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F1 Abu Dhabi 2021: no way to run a motor race

Bryan Edwards

I'll set out my position in the first line so no one can be in any doubt: Max Verstappen is a deserving world motor racing champion.

But the sport, the drivers and the fans have been done a grave disservice by the Race Director, Michael Masi, who has capped off a season where he has demonstrated that he is unable to make a final decision and that he is easily swayed by the pleas of team principles who have learned that he can be easily bullied.

Mercedes, of course, appealed to the Stewards who have the power to review the Race Director's decisions. The Stewards might have been reading twitter because their reasoning was taken straight out of some of those there that are actually knowledgeable. The Race Director "may" allow "any" cars to unlap themselves and ultimately he has the final say over all matters relating to the Safety Car. Mercedes asked for a dumb remedy: that the race should be counted back to the end of the previous lap but that's what happens when there is a red flag and there wasn't one. So the stewards rejected the appeal and ordered Mercedes to forfeit the appeal fee which implies they thought the appeal without merit. In particular, they said "may" does not mean "must" and "any" does not mean "all".

Other teams have reason to complain: everyone from seventh down was marked as being a lap down: if standard procedure had been followed and "all" cars allowed through then their classification would have been different. But Masi's clear intention was that, if they had been allowed through, they would not have got through before the Safety Car had to start the last lap and then the race would have not have restarted and Hamilton would have won.

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