As is the case with the 2021 Formula 1 season, the race to decide the championship is dramatic.
During the closing laps of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Williams’ driver Nicholas Latifi slipped off the track and hit a wall, leading to a safety car. That safety car turned out to be the fateful event as it closed the gap between race leader Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, with Verstappen eventually leading in the final lap of the final race of the season.
But the decision to restart the race while some cars are not allowed to explode on their own has been met with criticism and questions.
Here’s what happened:
What happened in the last round?
FIA rules dictate that any (but not all) cars lined up behind a safety car are allowed to overtake and steer themselves while the safety vehicle is off the track. That did not happen on Sunday.
Of the eight drivers disqualified in the race, only five were allowed to pass Lewis Hamilton under a safety car: Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel. There are three more cars that have yet to unfold on their own (Daniel Ricciardo, Lance Stroll, Mick Schumacher), but likely should have been given the opportunity to do so, according to FIA regulations.
Only when all cars self-extract can the safety car end and it must do so in the following lap. Instead, the safety car left the lap following five advancing cars, with the last three still unsprung.
If those three cars were also allowed to unfurl on their own, it would have to go one more lap and the race would end under the yellow flag, with Hamilton securing the win.
Article 39.12 of the sports registration reads: “If the staff of the course considers it safe to do so and the message “LAPPED CARS CAN NOW CAN DO” has been sent to all teams. , any vehicle that is overtaken by the captain will be required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the safety vehicle.” 1 /
– Andrew Benson (@andrewbensonf1) December 12, 2021
Instead, the race restarted after the cars separating Hamilton and Verstappen overtook Hamilton, leading to a controversial race ending.
So, in the words of the people: If all cars are allowed to pass and the safe car rules are followed strictly according to the rules of the law, the race will end under a safe car. , Hamilton will win the eighth world championship and finish. with Verstappen has certainly been against the climate.
It looks like race managers would prefer the championship to be decided on a final lap instead of under the yellow flag. While that makes for good entertainment and cooler talk, it’s not in the spirit of the rules.
Race director Michael Masi made that clear with his unequivocal message over the team radio.
“Toto? It’s called a motor race, OK?” Masi said of Mercedes captain Toto Wolff. “We went to car racing.”
For those wondering why there are no red flags: According to the Sky Sports broadcast, before kick-off, the managers decided the race would not be red flaged because an accident happened at the location that Latifi crashed into, so that’s not not an option.
Mercedes has decided to file two official objections for what appears to be a post-race violation of the rules: One for cars that overtake (or fail to pass) during safe car times, and one for the likely Verstappen pass within safe vehicle time. There was more ambiguity in the second demonstration than in the first.
With Mercedes and Red Bull’s meeting with FIA officials after the race linked to the protests, the FIA has yet to issue a statement on the matter. Sky Sports reports that Mercedes brought a lawyer to their meeting with the race managers, so apparently, they are taking the matter very seriously, hoping to get a favorable decision.
According to reports, the FIA dismissed both protests hours after the race, leaving Verstappen the race winner and driver’s champion for 2021.
Here’s why the FIA rejected both appeals:
- Officials allege that Verstappen, who had just inched past Hamilton in the one-second safety window before reversing, did not actually overtake the safety vehicle or gain an advantage.
- Officials also determined that the race director had unilateral control over the deployment and use of safety vehicles (Article 15.3), although there is some debate about the spirit of that rule and; Article 48.13 indicates that the message “Safety vehicle in this round” is displayed to the driver in fact, which means that the safety vehicle will be in within that, not the rear loop, thus replacing article 48.12, which states that “any vehicle that has been rolled” must self-deflate while the vehicle is safe.
A rejected Mercedes protest – the protest over overtaking before the restart. “Although (VER) has moved slightly forward (HAM) for a very short period of time, when both are accelerating and braking, backward but not forward when the safe vehicle time is up, end”
– Andrew Benson (@andrewbensonf1) December 12, 2021
The Managers state that Article 15.3 allows the Race Director to control the use of SC. “That although Article 48.12 may not be fully applicable, Article 48.13 overrides that.”
Mercedes wants the result to go to the penultimate round. Management considers this inappropriate.
– Phillip Horton (@ PHortonF1) December 12, 2021
Riders, analysts and fans are all confused with how the race is starting again:
There were a few riders on TV after the race (Norris and Ricciardo were two) admitting that they had absolutely no idea how to feel the whole way it ended. They say Max fully deserves the title, but the way the reboot is handled has confused some # F1 #AbuDhabiGP
– Chris Medland (@ChrisMedlandF1) December 12, 2021
Max is an absolutely amazing racer who has had an incredible season and I have nothing but tremendous respect for him, but what just happened is completely unacceptable. I can’t believe what we just saw.
– George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) December 12, 2021
With both objections filed, Mercedes has decided to waive their right to appeal, meaning they have 48 hours to file an appeal. Ultimately, this could end up in court.
What is certain is that Max Verstappen is the world champion. At least, now.