FIA begins 'thorough' Abu Dhabi review, sets deadline for conclusions

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The FIA has begun its review into what can be done following the controversial late Safety Car in the Formula 1 season finale in Abu Dhabi last month.

Fallout has been massive since the race at Yas Marina, with accusations that race director Michael Masi manipulated the championship outcome by allowing only the five lapped cars between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen to overtake before immediately restarting the race for a final lap duel.

Verstappen, with much faster tyres on his car, would use this significant advantage to pass Hamilton for the win and also his first F1 title.

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This dismayed Mercedes who quickly protested the result arguing Masi had applied the rules incorrectly, but that was thrown out with the FIA arguing a subsection of the Safety Car regulations did permit the race director to make the decisions he did.

Mercedes then lodged an intent to appeal but this was withdrawn after then FIA president Jean Todt ordered a "detailed analysis" into the decisions taken in Abu Dhabi to see what action could be taken, with the Brackley-based team vowing to hold the governing body "accountable".

Todt's successor as FIA president, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, also promised to make the matter his top priority, but since then news on the review has been scarce.

As a result, in recent days, new rumours and speculation have emerged over the future of Hamilton, who has remained publicly silent since giving a gracious post-race interview in Abu Dhabi.

Cited sources at Mercedes have claimed the seven-time world champion is waiting to see the outcome of the governing body's review before committing to race in the 2022 F1 season.


Now though new details are emerging, with the FIA confirming to Sky Sports that investigations began on Monday, with interviews set to take place with drivers, teams, stewards and Michael Masi himself.

President Sulayem is believed to be personally involved as he sees the review as a matter of urgency, alongside General Secretary of Motorsport, Peter Bayer, who is heading up the process.

According to a spokesperson, the review will be "thorough, objective and transparent, with the FIA aiming to have the final conclusions by February 3, the date for the next World Motorsport Council meeting.

Whether that deadline has any impact on Hamilton's decision is hard to tell. Pre-season testing will begin on February 23 in Barcelona but preparations for the year ahead are already getting underway in the factory.