FIA release new statement on Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Jon Wilde
Lewis Hamilton leads starting the final lap of the Abu Dhabi GP. Yas Marina December 2021.

An FIA statement has revealed the timeline for their investigation into the controversial climax of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

But if, as has been reported, Lewis Hamilton is awaiting the findings before concluding whether or not to continue in Formula 1, he will be even more frustrated – the decisions will not be announced until March 18, the day of free practice for the 2022 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Hamilton has remained silent since a short interview in parc ferme at Yas Marina after relinquishing his Drivers’ World Championship crown to Max Verstappen, following some highly contentious decisions by race director Michael Masi in the closing stages of the year’s final grand prix relating to a Safety Car period.

The Mercedes team failed with two separate protests on the day and then opted not to continue an appeal process, that decision having been announced only hours after the FIA declared a full analysis of what had unfolded would be held.

Various unconfirmed reports have emerged in the last few days about what the study would comprise, when and by whom, and now some specific details have emerged by way of an FIA statement.

“Following the decision of the World Motor Sport Council in Paris on December 15 2021, the FIA administration, under the leadership of [President] Mohammed Ben Sulayem, has started the detailed analysis of the events of the last Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix,” began the statement.

“The FIA President launched a consultation with all F1 teams on various issues, including this one.

“On January 19, an item on the agenda of the Sporting Advisory Committee will be dedicated to the use of the Safety Car.

“The following stage will be a shared discussion with all F1 drivers.

“The outcome of the detailed analysis will be presented to the F1 Commission in February and final decisions will be announced at the World Motor Sport Council in Bahrain on March 18.

“FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem has asked Secretary General Sport and recently-appointed Single-Seater Director Peter Bayer for proposals to review and optimise the organisation of the FIA F1 structure for the 2022 season.”

That last paragraph suggests emphasis will be placed on the future of Masi and possibly also Nikolas Tombazis, the head of single-seater technical matters at the FIA, both of whom there have been rumours Mercedes are keen to see the back of.

It was reported earlier this week that Mercedes had denied striking a deal with the FIA to drop their appeal in exchange for Masi and Tombazis leaving their roles.

 

From Hamilton’s perspective, if it is true that he is considering whether or not to carry on, this timeline may be less than satisfactory.

Even if something suitable emerges from the F1 Commission gathering in February, that would leave only a few weeks maximum before the start of pre-season testing in Barcelona.

And, of course, the FIA will need to have decided whether Masi is remaining as race director some time before those “final decisions” are announced at the start of the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend.

 

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