F1’s governing body wants to conclude its inquiry into the events of Abu Dhabi by February 3 at the latest, with FIA to speak to all the key players; Lewis Hamilton’s future in the sport remains uncertain for 2022 season
Last Updated: 12/01/22 3:15pm
The FIA expects to complete its review into F1’s controversial title-deciding Abu Dhabi GP by early February at the latest.
Sky Sports has been told the formal investigative side of the inquiry began on Monday and the inquiry team will aim to interview all those involved in the controversy, including race director Michael Masi, stewards, drivers and team representatives.
Peter Bayer, the FIA’s secretary general of motor sport, will head up the process.
Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who was elected FIA president on December 17, is taking a personal involvement in the review and dealing with it as a matter of urgency from the governing body’s headquarters in Geneva.
F1’s governing body has been in a transitional phase with Jean Todt’s term as president ending just five days after the Abu Dhabi finale.
An FIA spokesperson said the investigation will be ‘thorough, objective and transparent’. The governing body expects to complete the process in time for the next World Motor Sport Council meeting on February 3 at the latest.
The FIA committed to an “analysis and clarification exercise” three days after the Abu Dhabi finale following discussions with Mercedes.
Although Mercedes withdrew their intent to appeal against the race outcome, they remained hugely angered and dismayed about the handling of the Safety Car period by Masi after a chain of events which saw Lewis Hamilton lose the world title on the final lap to Max Verstappen.
As revealed by Sky Sports on Monday, seven-time champion Hamilton’s future remains unclear ahead of the 2022 season.
The outcome of the FIA’s review is understood to be key to its resolution.
Pre-season testing begins in Spain on February 23, with the season’s first race in Bahrain on March 20.
One month on from 2021’s controversial finish
January 12 marks exactly one month since the highly-contentious conclusion to the 2021 season.
Hamilton has not spoken publicly since the initial aftermath of the race, when he conducted a brief pre-podium interview and congratulated Verstappen.
His only known comment on the events of the final laps is when he told his race engineer “this has been manipulated” over team radio into the race’s final corners.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff revealed four days after the race the Briton felt “disillusioned” about what had unfolded, and said he could offer no firm assurances that Hamilton would definitely return to F1.
“It’s going to take a long time for us to digest what has happened on Sunday. I don’t think we will ever overcome it, that’s not possible,” said Wolff, who said his driver had been “robbed” of the 2021 crown.
“And certainly not him [Hamilton] as a driver. I would very much hope the two of us and the rest of the team we can work through the events… But he will never overcome the pain and the distress that was caused on Sunday.”
Wolff added: “I would very much hope Lewis continues racing because he is the greatest driver of all time.
“As a racer his heart will say I need to continue because he’s at the peak of his game. But we have to overcome the pain that was caused upon him on Sunday. He is a man with clear values.”
Wolff also made clear Mercedes would hold the FIA “accountable” for delivering on their promise of a review, which is set to involve discussion with teams and drivers.
Masi’s position, meanwhile, remains under huge scrutiny.
A number of senior figures within Formula 1 now consider his position untenable. Sky Sports has learned several teams expressed a lack of confidence in his performances as race director during the 2021 season.
Source : Sky Sports