Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi, 2021

The problems of perception the FIA must address after the Abu Dhabi row


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Consider an alternate scenario: All aspects of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to the point of the final lap, including conflicting lapped/unlapped cars messages, are identical save that (notional leader) Max Verstappen’s Red Bull team have not – unlike Mercedes with (second-placed) Lewis Hamilton – (twice) availed themselves of ‘free’ tyre changes under a safety car.

Thus, Verstappen embarks on the final lap of the season in the lead but on worn tyres while his opponent has the freshest of rubber. The safety car has pulled in and they face a final one-lap shootout. Verstappen is a sitting duck and is immediately overhauled by his rival – with whom he level-pegs on points – who clinches a record-setting eight drivers’ title.

Would the global outcry have been as concerted as transpired in the highly emotional aftermath of the most closely fought season in almost 40 years? Would Red Bull boss Christian Horner have led cheers that the right driver had won? Would Mercedes boss Toto Wolff have spoken out so vociferously about “personal integrity” and his wife Susie tweeted her hopes that by next year March the FIA has “sporting integrity”?

Would Hamilton have appeared at the FIA gala in Paris on Thursday evening and Verstappen and Horner boycotted the event? Indeed, would Wolff still refuse to talk to race director Michael Masi?

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There are no hard and fast answers to such theoretical questions, but my perceptions of just such an alternate situation is that Horner and Verstappen would have protested to all and sundry that they had been robbed and demanded redress, while Wolff and Hamilton would have accepted the silverware while shooting down accusations that the wrong driver had won world motor racing’s top prize.

“The decisions that have been taken in the last four minutes of this race have robbed Lewis Hamilton from a deserved world championship,” said Wolff four days after the race. “His driving, particularly in the last four races, was faultless. He had a commanding lead on Sunday in Abu Dhabi from the get-go.”

Wolff could, though, have referred a quartet of four faultless races from Verstappen – as could Horner about either driver – just as readily as either could have found four faults in their driving. And that is the point: they and their respective teams obviously back their own man rather than viewing the race (or season) through a prism of regulations they themselves had helped shape and voted for.

Perceptions are in the mind’s eye and could, of course, be readily right or totally wrong or somewhere in between, but until irrevocably disproven they are the unbridled truth to the beholder. To quote philosopher and father of lateral thinking Edward de Bono: “Perception is real even when it is not reality.” But, like every F1 fan, I am entitled to my perceptions.

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A case could be made that perceptions of the events during and after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix were twisted and manipulated by all affected parties – from drivers through teams to race direction and stewards and some partisan media – to suit their agendas, positions and nationalities. Fans sided according to their favourite, with many still clinging to convenient interpretations and perceptions of the rules.

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Such perceptions linger long after the results were declared final; after all threats of legal redress were withdrawn and all silverware distributed. Many viewers have vowed never to watch another grand prix, which is both an indicator of their disgust at what they perceived and a sign of ignorance of the rules. But Masi did not break any rules – the rules themselves were broken over time.

What Masi did do is apply them as he interpreted (perceived) them and while his interpretations may be open to question, as it is in the Mercedes camp (and amongst Hamilton’s followers) but not – surprise, surprise – by the Red Bull and Verstappen’s growing army of fans.

On Sunday in Abu Dhabi, he effectively acted as a policeman on point duty, directing traffic based on his judgement. That said, he is certainly stretched, and the FIA needs to consider an assistant (or two) to carry some of the administrative burdens he carries both as race director and in his other roles.

In August in an interview looking back on Masi’s (then) 50 grands prix as race director, he outlined his job description: “There’s obviously my role as the single seater sporting director, I have a lot more to do with the entire single seater ladder on a day-to-day basis [than did predecessor Charlie Whiting]. So all the way from F1 to F4.

Interview: Michael Masi on his first 50 grands prix as Formula 1 race director
“Then I have my core F1 team that does the operations, the IT et cetera and I’m the safety delegate for all the F1 events. I sit on the Circuits Commission, I do all of the circuit inspections for all the F1 events, new events, proposed events, current circuits, etc.”

Masi applied the regulations as required by constantly evolving circumstances during the heat of a finale battle. Had he manipulated any articles he would surely have been judged harshly by stewards, who twice heard (and rejected) protests from Mercedes that Sunday evening.

Mercedes on that Sunday evening called for the stewards to “remediate the matter by amending the
classification to reflect the positions at the end of the penultimate lap” – i.e., reversing the first two positions to be reversed, an unprecedented situation save where obvious mathematical errors were committed by officials. For logistics, regulatory and safety reasons the race could not be rerun later, while only stewards – not Masi – could decide to freeze the results as of lap 57. That they did not indicates that they fully supported Masi’s interpretation of the regulations, and, crucially, his decisions.

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On the flipside, had the matter progressed to appeal (or civilian) court the verdict would either have backed Masi’s decisions or found against them – with no middle road. The former verdict would have resulted in an inconveniently delayed crowning of Verstappen.

Hamilton did not attend FIA prizegiving
The latter verdict? Given the race could not be rerun, the only alternative would be to declare it null and void – as though it had never started – in which case the classification at end of the previous race would have decided the title. Given it was a draw on 369.5 points after that race, it would have gone to count-back on highest number of wins – again resulting in an inconveniently delayed crowning of Verstappen…

None of this, though, implies all is rosy in the F1 garden – far from it, in fact. Indeed, last Wednesday’s World Motor Sport Council meeting seemingly – note – acknowledged as much by appointing a commission of enquiry into “the sequence of events that took place following the incident on lap 53.”

A subsequent, cautiously-worded statement said: “This matter will be discussed and addressed with all teams and drivers to draw any lessons from this situation and clarity to be provided to participants, media, and fans about the current regulations to preserve the competitive nature of our sport while ensuring the safety of drivers and officials” (emphasis added).

There is no way of predicting the outcome but note the ‘draw any lessons’ clause – which could be taken to imply that there are few (or no) lessons to be learned; equally, the statement underscored the need for safety. The scene could be set for an exoneration of Masi for acting within his remit by ensuring safety standards were met while satisfying a long-standing inviolate decrees that no race should finish under a safety car and to ‘let them race’.

“These rules were drummed into Michael from the first day [in 2019] and since by everybody, from Jean [ex-FIA president Todt] and F1 downwards and by all team bosses plus the F1 Commission,” a source told RaceFans in Paris last week. “It looks bad on TV and leaves fans on a low.”

There was seeming conflict between Masi’s initial message at 18:27 (local) that ‘lapped cars will not be allowed to overtake’ during the safety car phase while they waited for debris from Nicolas Latifi’s crashed Williams to be cleared, superseded four minutes later by the massage ‘lapped cars 4 (NOR) – 14 (ALO) – 31 (OCO) – 16 (LEC) – 5 (VET) to overtake safety car’.

Safety Car, Yas Marina, 2021
Analysis: The four minutes that changed the destiny of the 2021 world championship
What happened in the four minutes between those two messages? Simply put: Latifi’s brakes unexpectedly flared up as the car was cleared; thus, Masi, who had been told by the (local) clerk of course that it would take two laps to clear the car leaving at least three racing laps, saw the remaining race distance reduced from four to two or even one lap. Those inviolate decrees came into play, and he acted in terms of sporting regulation article 15.3(e), which states:

“The Race Director shall have overriding authority in the following matters and the clerk of the course may give orders in respect of them only with his express agreement: e) Use of the safety car.”

Crucially, in terms of F1’s governance procedures these regulations were agreed with all teams, and at no stage did teams question these provisions until Masi exercised that prerogative. In fact, the teams effectively hold a veto over the regulations in that no changes may be effected unless eight of their number. If blame is to be apportioned the teams cannot be exonerated; equally the stewards found no fault in Masi’s decision.

On Abu Dhabi Sunday, ahead of the race, I spoke to McLaren team boss Zak Brown about paddock politics unrelated to the event itself. His comments were intriguing, to say the least: “I think [teams] should have less power. You know, we’ve only got politics because we’ve got such a big vote. There’d be less politics if we had less power…”

However, that Horner had been on the blower to Masi after the first message, and that the instruction was subsequently turned on its head gave rise to suggestions that he favoured Verstappen by kow-towing to the Red Bull team boss. Those close to him are adamant he, Masi, has never favoured any driver throughout his career, but a refusal to cede to Wolff’s demands that the decision be reversed fuelled these perceptions.

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There are, of course, allegations that Max has gotten away with overly robust driving during this season and these were cited as proof of favouritism, but stewards, not Masi, take such decisions. If there is any favouritism it cannot come from Masi, who does not have authority to hand down penalties (or favours). Penalty inconsistencies, too, are out of his hands – he merely flags up what he considers to be transgressions.

Which brings us neatly to perceptions of the stewards: while these are independent – I can vouch for the system, having attended four stewarding courses as observer – the major issue is they wear FIA shirts and present themselves as FIA officials while claiming independence.

Some of their number sit on the WMSC, and that must change to shift perceptions that they are entrenched in the system. Judges don’t sit in parliament or have offices in police stations.

Then there is Liberty’s commercial leverage of F1: While (recently-introduced) broadcasting of team folk arguing with Masi can make for good TV, the fact is only select conversations are broadcast, potentially conveying false impressions that such discussions are recent developments – which is not necessarily the case – while broadcasts tend to carry only ‘spicy’ bits. Such imbalances do F1 no favours, particularly among emerging fans.

These factors weighted heavily on F1 when it most mattered, and RaceFans understands these aspects will fall under the WMSC spotlight, which was given top priority by incoming president Mohammed Ben Sulayem during his first meetings with staff.

He should prioritise the commission over any inquiry into Hamilton’s absence from the gala, and, indeed, over any other business, for the sport’s top championship hinges upon perceptions of unethical conduct. The first step in this direction should be wholesale rewrite of the regulations to remove ‘all’ (not ‘any’) conflicting clauses which enable multi-interpretations.

That is where the real problem lies, for that would reduce Masi’s powers. And, while he is at it, the new president should clip the powers of the teams – on- and off-radio. That should be the only alternate scenario.


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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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198 comments on “The problems of perception the FIA must address after the Abu Dhabi row”

  1. The rule is quoted incorrectly, Masi has overriding authority over the Race Clerk’s decisions and not on how the SC operates.

    15.3 The clerk of the course shall work in permanent consultation with the Race Director. The Race
    Director shall have overriding authority in the following matters and the clerk of the course may
    give orders in respect of them only with his express agreement:

    e) The use of the safety car

    secondly the article fails to mention that the rules says all lapped cars must unlap themselves. Had the rules not broken there were 2 more laps under SC.

    1. Indeed. Unfortunately a very long and detailed piece, that’s based entirely on a fundamentally wrong reading of the rules.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        22nd December 2021, 13:24

        @j4k3 – It’s a very long and detailed piece of which you have just proven it’s point immediately. You’re and Wookie’s interpretation of the regulations is that the Race Director has “overriding authority over the Race Clerk’s decisions” however nowhere in the regulations is that explicitly stated. It’s just not there….

        Whilst it may not be the intention of the rules to give the Race Director overriding authority over the use of the safety car, that is what is written in the rules in black and white. Masi and the FIA’s interpretation of that line is that he does have overriding authority over the use of the safety car and ultimately, as the enforcers of the regulations, their interpretation of the rules trumps anyone else’s.

        This is why the teams pay huge amounts for lawyers to look over this stuff before anything is signed off. They should have spotted this and clarified the point – most likely the FIA would have agreed and would have changed the wording but as it was left in there and is clearly something that is open to interpretation, everyone is at the mercy of those responsible for interpreting it.

        1. You cannot just put a sentence out of its surrounding context. Its a paragraph with two sentences. And the context of a sentence needs to be respected also by those responsible for interpreting them, no matter how much pressure they get to manifacture a new champion.

          1. petebaldwin (@)
            22nd December 2021, 13:53

            I agree – the surrounding context is important to the interpretation of the rule and as I said, I don’t believe the intention of 15.3 was to allow the Race Director to do whatever he wants. That still doesn’t make it a paragraph that isn’t open to interpretation though…. Loosely worded regulations that allow room for interpretation lead to problems like this and it’s the job of the FIA, the teams and their lawyers to spot these issues and rectify them. They didn’t and it left room for the FIA to squirm their way out of a tight spot.

          2. 15.3 e) did not lead to the problem. The rules were broken, and this now is misinterpreted on purpose to use it as a backdoor out of the situation. Thats why this championship will ever stay illegitimate in my eyes.

          3. petebaldwin (@)
            22nd December 2021, 14:18

            I think that’s a perfectly valid theory as to what happened. Another is that Masi was already aware of 15.3 and interpreted it as him being allowed to do what he wanted with the safety car.

            Either way, it caused a lot of controversy and needs addressing quickly so that all parties go into the 2022 season in agreement as to what the rules are.

          4. @RomTrain If you’re going to look at the full context of 15.3, then I think Masi’s case grows stronger. Sections a), b), and c) on controlling the race, stopping cars, and issuing red flags all include the phrase: “in accordance with the Sporting Regulations” — i.e., that the race director’s “overriding authority” over the clerk of the course is still limited to acting within the regulations.

            But sections d) and e) do not include that phrase. That seems intentional, because when the safety car was reintroduced in the 1990s, the sporting regulations specified few procedures for its use. In the 1994 regulations, there is no procedure for starting a race behind a safety car — meaning the race director would necessarily have to improvise procedures not present in the sporting regulations. It seems, at the very least, easily arguable that the intent of 15.3 d) and e) was to give the race director carte blanche over the starting procedure and safety car to do just that.

            Perhaps the later safety car withdrawal procedures in 48.12 and .13 were intended to restrict the race director — but 15.3 was not revised to remove the conflict. And what’s more, 48.12 and 13 don’t explicitly state the race director ought to follow the procedures. Instead, they are written entirely in terms of the clerk of the course — and sort of lazily, with phrases like, “When the clerk of the course decides…” and, “If the clerk of the course considers…”. This contrasts with the older, preexisting language on deploying the safety car, which uses passive language that does not specify one or the other, and thus could more easily be argued to bind both the clerk of the course and the race director.

            So I don’t mean to defend Masi or the FIA, but to agree with @petebaldwin that the underlying issue is that the regulations are a patchwork of rules accumulated over the decades that have grown increasingly incoherent and allow multiple interpretations. Even if Masi has grounds to invoke 15.3, the perception of arbitrary rule is harmful to the sport’s reputation. It seems likely that 15.3 was originally written for the 1993 race director to exercise his best judgment in good faith in new situations — but I can’t imagine its drafters had that situation in mind when they wrote it. The sporting regulations need a team of lawyers to pore over it and issue mock challenges so they can be tightened, in the same way that Ross Brawn claims his aerodynamics team have battle-tested their own technical regulations.

          5. RomTrain

            15.3 e) did not lead to the problem. The rules were broken, and this now is misinterpreted on purpose to use it as a backdoor out of the situation. Thats why this championship will ever stay illegitimate in my eyes.

            Not quite, the rules are ambiguous given the overriding auhtority of the RD. There’s a problem with that, but it simply can’t be correctly said that the rules were broken as a whole. The conflicting messages regarding the SC are another issue as well, it led to further confusion and the inability to perform a reasonable procedure in the end of the race.

          6. The “surrounding context” in this case is that the race director’s overriding authority over other matters (such as the use of red flags) is subject to the qualification “in accordance with the sporting regulations.”

            There is no such qualification associated with his overriding authority regarding the use of the safety car. So the context suggests that he is allowed to depart from the sporting regulations when it comes to using the safety car, as he sees fit.

          7. @petebaldwin I would agree with that being a possibility if either Masi hadn’t said explicitly last year that he had no choice but to follow the procedure or a correction had been made at any point between then and his use of it. As it is, it looks like it was only considered after he had done as he did as a way to justify it, which looks very bad for both Masi and the stewards. It makes it look like they said “oh heck, this is really bad, let’s scour the rules to see if there is any way we can stop the proverbial hitting the fan”.

      2. Massimiliano Augusto
        22nd December 2021, 15:36

        If their overarching focus is safety, they should sack Masi. He took his grossly exaggerated power and applied a completely ridiculous interpretation of F1 rules, that no F1 fan has ever witnessed to enforce 1 lap of racing, whilst the track wasn’t even completely clear. There was plenty of fire extinguisher residue on turn 14 after the SC had been pitted a lap early, and Masi was just fortunate that no one took the corner wide on the last lap.

        The “perception” is a simple one: in the midst of ex F1 execs saying that Hamilton winning is bad for the sport, a new champion is crowned ONLY because there was a rule interpretation that the drivers, teams, media and fans have never seen. The stewards (who are part of the FIA) then deemed the rule interpretation to be fine. Consequently, if Mercedes’ wanted to appeal this decision, it goes to an ‘independent’ court hired by the FIA. It doesn’t take 5000 words to summarise the perception.

        1. I get this exact same perception.
          If thing were going “favourably” Masi and crew would not gone to such extremes to manipulate the race.

          Here’in lies the big question. Why was Hamilton winning the race under a 5 lap safety car unfavourable?

          We had one if the most exciting championship deciding races, Brazil 2012 finisbing under safety car and no one complained. In fact most forgot that the safety car was deployed!

          1. @david-beau

            We had one if the most exciting championship deciding races, Brazil 2012 finisbing under safety car and no one complained. In fact most forgot that the safety car was deployed!

            Ask the teams, including Mercedes, who agreed with the Let them race principle, including doing the necessary for a race to not finish behind the SC. There was time for the procedure to be applied correctly the way it’s described in the sporting code, to allow all cars to unlap themselves, and then the outcome would be the same.

          2. @david-beau The idea that the outcome was “manipulated” to favour Verstappen specifically is obviously contradicted by the lap 1 incident. If the stewards wanted to help Verstappen towards victory they would surely have penalised Hamilton.

            I can get on board with the idea that, er, liberties were taken with the Safety Car procedure to ensure a one-lap showdown between the title contenders. But I don’t think the powers that be particularly cared who came out on top as long as it was close between them.

          3. @red-andy Lap one incident would have been decided by the stewards. The safety car procedures were overseen by the Race Director. The two won’t necessarily have the same goals.

      3. The point of the article is to highlight the fact that the rules are open to interpretation and therefore the application of them runs the risk of creating this very situation.
        @j4k3 “based entirely on a fundamentally wrong reading of the rules.” is your perception of one rule without perception of other rules and all the other detail that go hand in hand with decision making, my perception may well be the same. Hence the quote “Perception is real even when it is not reality.” this is a psychological truth, what you perceive is real to you and you will believe it to be the truth. It is extremely difficult for any of us mere mortals to realise when our personal agendas are influencing our perceptions and correct it to the real real, it is natural bias towards our own agendas and we can’t see it unless we are looking for it.
        As supporters, in this scenario, we have perceived the rules in a manner that supports our desire for the driver we favour to win, and if unaware of said perception, we quite simply cannot see it any other way, right or wrong.
        The entire point of the article is to highlight the point that no single rule was applicable, so perception is that one or two rules have been broken and therefore someone cheated, but simultaneously one or two rules have been correctly applied therefore nobody cheated. Therein lies the problem (Conflicting rules) and in all likelihood the reason that protests were dropped (Only my opinion), but, there was really nothing to protest in terms of the ‘rules’. However, there is most definitely something in the rules that needs to be addressed.

        Of far more concern is the fact that individuals who are not actually part of the contest can place so much importance in on someone else’s achievements. It really doesn’t matter. Please put your energy into important things, like the planet we are destroying, children that are starving – Other.

    2. +1

      I dont get it, how this can be misunderstood, apart from it being misinterpreted on purpose. Rules were broken, and 15.3 e) is no justification of the decision to pull back the safety car in the same lap. Facts are facts.

      In my opinion they wanted a new champ and used the opportunity, braking the rules. Therefore its a cheated championship in my eyes. But opinions are up to everyone, so feel free to have your own here.

      1. misinterpreted on purpose

        It’s so obvious that’s what’s happening. This article reads like a comment from a one eyed max fan.

        Completely ignores other articles posted on this very site and even goes on to imply the site has some national bias for Lewis.

        1. I do think that Dieter is a one eyed Max fan although some of his articles have been really good.
          It’s sad we live in a world where people think being smart devious and manipulative is better than just being honest.
          Masi was wrong.

      2. Again, you are focusing on one single rule and perceiving that to be the beginning and end of the situation. There is far more to it than the interpretation/perception of 1 rule. Perceptions, interpretations and combination of many factors. None of us were in the room listening to the process and conversations while it was all unfolding, we really have limited view and perception of the whole situation. We simply can’t lean on 1 single rule in isolation from all other factors and believe that our personal perception is not influenced by our personal agendas.
        By arguing one rule under the banner of this article you have clearly missed the point.

    3. You just quoted the pertinent rule yourself. What do you think “overriding” means? If you are not a native speaker or lack education, then please consult with someone you trust, who can explain this to you. It is not a difficult concept to understand.

      1. Overriding regarding all rules? Send the safety car to bring his kids to school and get him some coffee? Its rubbish to pull this sentence out of its context. Its only two sentences you need to read, but yeah, if you want to misinterpret then you can do so.

        1. You defined the context to only the clerk. That’s not the intent of the rule.
          That part is about the clerk only communicating with expressed consent of Masi.
          Not the other way around.
          So still interpretation.

    4. Emmanuel Goldstein
      22nd December 2021, 16:02

      I agree with the other commenters that this article is based upon a fundamental misinterpretation of the rules.

      If Masi & the steward’s interpretation of the rules is correct, then by extension the RD also has overriding authority over the start procedure as well. Does this mean that Masi can, for example, direct all cars to line up in reverse grid order? Or to start the race when the second red light illuminates?

      If the RD has such overreaching powers, why have the other paragraphs in the rules at all?

      1. Yep. The other part of this article which I fundamentally disagree with is:

        What Masi did do is apply them as he interpreted

        This is not so. Only last year at the Eiffel GP, he stated clearly and on record that he had to follow that procedure. There has been no clarification from him, any stewards or anyone else within the FIA to say that he misinterpreted the rules then. Therefore, to suddenly turn around and say he was wrong only after he chose not to follow that procedure stinks of a cover-up: They realised that he had broken the rules and hunted for any part of the rules they could twist around to support their decision.

        I cannot believe that someone who clearly stated that he must follow a procedure less than 2 years ago, who has followed it precisely for every safety car since, and who has never issued any statement to contradict that until after the fact actually believed that what he did was allowed under the rules.

        The only part that I do agree with from this article, in fact, is that if the situation had been reversed, the reactions from teams, drivers and most Lewis and Max fans would also be reversed. I cannot say for certain what my reaction would have been: As a Lewis fan, I know I would have been celebrating, but I do believe (and hope) that I would still be appalled with Masi’s decision and calling for action to stop such a farce happening again.

    5. Fred Flintstone
      23rd December 2021, 11:14

      The term “overriding authority” clearly mean the Race Director can “override” and give an “order” (authority) on the matters listed – I think everyone agrees with this, but what seems to be in debate is whether the confers power over clerk of the course or carte blanche power over the rules of the matters listed.

      As it is the second sentence in a paragraph it would usually be taken as a “detail” sentence based on English grammar rules, and be seen to relate to the preceding sentence which is the topic of the paragraph. The “overriding authority” would then relate to relationship with the clerk of the course. This would make sense as the clerk of the course is the person who appears to be the one who usually gives “orders” for the matters listed (as noted elsewhere in the rules).

      Even if we disregard conventional grammar rules for paragraphs (and ignore the first sentence), and read just the second sentence – then the topic would still appear to be the power of the Race Director over the clerk of the course. The second half the of the sentence clearly states “…and the clerk of the course may give orders in respect of them only with his express agreement”.

      Based on the wording there are 2 (maybe 3) options:
      1. the clerk of the course makes an order with the Race Director’s agreement, or
      2. the Race Director gives an order directly, or
      3?. the Race Director orders the clerk of the course to make an order

      To be honest I’m not even sure we know which scenario(s) occurred.

      In all scenarios there is nothing in 15.3 to suggest the rulebook should not be followed. The overriding authority is presumably there purely to enable a decision to be made if a disagreement in the interpretation of the rules exists between the clerk of the course and the Race Director.

      If the intention of 15.3 was to give the Race Director carte blanche powers over the matters listed, then this power should clearly be its own paragraph and have its own number accordingly to highlight the significance of its authority (and be worded correctly). It should not and need not be combined with how the clerk of the course gives order and consults with the Race Director.

      1. Precisely. I’ve explained it like this before now:

        Imagine I am the boss on a building project. I assign 2 builders to work on a wall, but I specify that one of them has overriding authority on the mortar. I would still expect that mortar to be mixed correctly according to relevant regulations and company guidelines. This would not give overriding authority for him to ignore building regs, and it wouldn’t allow him to use no mortar or replace it with cream cheese. Anyone trying to claim such could be expected to be summarily dismissed.

        1. Excellent way of explaining this.

    6. Couldn’t agree more; article 15.3 was used as a red herring after the fact to defend a cock-up by an ad hoc, unprecedented safety car procedure; especially bad given the fact that he Masi is on record for saying that under the sporting code, all lapped cars are required to unlap themselves in 2020.
      I’m a bit surprised the author has gone to such great lengths in an attempt to justify the unjustifiable and rationalise it!
      And all those hypothetical questions are irrelevant. And yes, perceptions may play a role but you mitigate that by just sticking to the facts of what actually happened in those 4 minutes. It is not a perception that he invented a new rule on the spot by allowing only the cars between Lewis and Max to unlap so Max can attack given the tyre differences! What about the cars between Max and Sainz? If you give the chance for Max to attack, why not give the same chance to Sainz???
      The author can contort and rationalise all he wants but the facts will always be the facts; an ad hoc, unprecedented safety car procedure, which amounts to a cock-up at best and a manipulation at worst, period!

    7. You are mistaken
      Article 48.12 and Article 48.13 also apply
      “Any cars that have been lapped by the leader will be required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the safety car”
      ANY does not mean ALL in law
      The overriding authority given to the Race Director means he has unfettered discretion to make any decision and change it as he deems fit, overruling any other rule or previous decision.
      The Race Director is the referee appointed by FIA and agreed by F1
      The decision of the referee is final.
      End of story.

  2. OMG LOOK! A dead hourse lets go beat it.

    1. Lest we forget….F1~ 13/5/50 – 12/12/21

  3. I had to read the name of the author of the article several times just to be sure it wasn’t Masi who wrote it himself.
    Granted Masi has a difficult job, but he is arrogant and dismissive when he wasn’t to be. He will never accept that he makes mistakes and will constantly give himself a pat on the back for a job well-done.
    We don’t know how Mercedes or Hamilton would have reacted if they were in this situation as winners, but I am very certain they would behave differently and be more apologetic going by their respective history of handling such issues in the past.
    Drivers don’t earn points for how many times they change tyres.
    The job of the FIA or stewards is not to determine who deserves the championship retroactively based on their wrong interpretation of the rules. F1 is no Ballet. You don’t say because a driver drove well in the previous races then he must win. As such it is not the job of the FIA to compensate drivers for their earlier season bad luck because I kept hearing even Todt repeat that on and on.

    Masi’s mistake was the equivalent of making a center kick a penalty.
    There is no way to prevent such from happening again if the result will still stand irrespective of any protest.

    1. So, they handled it like a movie then.

      The hero had “bad luck” in the opening scenes and thus like the ending of the Avengers movie, a Deus ex machina situation MUST be used to produce the rightful conclusion to the season!: The villains on the cusp of victory are thwarted and hero against all odds, prevails!

      Nah. This is not what I want to watch. When I want movies I go to the cinema or watch Netflix.

    2. Maybe you have to reread the article again. Without bias and see your remarks already were addressed.
      But maybe it’s to soon and you are still grieving.

      1. You view issues with tinted eyes

      2. Grieving is short term. You on the other hand will be rationalizing a forever asterisk *, forever.

  4. Jelle van der Meer (@)
    22nd December 2021, 12:33

    Imagine the world where Masi would have made the correct call immediately to let lapped cars overtake the SC at the start of lap 56 instead of broadcasting that lapped cars may not overtake SC.
    In that world all lapped cars would have overtaken the SC, the SC would still have come in on lap 57 with Max right behind Lewis and with the exact same outcome on lap 58.

    1. The Safety car would have stayed out on the track an additional lap, as per the FiA rules. We don’t need to imagine anything. The rules were not followed because the show must go on.

      1. “the show” is a race. Not driving behind a sc. The rules are made to race, so they should be used as such.

        1. “the show” is a race. Not driving behind a sc.

          Then the Belgian GP was not a race and no points should have been awarded.

          1. It was not a race indeed.. that’s why they only got half the points.

          2. But it counted as a win for your beloved erikje.

      2. @erikje – Wrong
        Lap 56, all cars un-lap
        Lap 57, safety car in (NB! that is 1 lap later than above Lap 56)
        Lap 58, Max passes Lewis and wins, nothing changed.

        1. Apology erikje, not you, @johnnyrevvs
          But the point is mute as the track was not cleared.

    2. They couldn’t unlap on lap 56 because the track wasn’t clear.

      1. And let’s not forget the sc was driving much slower than is normal furthr making sure the race wouldn’t conclude under the sc. I would like to hear the instructions to the sc from those wouldbe ‘racing gods’.

    3. If you rewatch the race, on lap 56 when the cars pass the incident, there are still multiple marshalls standing trackside, and not at their correct posts. This renders this hypothetical timeline I have seen banded around a lot, completely irrelevant, as cars cannot be allowed to pass the safety car until all marshalls are back at their designated posts.

    4. Lapped cars couldn’t overtake at the start of lap 56 as Michael Masi stated that the track wasn’t clear for lapped cars so that wasn’t the correct call. Regardless of all the hypothesis that people can conjure, Max won the championship. What people should be annoyed about regardless of who they support is that the decision made was for the benefit of the show and not of the sporting integrity of F1.

      This isn’t Max or Red Bull fault, this is the fault of the official body of F1 and the fact they don’t accept the blame and try to blame fans for “misunderstanding” is insulting.

      1. +1.

        Mercedes were appealing to the stewards over the Race Director’s handling of the safety car. They were not appealing the actions of Red Bull or their driver (in this instance – their other appeal was and that had been dismissed). Why then was the Race Director not summoned to the hearing until after the adjournment? Why were Red Bull summoned to present a case on his behalf?

        As FIA employees judging a case against the FIA why did the stewards not declare their conflict of interest and stand down? From my reading of the Sporting Regulations there is a nowhere a penalty for the FIA should it fail to obey the rules, and so there is no explanation of how such failure will be judged. The Sporting Regulations assume everyone in the FIA is perfect in this respect. The idea that a Race Director would not follow the Sporting Regulations was obviously inconceivable to the authors. Now we know it can happen the regulations need to explain the remedies and provide for an independent judge.

      2. the fact they don’t accept the blame and try to blame fans for “misunderstanding” is insulting


  5. Masi perfectly illustrates the peter principal, personally I’m tired of the excuses of “I have too much to do”. Given the job, the visibility and the objectives, a person in the position of Masi should rather dictate what is required in additional assistance so he can focus on what he’s paid to do.

    The fact that we’re excusing differing interpretations of rules based on different events means we’re no longer talking about a sport, but a narrative.

    One of the biggest hurdles to any kind of real resolution I fear is the lack of a spine by the major media pundits, in that in order to not upset the apple cart, and keep accessibility to the inner circle, will NEVER be critical of what actually took place.

    We had a guy change the rules of a sport, mid-event in order to spice up the “show”.

    That’s WWE, not F1. Masi personifies the peter principle.