Wurz sees ‘room for improvement’ after Abu Dhabi finale

Mark Scott
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi. Yas Marina December 2021

Title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi. Yas Marina December 2021

Alex Wurz, the chairman of Formula 1’s drivers’ association, has said a “robust framework” needs to be established in the sport following the hugely controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The decision from Race Control to allow just the lapped cars between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen to un-lap themselves and effectively create a one-lap showdown following a Safety Car period will certainly live long in the memory.

It had first appeared the race would finish behind the Safety Car, but that sudden change of mind allowed Verstappen, on much fresher tyres compared to Hamilton who had dominated the season finale up until that point, to take the race win and World Championship away from the Mercedes driver.

While Wurz agrees with the initial decision to deploy the Safety Car following Nicholas Latifi’s crash, he was not a fan of the subsequent decision that followed.

“The call for a Safety Car after the Nicholas Latifi crash was within the protocol and best practice, hence justified from a safety and sporting regulation point of view,” Wurz told PlanetF1.

“Other options like the Virtual Safety Car or Red Flag could have been applied, yet a SC seemed the most appropriate and probable call.

“To reverse the announcement “lapped cars not to unlap” to change within one lap to “certain cars to unlap” and the consequent handling of this SC process was unchartered territory and as such I am not a fan of this decision.”

Decisions aside, Wurz feels both Verstappen and Hamilton would have been worthy World Champions and, with the dust finally starting to settle on the season finale, the time has now come to implement new processes to ensure a “fair playground” can exist and be sustained in Formula 1.

“I believe Max is a great driver and deserves the title, but so would Lewis,” Wurz added.

“I wish we would have had a decision over the 2021 World Championship crown free of third party influence.

“But as we can not turn back time and with Mercedes dropping their appeal, we have to live with that situation and aim to make the best of it now and learn from it and ensure that decision making is optimised.

“The key stakeholders should work together to ensure that we have a robust framework and process in place to reflect the principle and spirit of any rule set, to have a fair playground, ensure fair sporting events do unfold based on a clear decision-making process and protocol for even such fast and challenging situations like we seen in Abu Dhabi.

“Of course, rarely a race situation can be compared exactly to other situations and decisions, so it remains difficult, and there will always be a grey zone, but the collective goal has to be to narrow it down the best possible, to support the persons and decision-making.

“Ultimately helping the sport to be a fair fought sporting competition of the best drivers and teams in the world.”

It had previously being reported that Wurz felt that F1’s race director Michael Masi had “done nothing wrong” but those attributed quotes were in relation to the red flag scenario of the Jeddah race and the decision to reshuffle the restart positions of Esteban Ocon, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton during the red flag period.