A month has now passed since the 2021 F1 season had one of the craziest final laps EVER SEEN in the championship. Not only was it a winner takes all season finale, but the calls made by the FIA regarding lapped cars passing under the Safety Car ultimately helped decide the championship.
Unless you’ve been under a rock, Max Verstappen was able to pass Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to win his first Drivers’ Championship in dramatic style. The controversy was that the standard rules for unlapping behind a safety car were twisted to ensure for “green flag” racing between the top two on the last lap.
With Nicholas Latifi crashing just laps before the chequered flag, the FIA brought out a standard safety car to ensure the Williams and Latifi were suitably and safely removed from the scene.
As can happen later on in races, lapped cars found themselves between race leader Hamilton and second place Max Verstappen, who was running over 11 seconds behind the seven-time champ on Lap 53 of 58 when yellow flags were issued for the Latifi incident.
At first, it was stated that “lapped cars can’t overtake”, which would mean that if racing was allowed again, Max would have to pass five cars to get behind Hamilton for a chance to overtake. “Yeah, of course, typical decision,” Verstappen said on his team radio.
Then just a lap later, the decision was reversed, but only the five cars between Hamilton and Verstappen were allowed to pass the safety car and get out of the way. This closed up the gap with green flags being waved for the last lap of the race and meant that Verstappen – on fresher tyres – could pass Hamilton for the lead of the race and take the championship crown.
The final lap of racing resulted in us not being sure whether to hide behind a cushion or yell at the television, but one thing was certain: some serious questions needed to be answered.
With Mercedes outraged that Hamilton had brutally lost a record-breaking eighth championship, they protested the result immediately after the race.
The FIA threw it out, with Red Bull bringing to Mercedes’ attention that “Article 15.3 gives the Race Director “overriding authority” over “the use of the safety car”.
The decision document also highlighted that “the Race Director also stated that it had long been agreed by all the Teams that where possible it was highly desirable for the race to end in a “green” condition (i.e. not under a Safety Car).”
With so much backlash from fans, drivers and the media, the FIA confirmed they would be investigating the situation, and according to Sky Sports, that’s now underway.
Apparently, starting yesterday, Monday 11th January, the investigation will be aiming to interview everyone involved, including Masi, the other stewards, drivers and team representatives. Basically, hearing everyone’s side of the story.
It’s hoped that the findings will be shared by at least the next World Motor Sport Council meeting, which is being held in early February. There’s also some speculation that Hamilton is waiting to make a decision on his future in F1 based on the findings and the actions taken from this investigation.
What do you think the outcome of the investigation will be? Let us know in the comments below.