The FIA has released its report into the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, finding race director Michael Masi “acted in good faith” when trying to restart the race but made a “human error” in not allowing all cars to un-lap themselves.
Lewis Hamilton held a commanding lead over title rival Max Verstappen when a late Safety Car period bunched up the field, and Masi initially stated no lapped cars would be allowed to overtake before changing the decision to only move the five cars between Hamilton and Verstappen. Masi has since been removed from the race director role as the FIA overhauls its race control structure, and a report into the handling of the incident was presented to the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) on Saturday.
The report itself offers very little new information, simply stating that team members radioing Masi was not helpful at a time when his focus was required “on making difficult and time-pressured decisions”, and claiming the regulations were open to interpretation. It also does not feature any comment or explanation from Masi regarding the decisions made in Abu Dhabi.
However, in summarizing the report, the WMSC admits a mistake was made in the way the unlapping rules were applied.
“In combination with the objective to finish under green flag racing conditions applied throughout the 2021 season, the report finds that the race director was acting in good faith and to the best of his knowledge given the difficult circumstances, particularly acknowledging the significant time constraints for decisions to be made and the immense pressure being applied by the teams,” the WMSC decision read.
“The process of identifying lapped cars has up until now been a manual one and human error lead to the fact that not all cars were allowed to un-lap themselves. Due to the fact that manual interventions generally carry a higher risk of human error, software has been developed that will, from now on, automate the communication of the list of cars that must un-lap themselves.
“In addition, the 2022 Formula 1 Sporting Regulations have been recently updated to clarify that ‘all’ and not ‘any’ cars must be permitted to un-lap themselves.”
In an attempt to draw a line under the controversy, the report also adds that “the results of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the FIA Formula One World Championship are valid, final and cannot now be changed”.
Both Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff have stated their belief that the sport now needs to move on from 2021 after the FIA implemented changes, although Hamilton had called for the publication of the report to show transparency from the governing body.
The full report can be read here.