fresher tyres.
            I keep seeing people say Red Bull won with their ‘strategy’. They did not. They were squarely beaten on pace. They had no answer to the Mercedes and Hamilton. All decisions around strategy were free punts, all had nothing to lose because of the gap back to 3rd place.

            Perez was the only one who tried and almost had an effect on the race, by parking up on the apex’s blocking Hamilton. Once cleared, Hamilton then easily pulled away again. His early ‘retirement’ was laughable though. Pretty certain he was under-fuelled in order to stay with the front two and have an affect on the race. Quite inventive of Red Bull to pull that, the way Perez responded to the request to retire suggests he wasn’t in on the plan as he sounded surprised as everything was running fine according to his senses.

        3. Does that mean Masi can receive an Assistant World Champion trophy?

          That would only seem fitting in the new Made For TV Racing Farce Series.

    2. @jcost @realnigelmansell It was an odd one for sure. Still Mercedes could have pitted Lewis and get behind Verstappen and try to overtake because in that race they clearly had a faster pace. Still Hamilton opened the door for Verstappen in the final lap and let him through. I was expecting more from Hamilton as it was the final round.

  8. According to the rule “once the last lapped car has passed the leader the safety car will return to the pits at the end of the following lap”.
    The last two words of that phrase are key. In its rush to get the race restarted, F1 waved the five cars between the two title contenders though on the same lap that the safety car entered the pits. Had the rule been followed as it is written, the race would not have restarted as the safety car would have entered the pits on the last lap of the race.

    1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      13th December 2021, 9:10

      Reading the decision because a different rule was adhered to it over-rides the rule that was broken so in the minds of the FIA everything is correct and proper.

      It needs all teams who feel wronged to make a protest to get Masi sorted out once and for all.

      1. Removing Masi should have been done a long time ago, but the illegitimate result would still stand. Masi’s rigging of the match needs to be removed as a priority.

      2. But saying the fia judged it did nothing wrong and followed its own rules is the same as you being on the jury of your own trial. Your never going to give your self a guilty verdict.
        The steward / rd is there to judge on rule and regs breaches by the teams not themselves. This will go to cas for independent arbitration.
        I can not see an overturning of the decision as I don’t see max or redbull did anything wrong but merc have to do it to get clarity or fia will keep behaving in this manner.
        Let’s be honest it’s not a good look for f1 no matter who you support and to any new comer it looked like a rigged farce.

  9. If their intention was to ensure at least one lap of racing, why didn’t they red flag the race with three laps to go? They couldn’t follow the usual procedures with the time they had to use, and ended up given one driver a tremendous advantage with how they dealt with it.

    They should rule out the event from the championship. Means it’s a tie, Max still wins on count back and the record books will at least show what a debacle they turned F1 into.

    What a farce 🤷‍♂️

    1. So bending the rules in favour of Lewis is no problem. I get it :)

      1. It is clear, for you, only rules should be bent to favour Max.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      13th December 2021, 12:26

      A red flag wasn’t required and doing so would hand Hamilton a huge advantage as he was on much older tyres. Whatever decision they made would have been unfair to one driver.

      The main issue here is that there shouldn’t be a list of options for Masi to pick – there should be a clear procedure to follow in all circumstances. “If the safety car is deployed with x laps remaining, the race is red flagged. Any change of tyres incurs a 5 place grid drop for the restart.” Simple, fair and can be applied consistently every time. You could add “at the start of the 2nd lap behind the safety car, lapped cars may unlap themselves. They must drive at a delta speed per sector.” This would mean there’s no decision on when to allow cars to unlap – they can go on the 2nd lap and can catch back up – the sector where the incident has taken place can have a very slow delta time or you could say between certain points, the pit lane speed limiter has to be engaged to ensure they slow sufficiently.

      We’re in this situation because the rules aren’t tight enough and this is a problem we’ve known about for years. Far too much is subjective and isn’t measurable. Track limits, safety cars, drivers slowing down to start their quali lap, drivers pushing each other off… These should all have simple, measurable rules in place and just like the weight of the car or the amount of fuel, you can apply the rules and come out with a clear result that no-one can disagree with.

      I appreciate that’s an idealistic view and you’ll have incidents that aren’t clear but it would resolve 90% of the issues with the rules we have today.

      1. @petebaldwin but EVERY decision running up to the restart went Max’s way so how is that fair to other drivers not only Lewis? Carlos was disadvantaged because lapped car was not moved out of the way hence he couldn’t potentially challenge max.

        Masi only ordered lapped cars sandwiched between max and Lewis to get out of the way to give max the best possible chance of overtaking Lewis when everyone else is stuck behind lapped cars. How is that fair to other drivers?

        It feels like merc was in a checkmate situation. if they brought Lewis in rb would keep max out for position and masi would end the race under yellows..It was the right call to be cautious and keep lewis out(especially after the Saudi delayed red flag joke) because it looked like the race would finish under yellows or possibly one lap with lapped traffic in place(Lewis would win as max cant overtake lapped cars under the restart and Lewis could sprint early to start the last lap and gain valuable seconds breathing room ) but they didn’t realize that masi invented new rules on the fly to move lapped cars that was ONLY in front of max out of the way so he was right behind lewis on fresh softs… again how is that “fair”?

        I hope the FIA have a good legal team when this goes to court because it looks like a slam dunk win for Mercedes to reverse the race result.

      2. @petebaldwin

        I don’t think the issue is lack of rules, but lack of enforcement. We do have rules regarding track limits, anything beyond the white line is not the track. But it’s not enforced consitently: sometimes it is, other times just in specific corners, that may well change throughout the weekend. We do have rules regarding drivers slowing down, they have a minimum delta time to adhere to. It’s just not enforced consistently.

        Regarding safety cars, it’s arguably one of the things that can be measured. You might have an incident where a driver crashed into a barrier and the car and all the debris is in a small section of the track, or you can have an incident where two drivers crashed into each other and they’re leaving bits of their cars throughout the track on their way back to the pits. These would need different consideration, and the safety car periods would probably be quite different in duration. Let’s not forget that we didn’t have VSC until Bianchi’s fatal accident, I wouldn’t want any change in the rules to improve the show at the expense of safety.

        I don’t think anyone would argue that, had this not been the last race (and a title decider, at that), the race would’ve ended peacefully under SC conditions. Brazil 2012 was the last race, a title decider, and it ended under SC conditions. Can you imagine Horner’s reaction if someone had told him then “Yeah, we don’t want the title decided under SC, so we’re red flagging the race and then restarting it for two laps so Seb and Fernando can fight it out on track.”?

      3. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
        13th December 2021, 15:59

        Nicely put. The only thing I would add is that rules are not going to cover every situation as each will have its own nuances. There needs to be some element of flexibility for Race Control to manage unique situations on track though. I think to some degree 48.13 sort of gave Masi the authority to do what he did but its not entirely clear. I think Masi was trying to do the right thing but time was against him so he was just trying to expedite the process (you can understand Mercs frustration here). His decision helped some while hurt others. I am also curious how much lobbying the team principles where doing throughout this SC period and how that could have impacted what should have been timely decisions to get issued. I mean look at Jedah when Max was told to let Lewis past, but Lewis had no knowledge of it until after they hit.

        Me personally thinks that this was just bad timing and bad luck for Merc and Lewis. I don’t really have issue with getting the lapped cars out of the way for the top runners in general. When you look over the entire season, Lewis and Merc benefited from various situations and they pulled the short straw this time around. It hurts more because this time was the title deciding situation. I don’t believe Masi plays favorites, just that he lacks the ability to control situations and has proven time and time again that he’s not cut out for this job.

  10. I fully understand that Masi didn’t want the championship to be decided behind the safety car. This season was far too good to have a anticlimax like that at the end. On the other hand, there is this rule, or common feature, that drivers are allowed to unlap themselves behind the SC. I believe that Masi wanted both, but he ran out of time. I think it would have been fairer to have no drivers be allowed to lap themselves, but then the last lap would have been a massacre with drivers desperately trying to get out of Max’s way but also trying to gain positions. Entertaining yes, but also controversial.

    I think that the semi-decision to allow half of the field to unlap themselves was the wrong (split second) call in the end and I can imagine how robbed Hamilton and Mercedes must feel.

    1. And it’s not like Max would be forced to recover to a striking distance he was before the crash, Max was 12 sec behind. All had to do was follow the rule book, it’s not Lewis fault that there was no time left to let everybody unlap themselves.