Sports

F1 changes safety car rules to avoid repeat of Abu Dhabi controversy


Lewis Hamilton

British Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton after the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit in the Emirate city of Abu Dhabi on December 13, 2020. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE/POOL/ AFP)

Formula One’s governing body made an adjustment to safety car rules on Tuesday to avoid a repeat of the controversy that erupted after last year’s title-deciding race in Abu Dhabi.

Race director Michael Masi, who was replaced last month, changed the procedure in the lap ending at Yas Marina in a move that allows Max Verstappen of Red Bull to overtake Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and claim the title.

Otherwise, Hamilton would have had a record eighth championship.

The FIA ​​governing body has laid out in a revised version of the 2022 sports regulations that ‘all’, rather than ‘any’ more ambiguous, cars with a roof must unfurl by itself before restart.

Masi allowed the race to continue after only the cars that overturned between Verstappen and Hamilton, then in the lead, unfurled themselves.

That allows enough time for one final lap, with the Dutchman on new tires and able to overtake his title rival.

Masi has since been replaced by two officials Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, who will share the job of race director as part of a broader restructuring of the refereeing process.

They will be supported by FIA celebrity Herbie Blash, who will return as a permanent senior adviser, having retired in 2016 after 50 years in the sport. Blash was formerly an assistant to late race director Charlie Whiting.

The new season will begin in Bahrain this weekend.

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