FIA proposes “clarification exercise” over Abu Dhabi

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The FIA has agreed to conduct a detailed analysis of the events that led up to Max Verstappen being crowned world champion at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix amid concerns the sport is being tarnished by “misunderstandings” and “arguments”.

The ending of a safety car period one lap from the end of the race has been the source of significant controversy, as the FIA’s race director Michael Masi appeared to ignore certain parts of the sporting regulations in order to ensure the title battle was decided by one final lap of racing.

The hasty restart gave Verstappen the opportunity to pass his title rival Lewis Hamilton on the final lap, helping him secure the championship with a race victory.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team protested the race results after the chequered flag, with a focus on the articles of the sporting regulations that had been ignored to get racing back underway for one final lap.

The stewards rejected Mercedes’ protest, resulting in the team lodging its intention to appeal that gives it until Thursday evening to build a case that could still go to the FIA’s International Court of Appeal.

The FIA’s World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) convened on Wednesday as part of a planned meeting ahead of Thursday’s prize giving ceremony and, among other topics, discussed the events of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

After details of the final laps of the race were presented to the WMSC, FIA president Jean Todt, whose final term as president ends this week, called for “a detailed analysis and clarification exercise”.

A statement said the safety car period and certain radio messages between race control and the teams had “generated significant misunderstanding and reactions from Formula One teams, drivers and fans”, which the FIA believes are “currently tarnishing the image of the championship”.

The statement added: “This matter will be discussed and addressed with all the teams and drivers to draw any lessons from this situation and clarity to be provided to the participants, media, and fans about the current regulations to preserve the competitive nature of our sport while ensuring the safety of the drivers and officials.”

The FIA will now propose the idea to the Formula One Commission, a body including the teams and Formula One itself, in the hope that it will “give a clear mandate for study and proposal to the Sporting Advisory Committee, with the support of Formula One drivers, so that any identified meaningful feedback and conclusions be made before the beginning of the 2022 season.”

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