Formula 1’s board said on Thursday it will announce in March, on the eve of the opening race in Bahrain, the outcome of an investigation into last season’s controversial Abu Dhabi final.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the 2021 title after a change in safety car routines allowed him to overtake Lewis Hamilton on the last lap and denied the Mercedes a record eighth title.
The FIA realized last month that hype was tainting the championship’s image and said it would conduct a thorough analysis with all teams and drivers to be consulted.
Lewis Hamilton (left) was denied the Formula One title when Max Verstappen pushed him to the race line in crucial Abu Dhabi after a controversial call by Formula One race director Michael Massey.
Hamilton was denied his hard-earned victory, and a record eighth championship, when the race resumed after the safe cars stage and Red Bull’s Verstappen tapped the new tires he was driving – a strategic choice – to win the last lap. .
Hamilton, 37, has since refused to commit to the remainder of his two-year contract with Mercedes.
Should the FIA rule in Hamilton’s favour, the powers that be could reward the Mercedes star with his eighth record-breaking championship, given how he drove the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on the last lap before controversy erupted.
However, while it is accepted that Hamilton would have likely won the race if Massey had not modified the rules, it would be highly controversial to strip Verstappen of his first-ever driver’s championship – especially when the Dutchman had no part in it. Playing at the last minute Massey decision.
Mercedes chief Toto Wolff (left) will speak with new Formula 1 governor Mohamed Ben Sulayem (right) to discuss last season’s farcical result.
There have been criticism on social media for the apparently slow pace of the investigation, with suggestions that Hamilton’s future in the sport could depend on the outcome.
The British remained silent since Abu Dhabi and did not comment on the events.
The FIA, which has been largely silent about the process in recent weeks, released a timetable on Thursday and said a sports advisory committee would meet on January 19 and would look at the use of the safety car.
“The next stage will be a joint discussion with all Formula One drivers,” she said.
“The result of the detailed analysis will be presented to the Formula 1 committee in February and final decisions will be announced at the World Motorsports Council in Bahrain on March 18.”
She said the newly elected FIA President Mohamed Ben Sulayem had asked Peter Baer, the sport’s general secretary, for “proposals to revise and improve the organization of the FIA F1 structure for the 2022 season”.
Mercedes will demand that Massey (above) dismiss the wrap-around car call in Abu Dhabi
Mercedes withdrew its legal action against the FIA, believing they had no chance of winning an appeal on the grounds that it would require the FIA to overturn their hosts in further significant damage to the sport, but has demanded the comprehensive investigation currently being undertaken to overhaul F1’s integration.
Mercedes chief Toto Wolff will sit down with 61-year-old rally driver Bin Sulayem from Dubai on Friday to discuss last season’s farcical result in a meeting that will go a long way to deciding Hamilton’s future.
For now, race director Michael Massey, 42, is still in the position. His position will be a key element when he meets Wolf bin Sulayem.
Sources suggest that Massey’s dismissal is a key requirement for Mercedes, although they deny that his departure is in exchange for Hamilton’s stay. They are seeking broader reform.
It is likely that Hamilton will continue to be the Mercedes star but the outcome of this new meeting will be decisive
A source said Sportsmail: Abu Dhabi is the first topic on the new president’s agenda. Wants to come back. The deadline is the World Motorsports Council meeting on February 3 – but there may be news before then, that’s the urgency of it.
The FIA appears to be torn over Massey’s fate. His head is expected to roll, but one of Bin Sulayem’s main supporters, former Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, whose Brazilian wife Fabiana was the first woman elected to the position of vice president for sport in South America, told Sportsmail: ‘I don’t see any reason. Whatever the reason, Michael should not continue with his job.
He did what he thought was best. You can say I will do this or that or that. But it was horrible that the final race ended under a safety car. Michael would have had the same amount of trouble. He is a good man and the FIA should stick to him.
It seems likely that Hamilton will continue. He will receive at least £30m a year and it is clear that he has unfinished business. Frankly, Mercedes has not put together a serious emergency list of alternatives.