Formula 1’s sporting regulations have been updated to try to rule out a repeat of the controversial 2021 season finale in Abu Dhabi.
F1’s governing body, the FIA, has made a number of rule changes after the use of the safety car was given pride of place at Yas Marina in December.
Lewis Hamilton was heading for his record eighth world title in the final when a late Nicholas Latifi crash brought out a safety car, allowing championship rival Max Verstappen to take advantage and stop for tires new.
Verstappen’s stoppage gave Hamilton a five-car-lap buffer between contenders, with the race expected to finish behind the safety car, or Verstappen given the nearly impossible task of driving through traffic.
However, controversy soon reigned supreme when race director Michael Masi gave up only five cars between Verstappen and Hamilton to set up a final lap showdown.
Verstappen’s jaw-dropping last-lap lunge over Hamilton won him his first world title, but the settlement was instantly opened by Mercedes, leading to multiple protests.
Article 55.13 of the FIA regulations read “…all cars which have been overtaken by the leader shall overtake the cars on the lead lap and the safety car,with the word “everything” left open to Masi’s interpretation.
Now, however, in the recently published regulations, ‘any‘ has been replaced by ‘all‘ meaning that in a repeat of the 2021 final, Verstappen would most likely run out of time and space to overtake rival Hamilton.
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Masi has since been removed as race director and replaced by Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, bringing a wealth of experience in similar roles in other top motorsport categories.
However, not everyone agreed with Verstappen’s Red Bull boss Christian Horner telling talkSPORT the dismissal was “tough”.
” It’s difficult. This is the business of the FIA. I think it’s tough, I think he was in a really tough position last year,” Horner said in February.
“We felt a lot of decisions were against us last year.
“When you look at what he has at his disposal in terms of resources, compared to what the teams have, it’s a huge difference.
“Good to hear they’re bringing in things like the VAR equivalent and one of the more experienced Herbie Blash guys. [former F1 deputy race director].
“I just think there was so much pressure on Michael coming off and that’s not fair. That’s my personal feeling.”
Following Masi’s sacking, rumors of an early retirement for Hamilton, 37, have been put to bed.
However, the Briton is still eagerly awaiting the results of the FIA’s internal investigation into the Abu Dhabi final, with the full report to be released on March 18, when Friday practice for the 2022 season curtain-raiser in Bahrain will begin.
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