Formula One: Motor sports body to 'analyse' way Max Verstappen won title

Max Verstappen crosses the finish line during the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix on Dec 12, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP, REUTERS) - The International Automobile Federation (FIA) said on Wednesday (Dec 15) that it will undertake a "detailed analysis" of the events that allowed Max Verstappen to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and take the world title.

Formula One race director Michael Masi, an FIA official, sparked uproar for the way in which he ended a late safety car period in Sunday's race and handed an advantage to Verstappen, who had pitted for fresh tyres.

The usual protocol is for all lapped cars to pass the safety car before racing resumes, but in this case only the cars between Verstappen and Mercedes' race leader Lewis Hamilton, on older tyres, were cleared.

Verstappen then had a clear run to overtake seven-time world champion Hamilton on the last lap of their winner-takes-all battle.

Hamilton, the sport's most successful driver, said over the radio he felt the race had been manipulated. His fans have declared the driver robbed while others have expressed concern that Formula One put entertainment and excitement over sporting integrity.

Mercedes are still considering an appeal, with the deadline shortly before Verstappen is due to be handed the champion's trophy in Paris on Thursday night.

The FIA said that, following a proposal by outgoing president Jean Todt, "a detailed analysis and clarification exercise for the future with all relevant parties will now take place".

It added that "this matter will be discussed... with all the teams and drivers to draw any lessons from this situation and clarity to be provided to the participants, media, and fans about the current regulations to preserve the competitive nature of our sport".

It said that the controversy was "tarnishing the image of the Championship and the due celebration of the first Drivers' World Championship title won by Max Verstappen".

Verstappen will receive his trophy at the FIA awards ceremony on Thursday evening.

The FIA aimed for feedback and conclusions before the start of next season.

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