Herbert: F1 needs review after ‘bitter taste’ of Abu Dhabi

Date published: January 7 2022 - Mark Scott

Cars pass Safety Car sign during Abu Dhabi GP. Yas Marina December 2021.

Sky Sports F1 pundit Johnny Herbert has heavily criticised the decisions made in the final moments of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last month, you will know that Max Verstappen won the Drivers’ World Championship in highly controversial circumstances which were triggered by race director Michael Masi at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Masi permitted a situation where the lapped cars separating race leader Lewis Hamilton and title rival Max Verstappen under Safety Car conditions were able to un-lap themselves, creating a clear path for the latter on fresh tyres to hunt down Hamilton with one lap to go.

Verstappen duly got the job done to win his first World Championship title and prevent Hamilton from taking what looked like being a record-breaking eighth crown.

Herbert is part of an ever-increasing list of people within the Formula 1 circle who want to see the FIA take a proper stand and ensure decisions are not just made for the purposes of entertainment.

“This should never have happened and it should never again,” was Herbert’s opening and damning line via Motor Sport Magazine.

“This one leaves a bitter taste.

“Lewis had done absolutely nothing wrong, Red Bull had made the right calls on the strategy. Then it just seemed unfair that Lewis lost it when he had no chance of a fight.

“So what should have happened? The track was clear, but there wasn’t time to let the unlapped cars past. They should have been released to race with the five unlapped cars remaining in between Hamilton and Verstappen. That way it could have been a two-lap shootout, with Max having to pass those cars before he got to Lewis.

“That’s more racy than giving Max such an advantage.

“What we’ve had this year has been very positive for F1 because it has got people talking about it again, which hasn’t been the case for a long time. We didn’t need the last lap to make it exciting.”

 

Another former F1 driver, Stefan Johansson, has equally been as vocal as Herbert, saying Masi’s decision-making process lacked all “common sense” and thinks the sport is heading in “dangerous territory” in becoming the motorsport version of WWE, where the outcome of the matches are pre-determined.

The FIA has vowed to lead a full investigation into the events of Abu Dhabi.

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