The FIA has released a statement over the safety car debate that saw Max Verstappen clinch the 2021 title from Lewis Hamilton at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The governing body insisted that a “detailed analysis and clarification exercise” with all teams will take place to explain the procedure that ultimately saw Hamilton lose out on a record-breaking eighth title.
The British driver was leading the race by 11 seconds in the final laps when Williams’s driver Nicholas Latifi collided with the barriers, bringing about a yellow flag and a safety car.
Red Bull quickly opted to pit Verstappen for fresh soft Pirellis, meanwhile, their efforts to win seemed unreachable as race director Michael Masi said that the lapped cars could not overtake the safety vehicle – leaving five cars between Verstappen and Hamilton in the final stretch.
However, after stern words from Team Principals on both sides of the rivalry the stewards allowed the cars between Hamilton and the Dutchman to unlap themselves, in order to ensure a final lap of racing.
At the restart, there was no hope of holding off the Red Bull on brand new tyres, and the fate of the race was quickly decided after a swift overtake by the Dutchman.
Controversy has been rife in the days that have followed the controversial race end, and today, the FIA has now responded, saying there had been a “misunderstanding” and that the ongoing arguments are unfairly tarnishing Verstappen’s first win.
“The FIA’s primary responsibility at any event is to ensure the safety of everyone involved and the integrity of the sport,” the statement read.
“The circumstances surrounding the use of the Safety Car following the incident of driver Nicholas Latifi, and the related communications between the FIA Race Direction team and the Formula 1 teams, have notably generated significant misunderstanding and reactions from Formula 1 teams, drivers and fans, an argument that is currently tarnishing the image of the Championship and the due celebration of the first Drivers’ World Championship title won by Max Verstappen and the eighth consecutive Constructors’ World Championship title won by Mercedes.”
The matter will now be mulled over with all of the teams and drivers in order “to draw any lessons from this situation and provide clarity to all participants, media, and fans about the current regulations.”
The FIA also promised to “propose to the Formula 1 Commission to give a clear mandate for study and proposal to the Sporting Advisory Committee, with the support of Formula 1 drivers, so that any identified meaningful feedback and conclusions be made before the beginning of the 2022 season.”