FIA inquiry results out in March

PARIS • Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton must wait two more months for motor sport chiefs to reveal the results of their inquiry into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where the Dutchman clinched the 2021 Formula One world title last month.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) said on Thursday that the outcome will not be revealed until March 18, just two days before the 2022 season gets under way in Bahrain.

Hamilton had dominated the Abu Dhabi race and was on course to win a record-breaking eighth drivers' title when the safety car was sent out after Nicholas Latifi crashed his Williams with five laps to go.

F1 race director Michael Masi then failed to apply the rules correctly.

Normal protocol is to allow either all the lapped cars to unlap themselves so they do not interfere with racing on the restart, or leave all in place.

But Masi allowed only some of the lapped cars in between the leaders to unlap themselves.

That sent the five cars between Hamilton and Verstappen through so they were not in the way. But the others were left in place, including the two cars between Verstappen and third-placed Carlos Sainz Jr of Ferrari.

Masi also did not follow a rule that dictates that the race restarts at the end of the following lap after the lapped cars have been removed, and restarted it a lap early, enabling Verstappen, on fresh tyres, to pass Hamilton on the last lap.

On Thursday, the FIA said that team chiefs as well as representatives of the ruling body will meet next Wednesday to discuss the use of the safety car, while drivers will also be brought into the discussions.

"The outcome of the detailed analysis will be presented to the F1 commission in February, and final decisions will be announced at the World Motor Sport Council in Bahrain on March 18," added the FIA.

Newly elected FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has also asked Peter Bayer, the secretary general for motor sport, for "proposals to review and optimise the organisation of the FIA F1 structure for the 2022 season".

There has been criticism on social media of the apparent slow pace of the investigation into the controversial incident, with suggestions that Hamilton's future in the sport could depend on the outcome. The Briton has been silent since Abu Dhabi and is said to be "disillusioned" with F1.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2022, with the headline FIA inquiry results out in March. Subscribe