Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2021

Mercedes have “good legal basis” for appeal over Abu Dhabi GP – lawyer

2021 F1 season

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Mercedes would have a compelling case if they submit an appeal over the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix controversy, an expert in sports law has told RaceFans.

The team is considering whether to appeal after the stewards rejected its protest over the restart of the race on Sunday. Mercedes claimed the sport’s regulations were not followed correctly when the race was restarted at short notice, and after only five of the eight lapped cars had been allowed to un-lap themselves.

The controversy in Abu Dhabi has left the outcome of the title-deciding race of the 2021 season in doubt for two days. Lewis Hamilton lost the world championship to Max Verstappen when he was overtaken by his rival on the final lap after the restart.

Under the FIA’s rules, Mercedes have a 96-hour window to commit to submitting an appeal, around half of which has passed. Following a controversial season the team arrived in Abu Dhabi prepared for a legal wrangle, having enlisted the services of Paul Harris QC. He previously represented the team in 2013 when they appeared before an FIA tribunal over a Pirelli tyre test, and in July last year successfully represented Manchester City in a hearing of the Court of Arbitration for Sport over alleged breaches of UEFA’s club licensing and financial fair play regulations.

Safety Car, Yas Marina, 2021
Analysis: The four minutes that changed the destiny of the 2021 world championship
Nicholas Bamber, an associate in regulatory and commercial dispute resolution at Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP, believes Mercedes have good grounds to challenge the decision to reject their protest.

“Race director Michael Masi and the stewards’ interpretation of the FIA’s 2021 Sporting Regulations has been called into question by racing drivers, pundits and legal commentators alike,” he told RaceFans.

“In response to Mercedes’ protest, they concluded that article 15.3 gives the race director carte blanche to control the use of the safety car and overrides the procedure for the safety car stipulated at Article 48.12.

“This interpretation seems – on its face – to be inconsistent with a plain language view of the regulations. It also directly contradicts Michael Masi’s approach in similar circumstances at the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix where he stated ‘There is a requirement in the sporting regulations to wave all the lapped cars past’ [emphasis added] before the safety car returns to the pit lane and the race recommences ‘therefore the safety car period was a bit longer than what we would have normally wanted’ – i.e. the race director cannot overrule the appropriate application of the regulations, including the full application of article 48.12.”

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This could be considered a breach of the International Sporting Code, said Bamber. “Article 1.1.1 of the 2021 FIA International Sporting Code makes clear that the regulations are to be enforced ‘based on the fundamental principles of safety and sporting fairness’ [emphasis added]. Part of sporting fairness revolves around consistency of application of the rules of the sport. As such, there appears to be a good legal basis upon which Mercedes could seek to appeal.”

Report: F1’s midfield runners left “speechless” and confused by controversial late restart
If the matter was to go to an International Court of Appeal hearing, Bamber believes this apparent inconsistency could prove challenging to justify.

“In addition to repeating the reasoning set out in the stewards’ decision, the FIA would likely argue that any ambiguity in the regulations should be resolved in favour of Masi’s decision-making made in real-time, under the pressure of ensuring the race was completed safely and competitively – relying upon the sports law doctrine of respective ‘field of play’ decisions,” he said.

“Again, given the inconsistency in the application of the decision-making during the race itself, and against the same circumstances in prior races, this seems an unconvincing argument.”

As the field circulated behind the safety car at the end of the race Masi had a narrowing window of opportunity within which to organise a restart. He was also receiving communications from the two teams contesting the championship – Mercedes and Red Bull – the latter urging him to resume the race in order to give Verstappen a chance to pass Hamilton.

Bamber pointed out communication of this kind is highly unusual in professional sport. “Whilst a relatively recent move to make the FIA radio communications between teams and race director has proven popular with the F1 audience from an entertainment perspective, it has also highlighted the volume and questionable nature of communications sent mid-race by the teams,” he said.

“It is extremely unusual, if not unique, in a sporting context for team representatives to have a direct line to the officials in the middle of a contest. In sport it is extremely important for officials not to be inappropriately influenced, and this raises questions about the regulation of those communications going forward.

“In rugby we have seen a lengthy ban handed out to South Africa’s director of rugby for ‘egregious’ offences during the British and Irish Lions’ tour of South Africa, including his role in releasing a video criticising match officials’ performance. World Rugby’s independent committee found that his conduct had a ‘corrosive effect on the game more widely, as well as the viewing public and press’.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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534 comments on “Mercedes have “good legal basis” for appeal over Abu Dhabi GP – lawyer”

  1. Yes, Merc indeed has a good legal basis, everything considered.
    I would be unsurprised if Masi got sacked for this whole fiasco, the closest thing to race-fixing since Renault’s infamous Crashgate. Even if this happened, his successor mightn’t necessarily be any better in the long term, though.

    1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
      14th December 2021, 18:41

      Alonso still officially holds the Crashgate win, despite obvious foul play.
      Max will also, correctly, keep the WDC as he made a fair and legal pass during the last lap and crossed the finish line 1st.

      1. This isn’t a fight over who will be WDC. Please understand that the majority of Mercedes fans are not against Max. We are against the FIA. Max fans will also agree that there was a lot of questionable decisions that went against Max. Decisions have been maniuplated for spectacle, to make Netflix more interesting. Next season it could go against Max in favour of another driver. If you want this sport to remain fair, everybody should be pointing fingers at the FIA, and Masi.

      2. Ridiculous to compare the two , this is massively worse because unlike one car deliberately crashing to bring out sc (you also omit that this had zero direct effect on the WDC as the only reason massa lost points to Lewis was because of the botched pit stop fuel hose calamity and not the crash itself) the race directors DELIBERATELY interfered and manipulated in the race by breaking the set FIA regulations and standard protocol to force the restart whilst artificially placing max directly behind lewis removing ONLY the lapped traffic in front of max(if the race restarted with lapped traffic in place Lewis would win) this is WWE levels of corrupt to be honest .

        Do you realize that only reason merc didn’t box Lewis was because the strategists saw the severity of the crash and the race should’ve finished under a SC or possibly one green lap at the most extreme WITH all lapped cars in place(there was mathematically not enough laps left to allow ALL cars to unlap themselves) and merc had a safe 5 car buffer gap on restart.
        Are you also aware that Mercedes strategists calculated that even if the hazard was cleared super quick and there was just enough time for one green lap with lapped traffic in place Lewis could sprint away early and build a big enough gap to be safe whist max was ‘stuck’ behind lapped cars as he cant overtake them until start/finish line?
        But this was all thrown out of the window when masi himself or someone above him made up a new rule on the spot to order ONLY lapped cars in front of max to be removed so he had an easy run on new softs on lewis.

        So no this is far worse than Singapore 2008 and max only overtaken lewis on track for position because race control meddled in the restart order and deliberately placed max in a position to do that. Every other standard protocol scenario Lewis would have 99%+ chance of winning and oddly enough the only scenario where he has very low probability of winning is when race control invented a new rule during the sc just for max…

        This will be the argument used to get the race result reversed and Lewis crowned WDC because of the artificial and deliberate manipulation by race control at the the end of the race restart procedure created the overtake opportunity,plus the restart protocol was deliberately not followed hence there should’ve been one extra sc lap thus grid frozen under yellow condition and Lewis declared winner.

        1. Charlie Harris
          14th December 2021, 22:03

          Super post. Sums things up very well.

        2. Long post but I will resume it for you:
          Singapore was really not that bad because at the end it benefited my worshipped hero (even if this result was indirect, due to Felipe’s massive loss)
          Abu Dhabi was abhorrent because my worshipped hero was not presented the WDC in a platter

          1. Your comment is kind of ironic seen as Max was presented the championship on a platter! He deserved it, but your comments constantly amuse me, keep it up!

        3. I generally agree with most point, however, if the FIA made the call to allow all cars through much earlier, Lewis rightly will feel got some serious bad luck, but this inconsistent and late call has everyone annoyed.

          We are talking about fine print in the code rather than Max’s amazing world championship or Lewis’s 8th title, which we really should be.

          The FIA has screwed this up massively.

        4. Unfortunately there is no path for Lewis to become champion because time travel has not been invented yet so if the race did finish under caution there is no way to know %100 for sure if his car would have made it around the track for the last lap. We all assume it would have but circumstances would have been different i.e his team could have congratulating him on final lap and he wasn’t paying attention and could of crashed. They may find Masi made a big mistake and held accountable but it doesn’t change the fact that Max drove under the checkered flag to win.

        5. you are missing the point. as Verstappen didn’t infringe any rules the title can’t be taken away from him, as badly as the rules were or were not enforced by race director

          1. That is not true. If the appeal is upheld than the decision is clear. The race did not conclude correctly so the final positions at the end of the race cannot stand. The question then is how willing are the FIA, in their own court, to be honest and do what is essentially the right thing by restoring Hamilton to first place given the conditions that he should have faced had the regulations been correctly applied. The race should have ended either with no lapped cars allowed to unlap themselves, in which case Hamiltion would have won, or lapped cars were allowed to unlap themselves and only then can the race restart. In that case there would have been insufficient laps left before the race ended and Hamilton would be the winner.

          2. Who knows, the season could be nullified as a result in court, and no champion for 2021. or they chose to make nullify just the race result and announce Verstappen as champion on countback, or announce Hamilton/Verstappen joint champions (if both were to agree to it), as a final race result was not in place so countback is invalid. More likely i see the FIA sacking Masi and we all move on.

          3. Nope, in terms of the sport, this is worse than Singapore. Singapore was a single team deciding to cheat. Abu Dhabi was the actual race director cheating! And then backed up by the FIA with very weak and dubious arguments… The FIA are therefore complicit in the rule break and the manipulation of the race.

          4. Broadsword to Danny Boy
            15th December 2021, 9:03

            I agree
            However, if the court found in Merc’s favor might they consider suing for loss of earnings?

            Consider that the WCC win is worth >£20m more to a team than coming second (possibly a lot more), and that Red Bull pretty much admitted earlier in the year that if forced to choose they would prioritise WDC over WCC. That indicates that in terms of advertising kudos value the WDC win is worth much more than the WCC win, so that immediately gives a starting value for what has been lost.
            Furthermore, sponsors such as Ineos, Petronas and others pump collectively tens of millions into the team because of what they perceive to be the advertising value they get in return, a value that has arguably been significantly reduced by a very questionable action taken by a senior FIA official.
            If there is a good case to appeal then one might even consider that there could be a good case to sue in a proper court regardless of the appeal outcome (and I think we all know how the appeal will go).

            We’ll see.

          5. I wonder what would happen if a race was say 60 laps in length and the chequered flag was shown at the end of lap 59 (i know this has happened before)

            But what would happen if the flag was shown at end of lap 59, and then the car in 2nd legit overtook car in 1st (legit as in not due to car 1 slowing etc)

            The result is then declared based on positions at end of lap 58 (if i remember correctly). Would that be punishing the car that was 2nd but ended up finishing 1st despite it not being either drivers fault ?

            I think in that situation, the car that did finish 1st would be angered but those are the rules which are agreed before the season starts, its unfortunate but they are the rules

            Coming back to Abu Dhabi – it’s very unusual circumstances but what Masi done was neither drivers fault either and much like the flag being shown a lap too soon, the SC essentially pitted a lap too soon (as well as other things such as not all cars unlapping etc), would a lap roll back situation be feasible

            But as it won’t be in any rule book what should be done in such as situation – it wont be as simple as a roll back as that outcome is not written in black and white like the chequered flag mistake is

        6. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
          15th December 2021, 7:31

          @ccpbioweapon Well said. Verstappen is not to blame, but it stinks.

        7. All seem to conveniently forget the season was much longer than the final race. If you would turn the result of this race around, I can think of at least 4 other races that wrongfully benefited Lewis that then will have to be reviewed as well. Overall I think Lewis and Mercedes shouldnt have been in a position to fight for the title at the last race in the first place. The season was already so heavily tainted and scripted before the final race, it is a joke now to start focusing on the final one as if that was the decider. Instead of wasting time on that, it would be better to find out how Mercedes could have gotten such a grip on FIA decisions (&Pirelli) earlier in the season. And to focus on how to restructure FIA so this never ever happens again.

          1. And I can think of things like Max brake testing and dive bombing and not being penalised. We can all do it. The fact is in this case the race director did not follow the sporting regulations, it’s different.
            By the way I hope Max keeps his championship, he deserves it for sure, but your comment deserves a reply.

          2. Broadsword to Danny Boy
            15th December 2021, 9:13

            Stewarding decisions don’t need reviewing, the stewards are the stewards and the race director is the race director. The former are volunteers providing a subjective opinion on incidents when asked and the latter is an FIA paid official ensuring that the race rules are applied correctly, safely and fairly.

            The stewards provided their subjective opinions and that is done and dusted whether we like them or not. The Race director appears to have willfully invented new rules, or at very least invented a new interpretation of rules that contradict a previous statement he made regarding what the rule meant. This is an FIA official rewriting the FIA rules in the final minutes of a race that decides a championship, and something that really needs to be challenged and investigated so that teams and drivers know where they stand.

        8. Charne Carelse
          15th December 2021, 20:31

          Brilliantly said!!!

      3. There was foul play certainly but not by Alonso as far as anybody knows. You are entitled to your opinion of course but you have no facts to support it,

        1. @jelle-van-der-meer, re-reading your post, you don’t necessarily imply that the foul play was Alonso’s, so fair enough, ignore my previous post
          At Abu Dhabi there was a highly questionable decision, but no foul play whatsoever by Max as you well say.
          It is almost impossible to judge intentions but I find it very hard to buy that the dodgy decision about the lapped cars was made with the purpose of benefiting a particular driver. I agree with Norris, “that was for TV”. Legal or not, ending the season’s deciding race under the SC would have looked atrocious, and would have been perceived as handing the WDC in a platter to the driver ahead without giving the rival behind a chance. Besides, there have been way too many dodgy decisions benefiting the Merc side along the season for us to believe that FIA wanted to crown Max at whatever cost, as (almost) everybody and their uncle are yelling here.

          The pattern I glimpse is that Merc-favoring dodgy decisions where particularly egregious when they were falling behind. So I am now concluding that maybe what they wanted is to keep the competition as tight as possible for as long as possible, no matter how unfair it was for either team.

          1. There were far more Red Bull favouring calls, the worst one being Masi’s final call of the season, he practically gave Verstappen the championship by making what looks to be an illegal call.

          2. You are all wrong. The only Fight that mattered was the 1-2 to decide the championship. That’s the only reason Masi allowed to pass those few cars. Who cares the 3rd, 4th, and so on??

      4. This scenario is wildly different. In the case of crashgate, there was more of the race run. It would prove impossible to rewind the clock, and predict exactly what would have happened without the offence. Additionally, it was a competitor who committed the offence, and the competitor who should receive any penalty.

        In this case, we can know EXACTLY what would have happened if the SC had been brought in at the correct time – one lap later. The race would have ended under the SC, crowning Lewis the winner and champion. It’s a very rare scenario where they *can* change the result with confidence.

        Other evidence to support changing the result can be found in F1s history, albeit not in a direct equivalent. In previous years there were non-championship races, where a race wasn’t run fully to the FIA F1 regulations, and so they wouldn’t count towards the championship. In this case, the final lap(s) weren’t run according to the regulations, and therefore should not contribute to the race or championship result. There are two ways to handle this – classify the race as it was n laps previously (this has been done a couple of times before, when the chequered flag was show at the incorrect time – the race result was taken on the lap BEFORE that). This would leave Lewis the winner. Alternatively, throw out the entire race, which would leave Max the champion, but would effect anyone who changed championship standing in the final race.

        There are options to “fix” this problem, if the appeal is upheld (or indeed made), some of which won’t change the crowned champion, some of which will. I’m firmly of the opinion this shouldn’t be a contributing factor in that decision (just as the championship fight shouldn’t have been a factor in Masis’s decisions on Sundays).

        As for the argument about ending under the safety car looking atrocious – again this shouldn’t matter. Conduct a thought experiment: what would have happened if the crash had occurred one lap sooner? Masi could have kept to the regulations, we would have had our one lap sprint race, but MAYBE Merc would have pitted Lewis as there is now a much higher chance of there being time for a racing lap. We would have had our thrilling finish – indeed even better, as it would have been two cars on the same tired, all or nothing for one lap, instead of the inevitable mugging that actually happened.

        Re-run that thought experiment if the crash had happened one lap later – even with changing the rules, there was never going to be time to restart the race. Masi might have been able to get away with a red flag and restart, but that’s dubious as there wasn’t really a safety case to do so (if there was, that would have happened anyway). Instead we would have finished under the SC, and there was nothing anyone could have done about it. No one would have questioned that Lewis’s 11 second lead before the SC meant the race win was well earned (well, some people would have questioned it – there are always some people. But there wouldn’t have been the option.

        So the crash occurring a lap either side would have resulted in either no need to or no opportunity to change/break the rules. Are we really saying because the crash happened on exactly that lap, using a vastly different procedure is ‘based on the fundamental principles of safety and sporting fairness’. It’s like saying in football, “if a corner kick is awarded in the 88th minute – no earlier and no later – it can be taken as a penalty from the penalty spot, and we’re not going to warn anyone about it”.

        If the appeal is upheld, the result cannot stand. It would render the entirety of the regulations, stewardship, regulation and oversight entirely pointless. It would mean that Masi can do ANYTHING he likes on a race weekend, and no one would be able to do anything about the result.

      5. The cereal guy
        15th December 2021, 17:58

        The overtake wouldn’t have happened, had the proper safety car procedure been followed. Masi had 3 options: 1st – allow all lapped cars to un-lap themselves and wait for them to catch up to the back of the queue before the safety car comes in. That is the normal procedure that has always been applied. The race would have finished under the safety car due to the lack of remaining laps. That’s part of the sport, and can and should be allowed to happen. But he wanted to allow racing to go on, so the 2nd option was to not allow any car to unlap itself, and have that one final lap under green flag. That would have probably (but not certainly) been enough of a gap for Lewis to make it to the finish line on his worn hard tyres. I have never seen this option chosen before. But Masi chose an even more complicated one, which is to cherry-pick which cars could unlap themselves, AND he sent the safety car in before those cars reached the end of the queue. This literally, LITERALLY, gave the win to Max. How can one, in the name of fairness, opt for an unprecedented solution that penalises the driver who led the race from beginning to end, and performed the best in the race? He should have remained neutral and followed the normal safety car procedure by the book. The 3rd option would have been to bring out red flag, and neutralise the race to allow everybody to change to softs and decide the outcome in the final lap on an equal basis. That would have also been somewhat controversial, but at least fair. Masi tried to not interfere with racing, and he ended up interfering not only with the result, but with the championship, and that is not acceptable. Max deserves to be a champion because he’s a top driver, but he did not deserve the win in Abu Dhabi, and you know it. It was beyond “just racing”, beyond “doing it on track”, beyond normal variability of the sport. It was an arbitrary, unprecedented and controversial decision that gave him the win.

        I still doubt that the title winner will change, and it’s an ugly way to finish it all. but Mercedes is right to protest.

    2. The bit that this lawyer forgets is that Masi has been consistently inconsistent.
      ‘I rest my case, your honour.’

      1. Brilliant!

      2. I agree. However he has inconsistently applied rules that are vague and open to interpretation. The rules broken here were not open to interpretation and are very clear.

        1. Absolutely.

          For an explainer of why Michael Masi’s decision went completely against the clear cut rules, see here: 2021 Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Lap 57: What Michael Masi did Vs what he should have done. (goes to two flow diagram images on IMGUR).

    3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      14th December 2021, 19:11

      @jerejj it’s way worse than crashgate as it involved a race win and a championship and was done by F1.

      The saddest part is that everyone watching it unfold knew what was going to happen. We expected foul play from F1. Mercedes expected foul play. Red Bull was hoping for foul play. The sport has to have a minimum of trust and that trust has disappeared between the teams and F1.

      The trust is broken and I’m not convinced that Masi was the reason this happened.

      1. @freelittlebirds Indeed. Crashgate got merely done by a competitor, while this one was governing body’s doing out of all.

    4. Masi did exactly what he was paid to do. Deliver the championship to Max. He may have taken it up to the last minute, but he delivered on what he was supposed to do in the end. I don’t think Liberty will scapegoat him. He’s too loyal.

      1. If Masi was trying to help VER win the championship why didn’t he penalise HAM for the turn 6 lap one incident.

        None of the many 1000s of posters on this site and others has been able to answer that.

        Masi might be bad at his job, the FIA might well have wanted to up the spectacle, but this provides no proof that they wanted VER to win or fixed the result.

        1. Because they can’t. It just bitterness. Pure bitterness.

        2. Masi couldn’t penalise Hamilton. He referred it to the stewards, who sounds that no further action was necessary.

          I disagree with that call as I have disagreed with several similar calls this year, but that specific one wasn’t Masi’s call.

          1. He didn’t refer it to the stewards as it was never investigated

          2. I’ve said this before on another article but that was the correct call for the lap 1 “incident” that people keep talking about to counter problems with the end of the race.

            Max completely missed the apex of turn 6 and nearly went off the road himself. Around 90% of Max’s car was across the white line on the outside of the corner. That is anything but leaving a cars-width for Lewis to stay on track. I consider it the same as Nico Rosberg’s manoeuvre in Austria, in both cases one driver has overshot the corner apex and driven Lewis off the road to gain an unfair advantage.

            Absolutely right that there wasn’t a penalty against Lewis.

          3. Max got penalized when he wasn’t left room in the previous race.

          4. @skydiverian I disagree – I think Max sufficiently made the corner. It was an aggressive move that one day will go wrong and he should be slapped with a heavy penalty when it does, but that wasn’t Sunday. Lewis should have given the place back – but considering how vehemently Red Bull were arguing for “let them race” in Brazil, I just shrugged. Small decisions like that get made strangely all the time. It’s in an entirely different league to what happened at the end of the race.

          5. I would agree with you were Max the defender @fluxsource but he was the attacker coming from way way back and then crowding a competitor off what was the inside of the next corner.
            I’ve actually been flabagasted by so many people justifying that as having meant Lewis should hand the place back just because he avoided a collision. This is F1 not banger racing.

          6. @Adam Hardwick

            Utter tosh. Max made no attempt to make the corner until he had sufficiently run Lewis off the road. He made zero attempt to leave room for Lewis and hence Lewis had no option but to leave the track or crash into Max. Max made the move far too late as he was so far back. That is why the lead was allowed to be kept by Hamilton. Now under normal circumstances Max may have been given a penalty for that move as he forced another car off the track. However the stewards took into account that Lewis had not lost out and so were lenient on both the drivers.

          7. I think the whole Masi balls-up has robbed us of dissecting this properly.

            For the record, I would have ordered Hamilton to give the place up. I would also have shown Max the black and white flag because, while I thought the move legal, I also thought it very unsporting.

            However, if I remember correctly from comments made after Silverstone, the “rules of engagement” allow a driver on the inside of the corner to “own” it and not leave a cars’ width on the exit only if they were “substantially alongside” on turn in. Now, I haven’t seen a replay (TBH I really want to forget the entire race, the entire season even, after that farce of an ending), but I think that’s crucial. Was Max “substantially alongside” at the turn in point for the corner, or was he further back and dive-bombed the corner? If the former, Lewis should have given the place up, whereas if the latter, Max didn’t leave enough space on the exit of the corner.

            That sad, I doubt even that applied here. I think it was a combination of first-corner leniency and the “let them race” philosophy. Horner has been pushing for the stewards not to intervene all season, and so they didn’t, just as they didn’t in Brazil.

          8. @drmouse I think I largely agree with you, but just wanted to add another though – throughout the season, there has been mention of “at turn in” when discussing disputes about corners, without anyone clarifying who’s turn in they’re referring to. The defender? The attacker? The “ideal” turn in point? They could all be very different, and depending on which you pick to apply the rules to the outcome could be very different.

            From what I remember of the corner, by the time Lewis turned in, Max was ahead. But at the point Max tuned in he was still behind, although it was a very shallow turn in, and he was at least partially along side.

        3. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
          14th December 2021, 19:45

          The people who claim Garry Connelly is biased against Max have disappeared as well!

        4. Lap one incident is again a creation of max aggressive driving as he was aware that he can brake late into the corner and if there was a crash he would be champion, similarly when he was third in saudi he was very cautious with bottas in turn 1 for me thats called dirty driving, and its not the first time he did that and if you guys study the pattern he did several overtakes before also but if you see the last four races he has done that only with hamilton as he was aware that crashing is for his benefit with others he was very cautious, though i am not a fan of hamilton as well but the way the whole season has ended Max was not a deserving champion based on the driver ethics and sportsmanship if he was fighting the championship with a younger driver they would have crashed atleast 10 times its just that lewis is a legend were he has avoided it many times. towards the last lap i should remind you all that forget about lewis and max the race was happening between all the drivers there were ferrari, maclaren and others masi saw only two to make it entertaining if they allowed fair racing even sainz might have won the race its just like there are only two drivers on the track its all about creating headlines and making money as it is good way or bad way publicity and attention always bring huge sums of money.

        5. Because penalising drivers is not Masi’s job, That’s the job of the race stewards and Masi has nothing to do with them (yes, he can refer an incident to them, but they make the decision, not Masi).

        6. My guess would be that they were being cautious after several weeks of light touches/ignoring Max. After Brazil T4 and BrakeTestGate, the figured “super max” would be able to win anyway. And after that the opportunity to do anything about it seems to be gone. Until that fateful safety car…

        7. why didn’t he penalise HAM for the turn 6 lap one incident.

          Because that would’ve been even more obvious. Getting a penalty for getting shoved off the track?

      2. Michael masi does not work for liberty media. The eu made it clear 20 years ago that the commercial rights holders (liberty media, before them bernie) can have no influence over fia rules. And since the fia is based in Paris they have ro follow eu rules

        1. Which is a really interesting in point…if Mercedes had some evidence of conclusion or influence between the rights holder and the FIA to maximise the entertainment value over sporting regulations, then that could potential open the option of civil proceedings within a French court (rather than a sporting tribunal) and grant the power of discovery (something the FIA would likely want to avoid).

      3. Of course this fuels the controversies and there will be interesting books in a few years about what pressure Masi had or hadn’t.
        The most interesting question to me is not only if the legal basis is good for appeal but if it is in Mercedes interest to proceed with the appeal. F1 got a lot of exposure this season and especially this last race. Yes, few fans are threatening to quit but how many are actually doing it, and on the other hand I hear people getting interested in the sport because of this season and change of regulation next year.

        By not protesting, Mercedes can ride the popularity wave, it might improve the way people look at their hybrid dominance as more challenged following this year and they will probably grow their support base. On top of that, they will have slightly more testing hours than RedBull in a pivotal season.

        I still don’t agree with the way the situation was handled, but playing the devil’s advocate, all is not black for Mercedes.

        1. Testing hours are based on WCC standings I believe

      4. Trying to take a wdc away is what happened to Schumacher in 94. If they wanted max to win they wouldn’t have left it to chance (likely but no guarantee he makes that pass). They would’ve given lewis a grid penalty in Saudi Arabia. They would’ve given lewis a grid penalty for Monza and a harsher penalty in Silverstone. Probably wouldn’t have changed the pit stop rules.

    5. Masi will never get fired. Instead, he will receive a big bonus for his decision, as the whole world is talking about Formula 1 day after day now. This is the best publicity for the sport ever made and the responsible for this is Michael Masi, so from the commercial point of view that was a golden decision by him. More people will follow the sport after this pure hardcore. Was this “manipulated”? Big bosses don’t care, the yelling is what matters. Welcome in the real world.

      1. He will not get fired because doing so would mean the FIA admitting their own Race Director broke the rules and in doing so manipulated the race and the championship…

        If they do that then they are even more open to being sued by Merc and all the other teams that were affected by the decision.

        1. Broadsword to Danny Boy
          15th December 2021, 9:20

          NO, but he may be ‘asked to resign’ quietly, probably with a checkbook being waved at him.

    6. They have great legal basis, pulling all tg
      He call merc swayed over the years to haunt FOM back.

    7. “FIA would likely argue that any ambiguity in the regulations should be resolved in favour of Masi’s decision-making made in real-time, under the pressure of ensuring the race was completed safely and competitively”.
      There is no ambiguity. Very clear 1. RD did not follow SC procedures. 2. RD over-rule decision compromise Mercedes strategy.

    8. Christmas in Michael Masi’s household:

      It’s 7am on Christmas morning and his young children excitedly run into their parent’s bedroom in anticipation of opening their presents.

      Child 1: “Merry Christmas Mum, Merry Christmas Dad!”

      Michael: “What do you mean, Merry Christmas? It’s Easter…”

      1. Haha 😂 😂😂

    9. Only Britain taking about race fixing and Masi. Entire rest of the world doesn’t.

      It’s just prejudgment and narrow minded views.

      Entire rest of the world seeing nothing wrong and taking about luck for one and unluck for another, as it happened multiple times through the season.

      1. @regs Luck is fine. A late safety car is fine. Not following the rules in order to deliberately change the outcome of the race is not fine.

        1. Not following rules was the message that lapped cars won’t be allowed to overtake. That was the cheat for Hamilton.

          Second message was correct, though only applied to the party of peloton. But Masi did have an authority for that. And it wouldn’t change anything for Verstappen and Hamilton. Lapped cars are not necessary to line up behind for restart. They should only make effort to catch the peloton.

          If not first illegal message that took a lap to fix there would be enough time for a lap.

          And it sounds like – we cheated and you used shady methods to fix that cheat, so we should be given position back.

          1. @regs That’s a bizarre reading of the situation. The initial call to not allowed lapped cars to pass was perfectly legal. It’s rare since the un-lapping rule has been brought in, but there’s no rule breaking there. You can absolutely argue that it was an unfair decision – I would have some sympathy for that. But it didn’t contravene any of the rules.

            I don’t agree that Masi had authority to only let some cars pass, but to be honest, it’s largely irrelevant, because the real problem is the next rule breaking – one that doesn’t rest in interpreting an ambiguous sentence. The safety car was required to stay out for one more lap. No ifs, no buts – once a single car was allowed passed the safety car, the rules explicitly state there MUST be another lap under the safety car following it. There is no getting away from it.

          2. @fluxsource
            That’s normal reading. Unprejudiced. I’m not British, not even west European, not Hamilton fan, not Verstappen fan. That’s how entire world reading it. Only British media is being salty. For the rest nothing wrong happened. One for more lucky on restart and was smarter to stop for new tyres. Lewis had enough luck with safety cars and red flags on his own this season. Nothing bizarre on this.

          3. @regs I sincerely doubt you have the authority or knowledge to speak for the “entire world”. Suggesting that there is nothing bizarre about this is absurd. Perfectly reasonable to disagree about what should happen next, but saying what happened was totally normal is just incorrect.

          4. @fluxsource
            I do. I’m not prejudiced, i’m not in conflict of interests anyhow. And as i’m not English-speaker, i gather my information from all around the world, not just within English-language bubble.

            So once again, only British media is all about this.

    10. Normally, lapped cars are allowed to overtake if it safe to do so. It would have therefore been strange if lapped cars would not be allowed to overtake.

      For Hamilton it was just a piece of back luck that Latifi crash happend, because he had to make a quick decision;
      option a) don’t pit, remain in the lead and hope to finish behind the safety car
      option b) pit, potentially give up the lead, but have fresh tyres and hope to have one chance to overtake in the final round.

      Eventually, it played out differently than he hoped for, but this was also because he gambled on option a).
      Bad luck is also part of motorsport.
      So instead of fingerpointing, it would be better to accept it like a sportsman and move on.

      Mercedes bringing a laywer to the final race, implies that they were planning to protest anyway, if they were to lose.
      Besides Hamilton fanboys, the rest of the world will see the protests and potential appeal as being a bad loser.

    11. Well, there are no guarantees his successor would be more competent, though Masi has set the bar pretty low in that regard.
      However, he’d have Massi’s firing as cautionary example, to warn him not to try to rig race results by abusing or ignoring both the regulations and his own recent rulings.

  2. Well, good for them.

  3. Mercedes go get justice and save this sport

    1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
      14th December 2021, 18:37

      The only thing Mercedes would achieve would be to drag the sport down even further.

      1. Staying silent would drag the sport down further. This is bigger than a single race or even a championship.

      2. Contrive2Survive
        14th December 2021, 18:49

        Did you see what happened at the race yesterday?, how can the ‘sport’ and I now use that term very loosely in F1’s case, be dragged down any further, that’s impossible:p

      3. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
        14th December 2021, 18:57

        The sport needs a kick up the backside then if it is already down.

      4. It can’t get any lower Barry. Plus it isn’t actually a sport, it’s now an entertainment series.

        1. It can just show the part where toto got rebuked rightly so by masi.
          Unbelievable and a stain on F1.
          The way Toto seems to think he can influence the RD by screaming at him is embarrasing.

          1. Well, lets turn this around. Red Bull personnel is ob recorder telling the race director “they only need one lap” just before getting the backmarkers out of the way. lets say the restart is found to have been illegal- was Red Bull complicit in trying to fix the outcome? could this be sanctionable?

          2. *on record damnit

          3. Nice try, but Toto is in the right on this one. The rules simply haven’t been followed, apparently to “spice up the show”. Which is an entertainment decision, not a sporting fairness decision.

          4. erikje yes, everyone knows the only person allowed to influence Masi is Horner.

          5. Well, I can imagine Wolff is upset though after all the dealing made by Mercedes on wings, tyres and Lewis favoring red flags. Seriously, Mercedes complaining about race control is a bigger joke than Masi’s clumsy season. They should be the last ones to say something. They shouldnt have been in the fight in the first place as the season should have been over races ago. Tainted season, heavily influenced by Mercedes in back rooms. Wouldnt be surprised if some serious corruption was discovered.

          6. The race director lowering himself to that level with a patronising Netflix response was embarrassing. He should be above that.

          7. Mayrton you conveniently forgot where one part of the wing was 86mm and they were put to the back of the flgrid I see? Obviously maFiA helping Mercedes right?

        2. Ben
          14th December 2021, 19:01
          It can’t get any lower Barry. Plus it isn’t actually a sport, it’s now an entertainment series.

          If I was Michael Masi, I would call my autobiography book like this: “Hands up! It’s called a bank robbery …oh sorry …a motor race.”

      5. I imagine Mercedes is thinking about that, and that’s why they’ve not lodged an appeal yet.

        Quite a lot to be gained in terms of reputation by letting this one go and congratulating Max and RBR (as Newey said, they built a faster car). Mercedes have won the WCC anyway.

        1. Yeah I absolutely agree @dang they should let it go. I read somewhere that Hamilton was trying to get the bosses to let it go also, not sure how accurate the source was but it would make sense.