Did Formula 1 Break Their OWN RULES? | The F1 Breakdown | Abu Dhabi GP

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So in that chaotic last grand prix at Abu Dhabi, all of the regulations seemed to go out of the window. Latifi crashed and sparked it all, and with only four laps to go, the Race Dictator (I mean Race Director), Michael Masi made some (odd) decisions - but did he break his own rules?

Well, Mercedes (predictably) say yes, and Red Bull (predictably) say no. So let's go over the rules, as well as the arguments from both sides. Let’s go.



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So as we know, on lap 54 out of 58 - Latifi stuck it in the wall. Meaning that (at least) 2 or 3 laps of Safety car was needed to clear up both the Williams and its bargeboards that were scattered over the track.

So at this point, Lewis couldn’t pit - for fear of losing track position to Max and then the race not getting started again - that would have been a real blunder - imagine.

So Lewis stayed out, and Red Bull (for obvious reasons) tried something different and boxed Max for some softs. However, half the field didn’t follow Max in. Leaving Norris, Alonso, Ocon, LeClerc and Vettel who passed - putting them between Hamilton and Verstappen.

So Michael Masi, the Race Director has a few choices here.

Either Red Flag the race, meaning the order would be restored, everyone could change tyres and there would be a fair 1v1, 4 lap battle for the championship.

But Masi would have had to call that straight away. And it would’ve been an unusual call when neither the driver, nor barrier, looked to be damaged.


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💬 Comments
Author

Right, which option would you have picked if you were Masi? What do you think was the fairest option?

Keep those comments civil, just like you guys normally do! Cheers for watching guys, *don't forget to subscribe!*

Author — Driver61

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In a sport where you can get disqualified from qualifying for a 1mm discrepancy in a rear wing, how is it that the rules aren’t kept as strictly for the director, stewards and FIA?!?

Author — Pro_Blunder

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Bah, at the end of the day, it seems senseless to have ANY rules if there's a rule saying that the RD can decide not to follow them... and honestly, I can't blame Mercedes for not pitting, so close to a race end that could have ended under caution. If Red Bull were in that position, I doubt they would have pitted either.

Author — JCChaconJr

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I m sure some will have said but those cars allowed to unlap themselves were denied the chance of finishing in the positions they had been before the ruling by masi. So all those teams were disadvantaged also. This is more than just Lewis and max. It affected detrimentally the whole race order.

Author — Jnc1

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What I‘m wondering is: Was there only racing between P1 and P2? Why didn‘t Masi care about the lapped cars between P2 and P3 or even behind P3? Are these guys not racing? If Verstappen had a direct opponent on his rear wing, wouldn‘t that (maybe) effect the outcome?
Masi had quite some options, he was surely under huge pressure, but in my eyes: He chose the only, let‘s call it „dumb“ option…

Author — Fabian Kummer

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My question is what's the point of rules when there are other rules that in effect say they can be ignored by the Race Director. How can teams make important strategy decisions when the rules on which they base those decisions can just be ignored with no notice given. Surely the overide rules should only be used where safety is an issue, not simply to make a better TV spectical. The FIA will never admit the end of this race was a shambles but that is what it was.

Author — J How

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Sainz"s final lap was compromised by the decision- he was denied the opportunity to challenge for second place.

Author — Alec Simpson

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I love Max’s ferocity as a driver. I love Lewis’s incredible ability to constantly improve and overcome. I love good racing, no matter who the drivers are. And what Masi and the FIA have done here has really screwed the pooch.
This moment has been years in the making, through Bernie Ecclestone’s previous concord agreement that had the teams involved in virtually every decision-making process. (An instance of having the foxes guard the hen-house if there ever was one.) The whole situation and the rule book need to be re-examined. Lewis said it, and he’s right: there isn’t clarity on how the rules are applied. Every situation is handled on a bespoke basis, leaving teams and drivers with no idea of how to approach any given situation.
Masi clearly made a choice that was at minimum unconventional and strange. That can’t happen.
Personally, I feel there needs to be less communication from teams to the race director. None, in fact. And the race director should be stripped of decision-making powers that can alter a race. He should be executing rules, not deciding when, if or how they are applied. And finally, F1 should just adopt a simple solution: with less than 10 laps remaining, obligatory safety car until all debris is cleared, followed by a green-white-checker just as in NASCAR. Everyone will k ow what to expect and everyone will make decisions accordingly.

Author — Daniel Akerman

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It’s insane how the teams have a direct phone line to the race director. I was never on board with this because they could influence him. Bizarre

Author — delusionalaar

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Rules only work when they are easy to understand.The rules should be you resume the race as it was when it was stopped .Meaning Hamilton starts behind the safety car .Then the 4 cars start were they were behind him same distance and time at that moment behind Hamilton then verstappen . Verstappen was given two advantages 1 he didn't have to make up 11 secs .2 he didn't have to pass the 4 cars Hamilton had to pass to maintain this 11 second lead .That's the easiest way to do it start the race as It was when it stopped .

Author — paulumbo

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Have I been living under a rock? It was my understanding that Mercedes had, reluctantly, accepted the final decision and were moving on. However, I understand why they are taking it to an independent court because this is too important to be brushed under the carpet.
Rules and guidelines are there for a reason. A football referee can't send off the goalkeepers and a couple of defenders from each team to hasten a goal in the World Cup final.
Why should Massi treat this race differently than any other?

Author — michael lavery

Author

How about Sainz? 100% gets forgotten in that mess. He had a chance to fight for that win. That decision to only let the lap cars between LH and MV totally disregards every other competitor.
As you mentioned in this video he pretty much did said exactly that.

Put the spectacle before the sport

Author — Brent McKnight

Author

It was premeditated, on lap 53 the entry of the safety car Masi informed everyone exactly on this lap all cars will remain in the position they are in if the race restarts making Mercedes to not change tyres. Masi saw just as we all saw Hamilton was on old tyres and Verstappen had just put on new softs. Then on the penultimate lap, on lap 57 he took the opposite decision to the one he had informed everyone, once the time for Mercedes to change tyres had run out, he informed everyone to remove the 5 cars between Hamilton and Verstappen. He lured Mercedes into not changing tyres between lap 53-56 and changed the rule on lap 57 this is why hamilton said it was manipulated. This is a crime, its spot-fixing

Author — Asia Osman

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I was expecting a safety car ending, as much as I didn't want that, given the precedent established in the past. Great videos! Thanks!

Author — Joseph Doré

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I expect the FIA to absolve themselves of any guilt/responsibility, turn up next season with even more ambiguity in the rules and Masi still the head of the clowns.

Author — JanusDarke

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“It’s a motor race, ” but his decision pretty much made the first 54 laps null and void. I don’t think anyone could have made the right call in that moment, but the decision to finish the race not under safety car and after the second place driver has pitted for softs, after he allowed only the cars between the race leaders to pass, you can’t say it was a fair restart. It was the smart move to stay out for Lewis because he kept track position and if it wasn’t red flagged and Max pitted, either all lapped cars should’ve been let through, leading to a possible win under SC or Max should’ve had to fight from position. But instead, he made a decision that gave Max the clear advantage. Regardless of popular opinion, the fairest way to end that race was under safety car or red flagged. I do believe Masi did everything to his best ability to ensure that the race didn’t end under SC but by doing that, he failed to realize that it was his decision, not the teams nor the drivers, that determined the Championship.

Author — DJ Benny

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6:20 the issue which I’m fairly certain Merc will press at ICA is 48.15. Masi’s defense is perfectly fine until it invokes a rule that would force the race to end under SC if they go one more turn to start the final lap thus giving motivation to start the race. I was fine with the “any” vs “all” wiggle room as well as overriding authority - but not at the expense of other rules. If the results hold, the FIA have just said rules don’t matter, sometimes. You’d think Totd who won at ICA in 99 via Ferrari’s Suzuka challenge would be paying attention to this. Ppl keep talking about the damage to F1’s reputation but pending what happens next, it’s the FIA under the microscope

Author — CYMotorsport

Author

Sometimes a referee has to make a decision likely to change a major result, akin to awarding a penalty late in stoppage time. When such things happen it’s essential to stick to an absolutely dry & conservative application of the rules in keeping with how they are most usually & typically applied, that’s to say, to act consistent with precedent. Indeed it could be argued that where the rules are not entirely explicitly clear, this has been resolved by precedent.
When crucial decisions are made consistently with past decisions, the justification is then simple: them's the rules that everyone knows and understands. That did not seem at all to be the case on this occasion: even if the decision can be presented as technically in keeping with the rule book, it was a novel interpretation apparently invented on the spur of the moment. As such, irrespective of who benefited, it is deeply unsatisfying because the outcome is clearly then at whim of the referee rather than simply down to sporting luck as to how the rules apply to the circumstances.

Author — Rob Fawcett

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1:03 - Inaccurate statement from my view point. Those 5 cars you mentioned didn't jam themselves between Lewis and Max because of Max pitting, they were always going to come into play. Lewis lapped them before the crash/Safety Car. If you recall team radio between Bono and Lewis, Bono clearly stated Max had to contend with back markers, hence gap was communicated as 12 seconds + lapped cars. Martin Brundle and David Croft from SkySportsF1 even said the DRS train is going to make Max struggle passing the cars because on the 2 DRS zones, because they had DRS on each other.

This meant Max would struggle passing them on the straights. And have to wait for the slower corners for them to move out the way. The Redbull went low down force changing the rear wing for the final race, compromising slow corner performance. You can do the maths and strat why the changed Max to the supersoft and pressured Masi to clear lapped cars only after they saw were Max came out. Why did Horner wait for Max to comfortably behind the "gap of lapped cars" to call for 1 lap shoot out, why not a 2 lap shoot-out with both cars on super softs.

Lapped cars can work both for you and against. Max once used Schumacher for DRS to defend Hamilton in the last lap, rewind Circuit of the Americas. Horner at one stage was going off at Haas to get Schumacher out the way so as to not slow Max down but fortuitously he picked up a slip stream and DRS.

So Mercedes and Bono strat was based on no lapped cars passing as a buffer between Max and Lewis, had they known the lapped would go through, Lewis could have had an option to pit.

With all that said, I think Mercedes strat failed them, they should have pitted Lewis during during VSC for a brand set of Hards or scrubbed Mediums. They had the better ICE and race pace, yes Max was gonna be hard to pass but not impossible especially with DRS enabled. Just as he struggled with Perez but passed him eventually.

Liberty Media will pressure the FIA to increase staff compliment and stewards to assist Masi. Maybe ask for a Deputy Race Director and Communication Director as entertaining as Sunday was, the screw up is bad for the sports.

Recall Jeddah communication to the very poor, unclear and unorderly. That's why you need the a Deputy Race Director to review footage, Race Director to make the call and Communication Director to issue comms in a structured manner to the teams.

They also need to relook at enabling DRS rules after Safety Car. If the gap was significant prior to safety car 2 laps should be enough to re-establish it, if it was below 2 seconds maybe, enable the DRS on the first lap.

If Lewis had DRS on the last lap, Max wasn't going to maintain the pass or lunge knowing Lewis had DRS.

Author — Tshepo Kgoale

Author

As always, thanks for a clear and concise explanation.
I wonder if Bernie and others are deep in conversation with Toto and the Mercedes heirarchy/shareholders trying to get Mercedes not to appeal to bring calm and peace?
If Mercedes, therefore, does not appeal, what does this mean for future borderline calls by the Racing Director?
Will an appeal clear the mud from the water?
Will not appealing make for murkier waters in championships to come?

Author — Dene Larwood