Green Notebook from a quiet forest in Normandy

These last days have been tumultuous times for Formula 1, with the extraordinary World Championship showdown in Abu Dhabi. But one needs perspective in these matters and sitting at home, watching the activity on the marsh which my home overlooks, provides a good opportunity to think clearly about things. The ragondin (coypu) swimming in the pond  and the silly scuttling moorhens remind one that outside the world of F1 rivers still flow to the sea and the seasons still change, despite what happened in Yas Marina.

Social media has become a battleground between supporters of one side or the other and everyone is throwing things at Michael Masi, a man who had to make difficult decisions, which turned out to be controversial. That’s the problem with being a race director. You don’t ever get praise when things go right. You only get mentioned when things go wrong. It’s like being an F1 spark plug…

After Nicholas Latifi crashed (and those who blame the Canadian for causing this really do need to have their heads examined by professional medical staff) there was a problem. There was a lot of debris on the track, more than one could deal with using a Virtual Safety Car, but not really enough for a Red Flag. It was a Safety Car moment.

This was the Mercedes nightmare because Lewis Hamilton’s lead was effectively wiped out, which was unfair, but the way the rules are. Hamilton was not far from the pitlane entrance and so the strategists had to make a quick call. Stay out. To have come in and get new tyres would perhaps have led Red Bull to leave Verstappen out and that would have given him track position that could have handed him victory at the restart. Logically the race was going to end under caution, so Lewis was safe. But Red Bull stopped Max, put him on soft tyres and sent him out again. That put him behind some backmarkers in the queue behind the Safety Car. Normally the lapped cars would be allowed to pass the Safety Car when the wreckage was cleaned up and then the race could start again. In that case, Hamilton was screwed, except that there were not enough laps to do that. The race would have ended under caution. And what a damp squib that would have been, with Lewis and Max driving around the last lap, unable to fight. An initial message from Race Control said that the lapped cars should remain in place. That was normal because there was still clean-up work going on and the safety of the track workers was still a question.

Then Masi gave the instruction that only the cars between Hamilton and Verstappen should unlap themselves. Before that we heard Max explaining that it was typical of the FIA to leave the lapped cars in place to screw him (he and Red Bull both have a persecution complex in this respect). Masi’s instruction was logical in that the cars behind Max were irrelevant and there was no time to clear them all. They did not matter. The ones between Lewis and Max would get in the way of the title fight. But with Max on new tyres and Lewis on old tyres this effectively gave Max a chance to snatch the title. Max took it. Lewis tried to stop it.

It wasn’t fair perhaps, but it was within the rules. Live sport has a habit of creating such insane situations and referees have to deal with them. Masi did nothing wrong. He used the powers he has to do what he felt was best was the World Championship. What happened was no-one’s fault. Max was lucky. Lewis was not. I never want to hear Max complain again that the FIA has got it in for him, and I want Christian Horner to learn a lot about stewarding when he attends the FIA Stewards event later this winter. Lewis took his defeat with grace and style. Toto and his cohorts reacted as one would expect them to react, but is appealing the various decisions going to help F1? No, probably not. It was the sporting gods having their say. Losing with grace is better than losing with lawyers. But I feel their pain. It wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right, but it was the way the rules are.

Are there better ways? Perhaps, and I hope that the FIA will spend some time looking at the Safety Car rules and asking whether this is the right way to run things. Masi’s only fault, if you call it that, was to try to make sure there was a race at the end. And he did that for the fans and for the good of the sport.

NASCAR has some complicated rules which can extend races when there is a late caution. Perhaps F1 should have the same. But perhaps not.

Anyway, the subsequent mess and the celebrations, mixed with Mercedes’s pain and sense of outrage, combined to create a bittersweet evening, with work delayed and plans blown apart. We did not get the official race result until 00.05. Five and a half hours after the chequered flag fell. There is only so much one can do when the F1 balloon goes up. And thus it was that at 02.30 having put together GP+ and sent it into the world, I left the Media Centre in Abu Dhabu to the last of the scribblers (there were still a few left)  and I walked through the deserted car parks of Yas Island to the Media Parking (the shuttles had stopped). It was cool and quiet. It had been quite a day. And Saturday night had involved only a couple of hours of sleep so I was feeling weary.

But it had also been a long, long season and it was time to go home. But that is not always easy. I drove through the night and the desert for the next two hours, up to Dubai, passing the Expo site on the way, and arriving at Dubai International Airport still in darkness with the first wave of morning flyers heading into the airport to fly away in different directions. I tried to work as I waited for the flight. The story of the race was the lead item on the international news being piped into the lounge but I could barely keep my eyes open by then. I was writing words that were all jumbled up. At some point I heard the muezzin calling the faithful with his salat al fahr, the pre-dawn call to prayer. The start of a new day.

On the plane I was asleep long before we left the tarmac.

We had struggled to find the right tone for the GP+ cover. We didn’t want it to be too this or too that, but we wanted it to be positive and memorable. In the end we chose “A Night to Remember” and a picture of Lewis and Max chinking bottles on the podium. In the end it was perfect, although as someone pointed out there was film called A Night to Remember about the sinking of Titanic. Did we choose the title for that reason?

No, it was just a coincidence…

The green notebook was filled with scribbles during the weekend. Including such notes as “Piastri = champion” and “French govt EXPO delegation”. I had the words “Philip Morris” circled and various scrawls about races: “USA 2026”, “Bahrain + I week” and “Monaco ?” there was also “RB dept moving in-house FIA” and “Raducano/Bolt/Larson”, “Vegas 23” and “BWT-Alpine”.

French Government EXPO meant that in the days before the Grand Prix French GP promoter Eric Boullier (who heads the promotions company that runs the race) was invited to join a delegation with the French Sports Minister to the EXPO in Dubai, to tell the world about France’s sporting achievement and about a rumour that Eric was recently spotted visiting the Elysées Palace, where President Emmanuel Macron hangs out. On Monday night the French motorsport federation (FFSA) had a prizegiving to which Macron sent a video message, underlining the importance of French motorsport and saying that the government would help to save the French GP. Great news.

“Philip Morris” meant that the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was the last race in which the tobacco company Philip Morris International (PMI) was involved in an official capacity. The firm, which owns Marlboro, has been the biggest F1 sponsor in history, dating back to 1971 when Marlboro first sponsored the BRM team. The deal lasted for three years but without much success and in the final year Marlboro was also involved with Frank Williams’s Iso team. In 1974 Marlboro did a new deal with McLaren, starting a relationship that lasted until 1996 and then Ferrari. It was still a significant sponsor of Ferrari this year, with the Mission Winnow concept. But that has not been renewed. PMI may still have some hospitality packages in the years ahead but it looks like all sponsorships are finished – which is something that should not pass unnoticed…

The word is that Ferrari will up its links with Amazon in the future.

The note “USA 2026” is fairly self-explicit. There is a deal in place between F1 and Austin for another five years. It will be announced soon. The “Bahrain + one week” note meant that Bahrain is about to announced an extension for its deal with F1 and this will either go to 2032, or possibly to 2037.

The news that Abu Dhabi has signed a new contract to be last race of the Formula 1 season until 2030 was no real surprise, following the announcements in recent weeks about 10 year deals for Qatar (2023-2032) and Saudi Arabia (2021-2030) and it is entirely logical that Bahrain too will protect its investment in the sport. The kingdom never gave details of how long the current deal is. It was signed in 2016 and at the time there was talk of a 15 year deal. The truth is that it was a 10-year contract covering 2017-2026, with an option to continue beyond that. That option can be for either five or 10 years. Thus, F1 will have at least four races in the Middle East from 2023 until 2030, although it is unlikely to increase from that.

The “Monaco ?” note is perhaps the most interesting because it indicates that the future of the Monaco GP is not yet sorted out – and no-one wants to talk about it. Monaco and Formula 1 are like an old marriage. It is hard to imagine one without the other, but they don’t always get on. Prince Albert of Monaco said not so long ago that the Grand Prix was worth $1 billion for Monaco – just for the weekend. That did not include the value it has pulling in tourists for the rest of the year. Or to put it another way, Monaco needs F1. And F1 really needs Monaco because a World Championship without Monaco is hard to imagine. The last deal, signed in 2010, was for 10 years to cover the period between 2011 to 2020. As the final race was cancelled because of the global pandemic the F1 group offered an additional race for 2021 and a one-year deal has been cobbled together for 2022 – on the basis that Monaco would give up its four-day format. The last deal was negotiated by Bernie Ecclestone and the President of the Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM), Michel Boeri. Ecclestone is now 92 and out of the picture, but Boeri at 82 has recently been re-elected for another five-year term. He has held the office since 1972 and has some strong views about the importance of his race. His dad Etienne was President of the ACM between 1965 and 1968 and so it’s rather a personal thing. But Monaco has some significant problems in relation to F1 that need sorting.  There is no overtaking and so the races are generally dull, despite the race being a great spectacle. The fee Monaco pays is fair smaller than any other race. TV coverage is also not controlled by F1 as Monaco insisted on keeping control of its role as host broadcaster. In recent years this has been well below the modern standards. The club also retains some of the trackside signage, but this is also troublesome as the ACM slots are muddled and do not follow F1’s usual one sponsor per corner philosophy. It’s a jumble of names. It also has a big deal with TAG-Heuer, which does not sit well with F1’s partner Rolex. And there are problems over hospitality as the ACM controls much of it and F1 is not cashing in on the potential value of the event. And the quality of the offering may not be up to F1’s usual standards. So there is a lot to discuss and negotiation is difficult because neither side wishes to change its demands. Monaco’s unique status has weakened somewhat in recent years with the Singapore night race and more recently with the arrival of Saudi Arabia and Miami, both of which are paying far more than Monaco. Thus Monaco’s status may not have quite the same power that it had under Bernie Ecclestone and it is clear that the ACM’s attitude, which filters through the whole organisation, seems to be that no-one in the world knows how to organise a race as well as Monaco does, which is patently not the case any longer, if indeed it ever was. It is not a favourite for those who work in F1. Not even close. And the arrogance grates on the nerves.

There is no question that F1 would be poorer without Monaco, at least in some respects, but it is also fair to say that F1 gives the Principality a huge amount and gets relatively little in return, except the intangible value of association…

It’s a tough one to negotiate. 

The note “RB dept moving in-house to FIA” means that there will be changes within the Formula 1 group during 2022 with the company’s managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn (67) expected to retire and the chief technical officer Pat Symonds (68) also standing down. The F1 technical group in London is out of place and so will soon come under the control of the FIA, with the remaining engineers reporting to FIA chief technology officer Nikolas Tombazis. This is entirely logical as the idea of the commercial rights holder running a technical operation to work on car design regulations and to  help with circuit design, never really made much sense. It is a little known fact that before he joined the FIA Tombazis spent some months working as a consultant with the Formula 1 team of engineers in London, and so he knows them well. The principal members of the group are the F1 head of aerodynamics  Jason Somerville and the head of vehicle performance, who also plays a big role in circuit work, is Craig Wilson.

The FIA operation is located at the FIA Logistics and Technical Centre, in Valleiry, in the Haute-Savoie region of France, close to the Swiss border and the FIA offices in Geneva. It is not clear whether the London-based engineers will be based in Europe, or whether they will work remotely, or whether they will leave. The FIA already has a number of engineers working at Valleiry, including Tim Goss, who  works as Tombazis’s deputy. However, not all of the FIA engineers are there as Dominic Harlow, who is the head of F1 technical audit, operates from the UK.

This will not impact on the sporting side of the organisation, which is headed by Steve Nielsen, which will continue to operate from London.

The note about VIPs in Abu Dhabi was self-explanatory with the most interesting for racing folks being that NASCAR champion Kyle Larson was in the F1 house. And he was drooling. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with him, showing him around and introducing him to a few people. Nothing shows the blinkered nature of F1 better than the NASCAR champion walking into the paddock and not being recognised by photographers (who are usually good at this stuff) or journalists. Anyway Larson was loving it. And wanted to have a go in an F1 car… There was an interesting conversation too between Kyle and Dani Kvaat, who wants to go to race in NASCAR…

Larson said that he hadn’t been into F1 much before the started watching Drive to Survive on Netflix. Boom! That shows you the kind of impact that the series has had and the future impact it will have with F1 growing in the US markets. After Abu Dhabi most folks went home, but some went off to Nevada where a number of F1 execs went to work on closing a deal with the city and to plan exactly where the race track could be…

The recent months has seen a scramble in F1 circles as race promoters begin to realise that the growth of F1 is causing more demand for Grands Prix and so it is best to  get new long-term contracts done quickly, so as to avoid losing out in what will become a game of musical chairs in the future.

F1 remains big news around the world but, as I wrote in my GP+ column, it is not the only thing in the world.

“They say that people on islands tend to have less of a global view than those who live on the mainland,” I wrote. “It certainly felt that way on Yas Island over the weekend, where a lot of the Formula 1 circus believed that there was nothing in the world apart from the World Championship showdown between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen; and the fight for the Constructors’  title between Red Bull Racing and Mercedes. In the heat of a battle one can lose perspective about what is important and one does things which later on, when things have calmed down and there are cooler heads, seem to have been a little excessive.

“The 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was a strange affair, a story so bizarre that no-one could have imagined such an outcome. If it was a film script it would have been thrown out as being unrealistic. For some It was a fabulous story, for others it was unfair? Was it luck? Was it a situation where the Race Director, trying to do the right thing, created something very wrong? These are the kind of questions that will be asked in the days ahead. The sport did not want to end an epic F1 season with the cars crossing the finish line running line astern – under caution – unable to fight.   Did Mercedes get it wrong by not pitting Hamilton? Was Michael Masi right to call the race as he did? What we got in the end seemed unfair.

“What is important now, unsatisfactory though it may be, is to protect the World Championship. One cannot overturn the result. It happened. You cannot take a World Championship away after the event. It would make a mockery of the sport and would, inevitably lead to endless law suits flying about that no-one wants and nobody needs. It’s just sport. Will Mercedes sell more cars if they win another title? Will Red Bull become cooler to its target audience because it won another title?

“The sport should be treated with respect. I detest the Verstappen fans who boo Lewis, the greatest Formula 1 driver we have ever seen. He deserves more respect. He is one of the cleanest racers there has ever been. I dislike people who suggested that Max would settle the title by driving into Lewis. He too deserves more respect.

“I have enormous respect for both men and I think what we are seeing at the moment is epic stuff and we will be talking about it years from now, remembering a time when the old lion Lewis Hamilton battled with the rising star Max Verstappen to be the leader of the pride. 

“Formula 1 is about passion but it should never be treated as something other than that. Yes, winning and losing are important but the world outside the Yas Marina Circuit did not stop because of what happened on the island on Sunday evening.

“Perhaps this was a pivotal moment in Formula 1 history, but elsewhere babies were born, old folks passed on, people still fell in and out of love. 

“The world turned ever onwards. On Monday, Abu Dhabi moves on to the next event: the FINA World Swimming Championships, in which another group of elite athletes would be battling for titles. As Kimi Raikkonen would say, it is what  it is. It’s happened. It’s gone. The sport should learn the lessons, if there are lessons that need to be learned, but that should be the end of it. It should not become a court room battle.”

327 thoughts on “Green Notebook from a quiet forest in Normandy

  1. Toto Wolff seems to have become more hasty and less stable without Niki Lauda as a sounding board. Peak ‘Team Mercedes’ was probably reached when Ineos bought their first 33%. Let’s see whether Ineos still take up their second 33% option, allowing an elegant exit for Daimler AG.

  2. A well-reasoned and presented account. Fair? Depends. Is Mr. Hamilton the G.O.A.T.? Argument could be made convincingly. Did Verstappen deserve the title? One stellar season and a bit of luck. Same could be said of some past champions.
    I will say, the unexpected green flag last lap had me on my feet.

  3. John

    You might enjoy this long news letter. It is produced by one of the longest serving F1 journalists.l – since 1984 I think. It gives a very good explanation as to why things happened at AbDab.

    Towards the end is probably less interesting..

  4. Hi Joe, thanks for your analysis. The thing is that there are clear rules governing the end of the safety car period and how lapped cars should be dealt with. These have been in place for 28 years and have been followed in all that time. Indeed Masi himself publicly explained the process to the teams himself during the Eiffel GP last year. Mercedes made their strategy decision in the belief that the rules would be followed. This is confirmed by Bono’s radio message to Hamilton, they relied on that extra lap under the safety car. Yes, applying those rules would have meant ending the race under the safety car. Not ideal but it would have been according to the rules.
    However, Masi decided not to follow those rules. He allowed only 5 cars to unlap themselves, incidentally thereby depriving Sainz of a chance to fight for second, and he brought the Safety Car in straight away instead of a lap later. I know the clock cant be reversed but that was a travesty and at least some of the people who pour vast sums into F1 must be reassessing their investments.

    1. It was a tumultuous year of racing. Lewis and Max were performing at an extremely high level. They were pushing each other constantly. It was great sport and great entertainment.

      That said, would you really have wanted this special season to end with the drivers meekly following a Safety Car? Seriously? Only Mercedes wanted that.

      Rules are made to be interpreted. Michael Masi decided that he would let the two leaders race. I can’t fault him for that. It was what everyone wanted and deserved.

      1. Rather follow SC for 2-3 laps than what we witnessed. You call the last lap “racing”? HAM was on 40+ laps hard tyres and VES on nearly new softs..Media called it “sitting duck”.
        I am seriously sad to see there are F1 fans like you who prefer that scenario. We already had 50+ lasps of racing, but you prefered the championship to be decided by a sitting duck scenario.

      2. With all respect to what you are writing having a car with hard 40 laps old and a car with soft 3 laps old is not racing, in these circumstances, it was obvious even before this lap started that he already lost the title, so the win was on 57 immediately after Masi’s decision this is exactly what kills the long-lasted absolutely great season, we sold the overall season just for the show on the last lap. And talking about “It’s a racing” – racing is when two racers have at least identical chances (and RB would have it under red flags), or at least when you are making a strategy taking into consideration existing rules AND more than 20 years of real practice, but when you are just about to lose the title even before restart this is not racing this is wrestling.

      3. OK, but then give them both new soft tyres for the last lap shootout… by that point in the race Lewis had earned an equal crack at the win. (Unless you want ro argue that is not true?)

      4. Robert,
        You summed up my reply to Gordon well so no need to repeat your words except to praise Joe’s journalism.
        regards, build.

      5. “Would you really have wanted this special season to end with the drivers meekly following a Safety Car? Seriously?” – yes, if thats what the rules say, that’s what should happen. If it’s the first or last race, start or end, of a good or poor season, makes no diference

        “Rules are made to be interpreted” – no. Guidelines are made to be interpreted. Rules are made to be followed. ‘Sorry officer, I know it says 30mph, but its ok as I interpreted that as 45’

      6. I think a red flag and a restart would’ve been the best of the available options. Imagine Lewis and Max duking it out on fresh (nearly fresh, in Lewis’s case) tyres for four or five laps! That would truly have been one for the ages. With that prospect on the table, I’m really not sure how anyone can feel what Masi chose was a better option.

          1. Not in itself, but if we’re going to bend the rules to ensure the race doesn’t end behind the safety car why not do it properly? A straight shootout would’ve been much better for the sport’s image, which has very obviously tarnished in the eyes of the non-motorsports fans who tuned in. Most left baffled and unlikely to hurry back.

          2. If the race director has discretion to ignore written rules about how the safety car is deployed in order to set up a green flag finish for TV then he has discretion to red flag the race in order to set up a green flag finish for TV.

    1. @Erwan
      Already there’s a chill wind blowing through the paddock. F1 without Kimi? Can there be such a thing?
      No driver before or since could have lived with his speed in his McLaren days. Who else got to be known as The Iceman? Nobody.
      Joe probably has many untold tales about him….

        1. Come on, Joe. That is unfair. You don’t like him, that’s your prerogative. But ‘dullness’ fits a great many drivers we’ve seen over the years, never Kimi.
          Brundle was bowled over hanging out with him in Tokyo one year.

          1. I don’t dislike him. He deliberately avoided engaging with the media. Thus he was not engaging. He was a good driver. If the fans loved him, fine. For me he was just dull. I’m sure he wasn’t really, but we all reap what we sow.

            1. I’d add that he was also a rude, and there are plenty of video examples if you search to back that up. He was handsomely paid over many years, yet did little to help the media, and as I said as frequently rude and irritable. Some called it character, I just though he had no manners.

              He also hogged some prime drives for too long, and then he was soundly beaten by Alonso and Vettel.

              1. He won the title and constructors for Ferrari in his first year. What did Vettel and Alonso ever achieve at Ferrari, zero zilch nil nothing.

                1. Alonso came 2nd in the 2012 championship in a subpar Ferrari against Red Bull at the height of their dominance. Vettel was in title contention for most of 2015 but finished third behind the Mercedes of Hamilton and Rosberg. Vettel was the only non-Mercedes driver to win races that year.

                  Raikkonen didn’t have to compete against a team who was in a period of total dominance like Alonso or Vettel had to. Ferraris won 9 of the 17 races that year so were the best or equal best car.

              2. You can bet he fulfilled all his media obligations in his contract and under his license. He didn’t need to do any more. Why should he.

                What I loved about Kimi was his honesty and the fact he would not engage with the nonsense that goes around where he must have an opinion on Chechnya, China, Chernobyl or cream cheese. He spoke about what he had to.

                He was the the opposite end of the spectrum to the programmed robot that is Lewis Hamilton. Somewhere in the middle is Sebastian Vettel who at least is not partisan in human rights campaign.

            2. For what it is worth, he also avoided engaging with the factory staff at Mclaren. He came in for seat fittings on Saturdays and never attended whole team get together as far as I know. His reputation was as being very shy, but a bit wild after a few (or quite a lot actually) vodkas.

                1. Which bit would they disagree with?

                  I did say factory staff. He was always close to the bolters, and I believe he would socialise with them, but he never showed his face in the factory during normal hours.

                  But then again, most of the race crew did seem to view the factory staff as their inferiors.

                  Kimi was held in very high esteem because he got the best out of the car, but let’s not pretend he was a regular at the MTC, or at Albert drive before that.

                  1. Rmm,
                    I have personal experience with Kimi through his F3 team. I doubt he treated his F3 team any differently to the Maaca team. He is neither shy nor fails to engage with staff. He is in fact quite engaging and articulate. However I’m also told he employed a technique with media that happened to work in his favour in many ways which explains Joe’s experience with him.
                    They say “Never meet your hero’s.” I learnt that when in my teens I met Peter Brock at a BBQ. He was not the hero I expected. Joe also has a different view of Peter Perfect. At the same BBQ I was shocked by how helpful and patient the so called villain Allan Moffat was. Allan is often seen in the support paddock.
                    Don’t expect media personalities to be as they appear in and on the media. Kimi is a classic example.

                    build

          2. Read the biography. I’m afraid dull about sums it up, I couldn’t make it to the end, it was a gift so I didn’t feel too badly about it !

      1. This great big unsentimental old Hector will freely admit to, er, having something in his eye when Kimi was obliged to park it, but was pleased to note that the viewers of the DingoVision coverage voted him Driver of the Day.

        (Yes, yes, pedants, I do know that Don Rupino sold his interest in $ky to Comcast more than three years ago…)

  5. Perhaps Joe, who has the knowledge and experience of F1 for nearly 40 years, would be a suitable replacement for Masi?

      1. I think he meant you Joe ! From my side, your summing up of the day was masterly and lived up to your previous efforts. Well done. I do worry however that you always give so much of yourself and seem to be so sleep deprived. Have a good break.

  6. The real loser is the sport – the race director shouldn’t be able to decide to interpret a rule selectively. The rule talks of “any” lapped cars, clearly meaning “all” in this context, despite what Red Bull may wish were the case, and states that the safety car should complete another lap after the instruction is given to unlap. The messy end to the race may have been exciting to some fans, but shredded F1’s sporting integrity; making up the rules is fine if you’re kicking a ball around in the school playground, less satisfactory if you’re crowning the champion of an International sport after a compelling season of excellence from the two title protagonists, neither of whom was well served by this farce.

    1. “Have you got all the money you owed”
      “Have you got any the money you owed”.

      They don’t mean the same thing.

      Any does not mean all, as a contracts adviser, we always look for the word all and mitigate its effect because all means everything, You could make a case that any could mean all lapped cars, what about double lapped, should you allow them to have all their laps back. The wording should be cleared up and here “all” may resolve this case in the future.

      It’s all about interpretation and what you can prove. I’m afriad Masi has made a pig’s ear out of a number of decisions this year and having a driver’s steward from 🇬🇧 was unethical. It would be like having a referee of a World Cup Final from the nation competing for the win. Derek Warwick has in the past made decisions as drivers steward with one eye on his passport

      I hark back to the days the Clerk of the Course or now Race Director was a name with a face even his other mother had trouble recognising in a crowd. Now he is a personality. Sadly it’s the world we live in where everyone wants to be famous. Alan Partridge is everywhere. A-Ha

  7. Joe, the FIA need to swallow their pride and look at how Indycar handle yellows in the last 10 laps when there is an issue. Typically if they think the incident cannot be cleared they throw a red (I think twice in 2021) All the cars are treated as equal, the mess is cleared and they go back to racing for a few laps. They get a green flag finish and most teams are happy. If the FIA had used this rule and done this at Abu Dhabi then no one would be complaining. What they did was simply not fair to all competitors. It is not Masi’s fault, it is the FIA’s fault. Same thing in Saudi, as we saw in practice, the wall was always going to have to be repaired after an impact so why not throw the red immediately rather than wait three laps, make it unequal for all and then go red.

    1. I agree that the FIA needs to have a rule set that copes with such issues; as closely as possible they should also deal with loss of existing advantages too. To that end, with a little thought, I would propose something like this:

      IF a straight safety car is adequate
      1) Close pit lane for all cars except cars with punctures/damaged bodywork.
      2) Record track positions/time deltas at point safety car was called
      2) Release safety car
      3) For all cars generate a closure rate/lap (ie are they catching up to the car in front or dropping back, preferably with an average over say prior ~3 laps)
      4) Decrement/increment the delta time to the car in front by the closure rate for each lap under the safety car to account for existing rate of change of gap
      5) Unlap cars or don’t, it doesn’t matter as the delta is recorded.
      6) Release to racing.
      7) Race to the finish. The “target delta time” has been corrected for laps run under SC; record finish positions and actual delta times.
      8) If a required pass was made and actual delta>target delta then the position is gained.
      10) Calculate for all cars, publish results.

      To gain the position ahead of the car in front, the car behind must a) pass the car in front and b) generate a relative delta time larger than the adjusted recorded delta time.

      IF red flag required & race conditions maintained exactly, then they need to:
      1) Red flag the race,
      2) Record track positions/time deltas,
      3) Return cars to the pits
      4) Have teams/FIA make this assessment – do I have any parts that are damaged so I cannot run, do I need to change my tyres? Private declaration, no changing your mind (FIA required where there are damaged parts).
      5) If yes have an official FIA timer time the work, add a standard pit in/out time (same for everyone, can be set up to be calculated from all non retiring cars time averaged from the race etc.)
      6) Add up on track + pit delta times – change track position as required.
      7) Restart race (rolling or standing start)
      7a) Record start delta to the car “ahead” (ie that was ahead at the stop) and subtract from the existing delta
      7b) NOTE: Ideally all cars start at the same time on the start line but obviously there isn’t room. The grid spreads out the cars in time at the Start line, hence a correction a car improving its position will have a -ve delta correction, +ve delta is worse. BUT we are correcting for the start line positioning, so a car that has gained ground at the start needs to be a bit further ahead at the finish line, so the delta time increases & vice versa.
      8) Race to the finish. The “target delta time” has been corrected for the restart; record finish positions and actual delta times.
      9) If a required pass was made and actual delta>target delta then the position is gained.
      10) Calculate for all cars, publish results.

      IF I can think of this, then the FIA can, in fact they are free to use this idea! The recording of deltas, closure rates etc are all easily computerised, so there is no real reason why this couldn’t be done.
      You can easily show cars who are racing against their delta to earn that “pass” if they pass just after the end of a SC and if they are gapping the car they passed, the passed car can also not go mad to keep up, but adjust the pace to maximise their speed if on used rubber, the same as if they were ahead and controlling the gap…

      1. Unfortunately that should ensure that nobody has the vaguest idea of what is happening and will take goodness knows how long to organise by which time the engines will be cooked, the tyres frozen and the punters gone elsewhere.
        I’m afraid I got bored just reading the proposal. Far too complex !

        1. “I’m afraid I got bored just reading the proposal. Far too complex !” Hear hear! Except for the first suggestion, which perhaps should read – close the pit lane exit. Those that need or want the pit lane can then enter, but not leave until the last car has passed after the safety car has left the track. They will then get the bonus of the laps recorded under safety car, but be at the back of the field. Great notes as usual Joe and congrats to Lewis – dubbed Sir Knight today (15 Dec) by the Prince of Wales.

          1. But that stops reactive racing. Is the same to apply under VSC? The system is not broken, it’s getting back to green that is

        2. I decided to put up the whole of the concept rather than a summary, without loopholes – as they would need to word it in the rules. Sorry for the length.
          To summarise the concept is: Take snapshot of racing picture at incident. To gain a position on competitors, require existing time differences and positional differences are made up ON TRACK, irrespective of a std SC or Red flag situation.
          For a VSC you don’t need this – close pits to all but cars with punctures/serious bodywork issues that RC agrees needs attention.
          Delta times on track in pits etc can be set up to be generated automatically, together with appropriate graphics etc. Computers are great for this sort of thing.
          Unless you can put cars back in the exact positions they were in relative to each other after an incident, I cant see anyway that is absolutely fair than requiring an overtake & delta time makeup.

          If you can, I’d love to hear it.

    2. How is it the FIA’s fault? Masi had that option and chose not to use it. He has absolute authority as the person who runs the race to their rules.

      I have sympathy for MB, but as Felipe Massa discovered in 2008, a formula 1 World Championship is over X number of races, not 1 lap or 1 corner.

  8. when Perez backed Hamilton into Verstappen it completely changed the strategy for Merc, taking away the extra pitstop. Couple that with Perez luring Hamilton into a spin at Baku and his timely battle in Turkey and you have the difference in the season. Given the skyrocketing popularity due to Netflix, Masi did exactly the right thing for the sport. Hamilton has sat in the finest car on the grid for 10 years, he has nothing to complain about.

    1. That is an acceptable opinion, but I don’t agree. Michael is doing his job. That is all.
      He made choice. He had to. You can agree or disagree, but he did his best.

      1. Unfortunately his best was not good enough on this occasion.
        I hate the idea of finishing a race behind the safety car, but what Masi did was plain wrong.
        Am with Gordan Jackson (above) on this, as Mercedes formed their strategy to suit the rules.
        By not bringing the car in at the end of the following lap, Masi broke the FIA rule.
        Turned a multi-billion dollar season into a farce.

          1. You keep saying Masi broke no rules. Do you mean after FIA’s ruling on Mercedes’ protest that the race director can do whatever he wants despite what the rules say?

              1. Thank you for the clarification. I have been waiting for your post on the matter. I can put this season behind me now.

          2. He clearly did. Article 48.12 of the sporting regulations was not followed. Would it have been terribly anticlimactic to finish behind the safety car? Of course. But as we say in the colonies, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

              1. Joe, please remember that there is no mention about the race director in the whole Article 48 (clerk of the course is the one that is stated to be the guy in charge of safety car). Article 15.3 (with ‘e’ in particular) just says that clerk of the course does not work on his own in this regard and has to listen to the race director and obey.

              2. This wasn’t the use of the safety car. This was the treatment of cars behind the safety car.

                “Use of the safety car” means “using the safety car”. I.e. the RD has the power to call for it or to pull it in. Not to ignore the rules of how the race runs behind it. Otherwise the RD would have the power e.g. to tell the entire field to line up in alphabetical order behind the safety car.

          3. I appreciate you know the rules a lot better than I, so why is “the safety car comes in at the end of the following lap” being quoted in so many places as a rule?

          4. You are 100% right, because there are numerous rules but there is an over riding rule which basically says, you can ignore all the rules to an extent and do what’s best. That’s what is at fault. That has to be the focus of change.

      2. The problem is that he’s being doing his best all season and it’s not been good enough consistently. Which is why he gets bullied by both Christian and Toto. Because they can.

        I actually don’t agree that what he did followed procedures. He made a decision not to let cars unlap themselves as that just about gave them time to restart the race. He was then bullied into making up new rules to the detriment of Mercedes and Ferrari by Red Bull. We heard it happen. There simply appears to be no protocol in race control to deal with stress. If this was the cockpit of an aeroplane everything would follow a procedure. It should be no different. They even had precedent to throw a red flag – they did it in Baku. As soon as the SC is deployed there should be a new clock that marks the time that you have before the race finishes under SC.

        But we’re going to get red flags if they want entertainment. There have been 8 SC finishes as far as I can tell. There won’t be any more as it’s no good for the show. For the purist this is terrible.

        1. If he gave way to bullying the result might have been different on Sunday. I don’t agree. He told Toto that with the message: “That’s racing”. That was right. I hate what happened because Lewis should have won, but he didn’t. That was wrong, but at the same time it was right.

          1. Thanks for the reply Joe. The radio message that I refer to as bullying was Christian (this time) saying, “Why are we not getting these lapped cars out of the way?” when Michael had already said lapped cars would not be allowed to overtake the safety car.

            That is bullying and Michael bent to it and changed the decision and made it up on the hoof. Toto complained. Of course he did! Ricciardo said on his radio at the end of the race that it was a mess. He was right.

            Michael then couldn’t even provide a logical explanation to Toto, so in the style of Trump, simply responded, “That’s racing Toto”. It wasn’t racing. It was rule rewriting and we all knew that Mad was going to pass Lewis. There wasn’t even any drama in that. It was too easy.

            I don’t know if Michael has an underlying bias or a direction from Liberty to make the “show” better. I don’t know him. But objectively, the race procedure was abandoned and if I was a lawyer, I’d fancy my chances of winning. With a new FIA President due this week, they may even find they have someone who is prepared to throw the old regime under the bus and overturn the race result.

            Instead, I suspect Mercedes will get some sort of settlement from the FIA that we will never know about and we will move on.

            1. Nothing is so bad that it can’t be fixed with money. The thing is that not only should Mercedes etal get money but also any driver or team that was negatively impacted by Masi’s decision. My question is ‘Who would pay this money?’ FIA, Liberty, Lloyd’s of London?

            2. He works for the FIA not Liberty Media. The FIA make the rules, Masi is their referee. The problem is he is also the live Arbitrator of the rules with a cover all rule that he can override the rules.

              A few years ago we had the idiotic situation in rugby where the final play ran for about 15 minutes after the 80 because the referree was too paralyzed to blow his whistle, but he had to go by the rule book. The over riding rule in F1 means in this situation he could have stopped the game when he decided.

              I think Madi is extremely poor and I agree Trump like in that he uses phrases to avoid questions, but in this case he only used the rules he had badly. Where the accident happened and the spread of debris a red flag and a 5 or 6 lap race in equal machinery (tyres) was in his Tottenham (sorry Arsenal). He chose not to use it.

      3. He did what he thought would be the best for the show and the sport got hurt on many levels.
        If one thinks ‘how could they finish behind the safety car’, one should answer himself ‘well, and what if Latifi would hit the wall just two laps later and the track could not be even cleared before the last lap’. Yeah, we would have as ‘boring’ season finish as in there was no safety car at all, but we wouldn’t have an artficial last-lap racing with one of the contenders left in an unfair position due to race director not complying to the rules (no, the director does not have the right to bend the rules just to give audience more show).

        And I’m not saying what to do now. I’m just sad.

    2. It felt to me more like WWE wrestling than a motor race at then end. And frankly the last third of the season felt like it was leading up to something like this.

  9. As always, thank you, Joe, for these wonderful insights into what we fans cannot see or hear.

    I was intrigued by the Monoco notes, as I have been one who has never really enjoyed that race. It is too dull from the sporting perspective. Being one who will 99.99999999% for sure never get to go to a Monoco event, it has never had a feeling of being “the crown jewel” of F1 to me. Yes, I know that makes me odd-man-out, but I, for one, will not be sad IF the Monoco race goes the way of the dodo.

    Enjoy your well-deserved break from the endless travel.

  10. Thank you Joe for your insights and your always level-headedness about this sort of things. It comes down to a few things. The world moves on and what occurred is not the end of the world. In the words of my mother (a huge F1 fan) yesterday “some people really need to get a life.” And this ultimately came down to luck, bad luck for Hamilton, good luck for Verstappen. Luck plays a huge role in many races and many championships. Did the last lap look contrived or manipulated? It sure did but that can be said for many races, this one just had a much larger microscope on it.
    It was entertaining that’s for sure. Even my 11 year old daughter watched it with me from start to finish and she almost never pays any attention to racing.

  11. I feel sure that Toto should remember Frank’s attitude. Never let them see you cry or that it bothers you that much. Use the feeling and determine to come back harder next year.

  12. Sadly at the end of one the greatest F1 seasons for years, decades even, ironically it was not the teams or drivers who the FIA feared may cause the season to end in controversy but the FIA itself. I feel for Masi, he is getting a lot of flack but with a car perpendicular to the circuit and in a dangerous position with 5 laps to go I was sure the red flag was going to come out. The Sky F1 pundits (Karun Chandhok in particular) were drooling at the idea of a possible red flag and standing restart with resultant mad dash with just 5 or fewer laps left. However this was not to be. To finish under a safety car would have indeed been a damp squib, as it is in any race, but what happened felt unfair. To prevent this from happening in the future I wonder if there is room for a regulation change that brings out the red flag in place of a safety car if the incident occurs in the final 10% of the race distance for example?

  13. I have to say Joe, I think you are wrong and very badly so. The rules are very clearly written, very precise, and what Michael Masi administered was clearly outside them. The last lap and a bit of the GP were clearly outside the regulations. This was not a matter of interpretation – there is no room to interpret in the areas that Masi, er, extemporised. This is a huge error and massive problem for F1, because they have created a mistake so big and so damaging that it cannot really be undone.

    1. He even contradicted himself with his stance at a race in 2020 where he said all lapped cars must be allowed to unlap themselves before the safety car is released the following lap.
      Rules are put in place to prevent individuals from trying to do what they think is right.
      By not releasing all lapped cars, only one driver was given a clear advantage.
      Many other drivers effectively had their race ended.
      Imagine I was a Ricciardo fan and I watched him pit for fresh Tyres. Suddenly he could only watch those he was racing drive away while he was prevented from chasing them. That is match fixing whatever the good intentions of Masi.
      Sainz was not allowed to fight for the win at the restart, neither was Bottas, who could have attempted a “Perez” on Verstappen thus slowing his attack on the race leader.
      Hus good intentions had consequences for other drivers and races that was taking place behind the leaders which needs to be looked at.

        1. how with this best for the show joe? it is quite clear that hamilton was the rightful winner and masi’s decision [having previously stated all or nothing on recycling lapped cars ]has put F1 into disrepute unless the result is overturned

            1. I’m afraid that is a majority verdict, I don’t know anyone who is voicing your opinion and is borne out by the lapped cars and restart debacle. They cannot unlap, the can and then ignoring the full lap protocol. That’s a reaction. Not a decision.

              Us armchair experts make decision retrospectively, he makes them in real time. I grant you that. We get ridiculed by those we watching with. He gets the entire world on his case. I hear Latifi has been getting hate mail or Twits as they called

              The moment Latifi hit the barrier, I said to my son, another “Drive to survive” F1 convert, Red flag, everyone changes tyres and 5 or 6 lap race with no time pressure to do the repairs.

              Now let’s be clear, if the result was the same you would still have the “Lewis was robbed” brigade because they biased. It would be harder for Verstappen fans other than the Lap 1 farce which would only have slowed Hamilton until DRS was open, Verstappen was not at the races.

              It has been a messy end to the championship and in many ways has looked like previous engineered solutions for a final race showdown. That’s how it seemed. Does not say it’s true

              But opinions are like a derriere, we all have one.

                1. Yes, no one else even on this forum has agreed that Massi made a pig’s ear of it, but he was just using the rules.

                    1. Apologies Jo for spilling Messy’s name wrong. I will make every reasonable endeavour to not pisspronounce his name incorrectly in the future

                2. Walter Rohl has become the latest to join me in the echo chamber and a team owner in IMSA I spoke to. So it’s good company although Walter keeps banging on about the Quattro. I thought he meant Suzi.

      1. Were you watching the same race as everyone else. How was Bottas going to hold up Verstappen from behind him?

  14. Bonjour Joe,
    Always a pleasure to to read your green notebook.You briefly mention ‘BWT/Alpine’ but, unlike the the other points you do not expand on this topic. Will the Alpine sport some pink next year? Might be chromatically challenging if they keep the Castrol green as well…

  15. Thank you Joe. Motorsport is lucky to have you. You could’ve got a proper job easily with your knowledge, insight and ability to analyse and communicate complexities.

    For me, motor racing has never been about supporting anything, drivrr or team. Some I have liked more than others but anyone who signs up deserves respect. Buy the T shirt, wrap yourself in the flag, buy into brand values and hang out with hundreds or thousands of clones is just not for me.

    So I appreciate Max Verstappen but not his ruthlessness. Hamilton is beyond criticism. I’m sorry that Lewis lost after 4 races which defined the season and deserved the result which was denied him.

    I’m sorry that I don’t right now find it in me to let Masi off the hook. His team have got nearly every call wrong since the summer. That is not acceptable for a professional at this level.

  16. A point often missed is that Max overtook Lewis aggressively, fairly and early. Lewis came back well and the two danced around the back of the circuit with great respect
    Granted, there was a big tyre advantage but Lewis isn’t easy to beat, whatever the circumstances.

    In my mind, despite the awful circumstances, the right guy won this year.

  17. For me, the question that needs to be answered is, was that ending ok?

    The result changing is beyond the question, but will The FIA step up and say that wasn’t fair; and changes are afoot to avoid a repeat? Or is F1 headed towards the ropes of ‘sports entertainment, where the spectacle determines the decisions taken by those in charge…

    It’s hard to say they are looking forward to next season when the question as to whether it will be a sporting contest is still up in the air.

    Hopefully the FIA leadership election will result in a sporting enquiry that looks beyond how many eyeballs a decision delivers to their commercial partners.

    F1 sits in a deficit of leadership at the end of the Todt era, with a weekend which deserved the attention of the world on it, ending with confusion as to what it really is.

  18. Hi Joe
    I always miss your words of wisdom during the hiatus. Wishing you a great break. I just have one question as a balance to what we watched in Abu Dhabi – Spa 2021? Surely the inconsistency is there, A couple of laps with no overtaking and a winner is declared and awarded points, albeit 50%.

    Happy Christmas and a wonderful new year to you and yours,

  19. A well reasoned and perfectly balanced perspective on events in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. Whilst being a long-standing fan of Lewis and being hugely disappointed in the way the race ultimately unfolded, I also have enormous respect for Max and it has been a privilege to have witnessed two very different drivers at the peak of their game and in a class of their own locked in intense battle for an entire season – from the first lap in Bahrain to the last lap in Abu Dhabi. Hopefully lessons will be learned to address some of the more controversial events in the season, but none of that can take away from the fact that, for motor racing fans looking at the season as a whole, we got exactly what the majority of us want.

  20. Merci Joe, pour cette synthèse équilibrée d’un évènement mémorable dont tous parleront pour des décennies à venir.

    Merci et bon repos,

    Mario

  21. Hi Joe.
    Did Michael Masi have a difficult decision to make?
    Surely he simply had to apply the rules and therefore there is no decision to make.
    Yes it would be an anti climax for the “new fans”, but was the last lap actually exciting? It was only a matter of when Max would pass Lewis, not if. So heartbreaking for Lewis fans and ecstasy for Max fans (which would simple be reversed if the rules were applied)…
    Thanks for great journalism.

    joyeux Noël

    1. I think we need to get out of the F1 aficionado bubble and talk to casual viewers who tuned in for this title decider. Every one I’ve spoken to does not think this was “good TV” or “exciting”. They all went away completely confused about how and why the winner was suddenly not the winner, and that even the professionals were unsure what the rules are. They now think F1 is opaque, arbitrary and disorganised.

      They watched this race because everyone told them it was a great season and an exciting decider, despite their belief that car racing is not a proper sport, and they left with their opinions reinforced. They won’t come back.

      The casual viewers are looking for exciting sporting competition, not undeserved results or arguments about officials. It is not exciting if it appears to have no sporting integrity.

  22. Great article Joe. As you say, no point looking back and changing the result. It happened and made great, if controversial TV.
    However, It’s time for the FIA to resolve two key anomalies that occurred this year in my view.
    Firstly changing tyres in a red flag stop. This patently disadvantages cars that have already stopped. Maybe there’s a simple solution: you can change under a red if you wish but then you have to do a drive through at some stage later in the race.
    Secondly the safety car conundrum. It’s been an issue before but I can’t recall an unacceptable situation where it changed the result of the world championship.
    I recall a Mr Alonso winning a race courtesy of a team mate crashing and giving him a free safety car pitstop …and the win.
    A simple solution and fairer to those who managed a long stint on older tyres (As Lewis did) might be along these lines:
    If a safety car happens in the last 10 laps of a race, then the race will be stopped, cars may change tyres and then a safety car rolling restart for a minimum of 5 and maximum of 8 laps.
    I hope you enjoy your well earned break Joe.

  23. Marlboro’s first appearance in F1 was on Jo Siffert’s March at Monaco in 1970… and the winter F1 anorak season is open!

  24. I am glad you are back at home safely and having a well-earned rest.
    I have enormous respect for you and your knowledge of F1 and enjoy your notebooks with their mixture of travel, F1 politics and history, but I do not agree the rules were followed.
    If the lapped cars had stayed in place, old school F1, then the safety car comes in at the end of lap 57 and we have a 1 lap race. Does Lewis stay ahead, can Max catch him, who knows, but it is in the rules.
    As soon as the first car unlaps itself, then the safety car as per 48.12 comes in the following lap.
    That is the end of lap 58 and the race ends in safety car order.
    I know you worked in F1 when arbitrary decisions were the norm and the FIA did what it liked, but that does not make it right.
    The race director is in part a referee and therefore follows the rules and procedures and F1 presidents and this was not followed. This is not a subjective decision this a procedure laid out in the sporting regulations.
    If this is not the case then why was Seb disqualified from the Hungarian GP for nor providing 1 litre of fuel or Lewis for having a rear wing out by 0.2mm on one side. These decisions are not subjective, exactly the same as the rules governing the use of the safety car in modern F1 that Masi has talked about during the 2020 season at the Eifel GP.
    Your line about protecting the world championship is very dangerous. I agree with this in regard to a refereeing subjective judgement and that is why we have stewards and the court of appeal, but this was not that. Otherwise you would allow the race director to do whatever they like to improve the show. Maybe they need to have legal officials on the stewards’ panel for a case like this or in race control to ensure the rules are followed.
    I am a player, official and referee in another sport and I can honestly say F1 broke its own procedural rules and you cannot do that and retain sporting integrity. It does not matter if it benefited one driver or nineteen drivers it is a serious breach of the rules that materially affected the result.
    Sporting integrity for officials and referees is everything; otherwise it is no longer a sport.
    I am nowhere near as knowledgeable as you, but I have been following F1 since the mid to late 1970’s, I am not here for the show; for me it is a complex sometimes heart breaking sport.
    If F1 cannot abide by its own rules to determine a world champion then what is its point.
    This is about the future direction of F1, whether it is a sport or a show?

    1. For what it’s worth, I agree with all that you have said. Masi chose entertainment over sporting integrity, and that surely is outside his remit as race director.

  25. Masi’s partial unlapping call was unprecedented and the race was already cooked by then. Merc didn’t gamble by coming in; they calculated (justly) that either a restart with backmarkers in place, or a finish under SC, as the rules would normally dictate, would result in a win. Red Bull’s gamble was a nothing-to-lose move that stood to gain nothing in normal circumstances. Masi handed the title to Max on a platter and your analysis really doesn’t hold water, IMHO. Finishing under SC would have been a damp squib for the casual viewer, but there really wasn’t another option. An unsatisfactory fix, this was, and while some may give an under-resourced race director the benefit of the doubt, he is not naïve enough not to have understood the result of his call in advance.

    1. It was without precedent, correct. But it broke no rules. And, to be honest, it was the right thing to do for F1. It was tough on Lewis, too true…

  26. Joe,
    I’m so very glad you were able to show Kyle Larson around the Yaz Marina paddock. I can’t think of a better tour guide to answer his questions.
    Larson is obviously quite successful in NASCAR (2021 champion) but he’s also a champion in Sprint cars and has acquitted himself quite well in WEC/Sports cars (co-driver of the 2015 24 Hours of Daytona overall winning car). He’s a car control god. And NASCAR’s regulation changes for 2022 (e.g., a move to low profile tires) seem likely to favor Larson given his racing background.
    There is a lot of talk here in the States about getting Larson into the Indy 500 (a la Alonso) but I think that’s unwise, given the risks posed by the walls. Given the increased F1 interest driven by the Netflix series, and the forthcoming races in Miami and Las Vegas, he ought to consider F1 as his next challenge.
    Question: could Larson or his sponsors arrange a private F1 test that wouldn’t violate that team’s testing restrictions? Perhaps with a year-old F1 car?
    Enjoy your forthcoming break!

    1. That is one mighty storm brewing that may be bigger than the tea cup. I know Russell is very respectful and mature but all that can’t get in the way of the foot on the throttle.
      Russell as the real threat to both Hamilton and Verstappen.

    2. G’day GP,
      You gave me a big smile. I’ve followed Georges career through the ranks. He is an exceptional driver. A couple of the Willy crew tell me he also has the work ethic. My fear is that the team is so focused on one driver that no matter if the other driver has equal equipment etc, it becomes impossible for him to compete on a regular basis.
      Perhaps George is so much better he will overcome any problems he encounters. I think that is possible. I will enjoy finding out. We are being spoilt by the most exceptionally good field of drivers ever assembled in motorsport.
      Also watch out for a new driver hopefully in 2023. It’s a sin he is not driving in 2022, his name is Oscar Piastri. If anyone can beat George it is Oscar. Again I hope I enjoy finding out.
      regards, build

  27. We must congratulate Mr Masi and the Stewards for withstanding all that hullabaloo from Mercedes.
    He certainly seems to be the nicest of guys trying to do a job that in reality requires a Rottweiler or a Doberman pincher.

    He would benefit from taking on an assistant or two, preferably strong willed types whoo can enforce decisions with a will of iron. Could Ron Dennis be lured back from MI6?

    As for Mercedes, if they still wish to play games with appeals and what not, then the Stewards should award Mr Hamilton a 5 second penalty, to apply retrospectively, for leaving the track and gaining an advantage on lap1 (I know this means reversing their earlier ruling).
    I feel sure many friends here will agree….

  28. Four things that I personally feel after Sunday.

    1). If the FIA had that time again they would have handled it differently.
    2). The sport scored a huge own goal and the rules will be very clear/different next year.
    3). Through no fault of his own (he deserved it over the season) Max’s first title has been somewhat tarnished which is an ashame as he drove brilliantly (all season).
    4). Lewis Hamilton reaction after the race….. First Class.

    Personally, I like to see Lewis awarded an honorary world championship title even if it is not the real thing. Just a way of saying sorry, even if FIA (legally) feel that they did nothing wrong.

    1. Why stop there, perhaps give one to Jean-Pierre Wimille, he would have beaten Fangio if he wasn’t killed on the circuit. Then surely Peter Collins is due one too for giving Fangio his last because he was a gentleman. Stirling Moss, he must get at least one for backing Hawthorn in 1958. Taffy von Tripps would have won one, if it wasn’t for dying on the circuit. Perhaps say the great John Surtees wasn’t really works champion as he was gifted it in team orders. My all time favourite SuperSwede Ronnie would have won at least one. Then there is Mike Beutler, maybe give him one for trying with his money. The winners are the rightful winners and the losers are just names in the record book. But if course we live in an age were even the stupid must be rewarded, an honorary world championship for finishing second over 21 races is just a continuation of this trend. Maybe give Masi an honourable milk monitor badge while we about it or an iron cross for JM Balestre

  29. A very balanced view and always fascinating details.

    Personally I’m uncomfortable that the focus was just on 2 drivers at the end and the same opportunity wasn’t given throughout the field. Sianz for example couldn’t try for p2. I thought the rules apply to all competitors in equal measure (Naive of me maybe).

    Hopefully the lessons can be learnt and rules improved.

      1. G’day Rinodina,
        Sainz is not complaining. Among others Carlos has had a great year competing with a great team mate much to my delight.
        build

  30. Thank you Joe as always for your considered thoughts on what in the end was a shambles and a poor reflection onF1.

    It has been quite clear that Michael Masi has been under immense pressure for many months. I believe your valued opinion that he is a ‘good guy’. He therefore needed and deserved more support which he clearly did not get. This led to the eventual shambolic finish to last weeks Grand Prix.

    Rather than rehearse the rights and wrongs of what happened I should like to support Fernando Alonso apparent suggestion that the Championship be split with joint winners. It may well leave Lewis and Max fans feeling deprived of an outright win but I think would be a win for F1. It carries forward the tied position that all F1 fans and more importantly many more millions that were excited by before last weekends race.

    I think both drivers deserved the title. They have given us an intensely competitive year. The outcome on Sunday will be an honourable draw rather than a tarnished victory for one and and a very questionable rule interpretation for the other.

    It would facilitate the avoidance of lengthy Legal wrangling and allow the both the World Champions to clink glasses at Thursday’s presentation.

    It would be a reaffirmation that F1 is a sport but also a good indicator to Porsche and Audi that it not the Circus that it appeared on Sunday

    1. @ Siddle Thank you for raising the possible impact on Porsche and Audi (and other manufacturers) entering F1. That has crossed my mind too – for if F1 becomes mere entertainment will they be less interested?

  31. Why does the last lap have to be exciting? It very rarely is. Without Latiffi’s intervention the race was going to finish with Lewis 12 or so seconds ahead of Max. Netflix could still have injected some faux excitement even with a safety car trundle.
    As an aside Joe, you do seem in a minority re correct interpretation of the regulations.

    1. G’day David,
      Apart from the opinions of one eyed Hamilton and Merc fans the majority are looking to those who understand the rules for an interpretation. I do not see any of those disagree with Joe’s interpretation.
      Are you familiar with the rules? Have you read 15.3 ? You can find the regulations on the FIA website.
      build

  32. With due respect I think it was a travesty of rules not followed, or at least ridden roughshod over with an apparent carte blanche for the Race Director to do what he wanted, and of very weak stewardship over the last half of the season.

    Masi despite being apparently likeable is weak. His handling of Max pushing Lewis off in Brazil was a weak joke, and directly led to the acrimony in the other races. Interestingly Max was penalised for the same manoeuvres in Saudi and AD (he forced Lewis off the road again). A pass is not a legitimate pass if the other driver has to actively steer completely off the track to avoid a collision. Masi also continually reacted to Team Boss demands. He needs to lead, not react to who shouts loudest. F1 needs a way stronger Race Director, and teams should be stopped badgering him directly.

    Max is a very worthy champion, but it left me feeling robbed to watch a whole season, and finally the result was determined by pot luck. What a waste of an entire year’s investment viewing it. Normally in sport I let it wash over after a few hours, but after two days I’m still angry about it, just a robbed feeling that sport lost. If next season starts the same then I’m off, Sky is damned expensive and I only have it to watch F1. I want a sport, and officials should normally be invisible and not key to the results.

    On top of safety or VS car rules that are pot luck. F1 should be a meritocracy and not left to pure chance. Stop the “free” tyre changes, or outrageous advantages gained please FIA. Sort out the Safety car rules. The F1 fan survey was very clear in that it should be a pure sport and not a show. Closing up hard won gaps, and letting someone get a substantial tyre offset is not racing to me.

    Last part of mini rant. Lord I hope the new tyres allow flat out racing again. The hard tyres this weekend seemed to allow the drivers to push flat out without overheating, and they could follow for longer – more please.

  33. The real looser?
    Honda and any potential engine supplier.
    Millions of words written/spoken on the outcome of this race and it seems that the supplier of the winning engine is not worth even a passing mention.
    Thank you Honda.

  34. Joe Saward: “It was without precedent, correct. But it broke no rules. And, to be honest, it was the right thing to do for F1. It was tough on Lewis, too true…”

    Then why have 48.12 at all then? Their argument seems to be that 48.13 and 15.3 trump 48.12 at the will of the Race Director. And 48.12 pretty plainly states “once the last lapped car has passed the leader…”, not “once a hand selected subset of cars have passed the leader”.

    Look, I get that sometimes there can be an unlucky turn of events for someone who looks like they’re about to win, and by all other accounts for the event should have. That’s sport. It happens. But it seems to me that you’re (Joe) bending pretty far backward to accommodate an outcome that really shouldn’t have been, just to avoid “a damp squib”, as you put it, of an end to the race, the season, and the championship. But just like driver’s might not get the outcome they want, because an unlucky turn of events, so too do the fans.

    Those racing regulations exist, because those in particular around the safety car, let everyone know what to expect, both for safety’s sake and to remove any aspect of shenanigans being pulled, or Race Directors succumbing to pressure from vested interests.

    The second Masi called to allow for cars to overtake to unlap themselves, the race should have functionally been over. Would that have been a satisfying end? No, not really. But then, an 11-15 second gap between the race leaders also wouldn’t have been much of a satisfying end.

    The time to discuss, revise, and implement changes to 48.12 should have started Monday morning, not with 2 laps to go, with radio chatter coming from all over, and a clearly frazzled Masi making a decision that satisfies no one, other than making a few short lived headlines (and some great Drive to Survive episodes).

    To me, this isn’t like a ref missing a call on the pitch. It’s a ref that changed the distance to the goal that a player needed to place the ball, in decisive penalty kick in a World Cup Championship game. That’s a “damp squib” if there ever was one.

      1. There’s a difference between being excited, and being satisfied.

        It also would have been “exciting” to see a meteorite crash into the track and bring an end to the race, but it wouldn’t be a satisfying result.

        You’re trying to have it both ways, where on the one hand you’ve said it’s just bad luck for Hamilton, and that’s sport. I agree with you on that, to a point. As I said, sport is FULL of outcomes that resulted from missed calls in the midst of the action. It happens, and I think I can safely say that you and I agree fully on that. Where we separate is that, this event wasn’t an assessment by stewards trying to assess racing lines, intent, and exactly where a car was in an apex. Safety car is deployed and recalled, sure, let 15.3 and 48.13 determine how that process is played out. But call for overtaking of leaders and the safety car, and 48.12 dictates how that’s done, as boring as that might be. But instead, you’re taking an almost Air Bud approach to this, except instead of saying “ain’t no rule that a dog can’t play basketball” it’s “ain’t no rule that says the race director can’t hand select cars to overtake”. [Except…48.12 does address that directly.] But then, I guess if it’s for the sake of excitement, that’s what really matters.

          1. Then the teams and the FIA work that out in the interim so it ends up in the regulations, so that when that situation arises the Race Director isn’t having to make a split second judgement call and ALL the teams know what to expect heading into the race (any race).

            But that’s not what is currently in the regulations, and as boring as it would have been, and unlucky for Verstappen, and us fans, it would have been the prudent thing to do from a racing perspective. Either the regs dictate the sport or the ratings/”engagement”/”likes”/”retweets” do. One is sport, the other is reality TV and we might as well view the races as “The Real Drivers of Formula 1” and start broadcasting on Bravo.

          2. Damn! I could have won a lot more races if only I had realized that I as a competitor got to call the shots rather than officials following the rule book.

    1. I’m glad that Nathan mentioned the word safety. By bringing the safety car in early, extra risk was created for the people in the safety car and the race drivers. Suppose the safety car had some trouble on track before it made it back to the pits. The lead drivers could have come upon this car going at full beans. Unintended consequences could have happened.

    2. Joe can’t say Masi was wrong. Joe works and belongs to this circle. They are all somewhat friends and depend on each other for news and access to information. Of course Joe or any other journalist will not flat out blame the race director for being being weak, pushed over by Team Principals and efectively deciding the race result.. Joe and everyone else in this F1 circle need to be Switzerland

  35. Thanks Joe for all the Green Notebooks; they’re something I look forward to after every race. And thanks for all the effort you make to attend races and report for us fans. I agree with your analysis of the ‘incident’.

    Here’s a comment I posted on another F1 website….

    “I can’t believe so many have so much invested in Max or Lewis stock….. The result shouldn’t be changed, but there needs to be a serious look at the rules and at Masi’s job. Clarity would be good. Lewis was magnanimous in loss and it honors him. Max and Lewis didn’t do anything wrong or illegal in the race; sometimes shyte just happens. It was refreshing to have Lewis challenged and beaten and it was great to have Lewis challenge and beat Max. They are both great drivers and the gaps they generated to the rest of the field were embarrassing. Mercedes would be smart to give up the appeal as it makes them look bad. Toto and Christian need to be banned from trying to sway decisions with the race director and if they aren’t we shouldn’t be hearing the discussions.

    A great season and some great drives with Max starting to show maturity and Lewis driving brilliantly in the last races. Next year will be good.”

  36. Thank you for your part in this great season. The Notebooks have been terrific.

    I really was good with either man winning the title, I can’t recall a season where two drivers were so consistent and so far ahead of the pack, it was truly amazing. I do feel it was just about as tough a defeat as Hamilton could have had. As good as Verstappen has been this year, Hamilton had him beat and to get Hamilton’s crown he really should have had to land the knock out punch rather than win on a split decision. The reality is that under past (normal) safety car proceedures Hamilton would be champion, still.

  37. Thank you Joe great Read !

    Can you point me in the direction of an article you wrote some time ago about companies sending theyre employees to be marshalls in races as team building excersizes ?

    Thanks !

  38. My brother’s reaction to this notebook:

    In a sport where pole positions are won by 1000ths of seconds, cars are sent to the back of the grid for having an extra 0.2 millimetre gap in their wing and teams make split second strategy decisions based on thousands of pieces of data, the rules and procedures have to be strictly adhered to by the teams.
    The rules are there for safety first, and fairness second. The teams will push the boundaries of the rules, and sometimes get away with it, sometimes not, but they all have to follow them, and make their tactical decisions based on them (e.g. Pit or No Pit)

    9 races have finished under a safety car, including the 2012 Brazilian GP that crowned Sebastian Vettel 3x world champion which ‘received widespread acclaim’

    Some teams get lucky with a safety car pit stop, other teams unlucky, but they all know the procedure and make a decision based on it. The safety car should be a constant around which the teams can operate.

    It may not have been as exciting to finish the race under the safety car, but it was still an exciting race and up to that point a fair one. People would still have talked about it – could Max have caught Lewis and passed him in the last lap? Would Lewis’ tires have lasted to the end? Who knows? but against a constant and fair framework of F1 rules and regulations, Hamilton would have won the race and the championship.

    Formula1 promotes Fairness and Equality with it’s ‘We Race as One’ message. If there is a problem with a rule it should be changed, in a fair way so all the teams have the same chance, not at the last moment just to spice things up.

      1. I tend to agree with a lot of it, certainly in principle. However, on the day I can see it was an impossibly hard decision with the time constraints etc and I think Masi did his best to get the racing happening again which is what I really wanted. It was unfair to poor Lewis, but the end result was incredibly exciting, about as much adrenaline in that 90 seconds as I’ve experienced all season! I totally disagree with some others view that this is F1 descending into WWF territory though, it was simply a very unlikely end to one of the best seasons I’ve ever seen.

        I understand that the crash wasn’t so bad as to warrant a red flag, but with hindsight that probably would have been the fairest thing to do and then have a sprint to the finish. One or several banzai laps could have been amazing in a more even field. Even then, some might have seen this to favour Max as his quali pace was obviously mighty.

  39. My favourite part of a post f1 race weekend, the notebook and the considered comments. An avid fan of the sport for 30 years, I feel that the sport was turned into a form of contrived entertainment for the last lap. This saddens me. To me the race is a race over x laps, not the last one. It is also a race for all drivers, not just the first 2. Rule 48.12 should be applied to all competitors equally. In my considered view, rule 15.3(e) is a clause setting out the duties and authority over the clerk of the course, rather than carte blanche power over the safety car procedures. Others will disagree. I’m happy with that – indeed it’s wrong I’ve wanted to look for the rules and analyse, and I’m not particularly interested or invested in who is world champion, I’m watching it as a sport with parity for all inc say 3rd placed drivers. The FIA need to apologise for MM decision making under extreme stress, review the procedures and give MM more support. Even if he was, after all, doing it for the right reasons. Merc need to move on, like Lewis did very graciously. Faith can be restored to those fans who watch it through every race, but it needs some acceptance of fault for the unfair and unnecessary outcome depriving a worthy winner of a sporting spectacle, a win. I’m happier being an f1 fan than a part time traffic lawyer. Joe, thank you for your writing and blog. It is a treasure. Best wishes to all on here.

  40. I think that it’s fair to say that Verstappen winning the title could be better for the sport from a marketing perspective – Lewis has been winning for a very long time and it’s reasonable to want a change.

    But do you think it would also be fair to say that the means that were used to make that happen are damaging to the sport’s credibility? We had well informed TV commentators announcing that Lewis is as good as the champion on the penultimate lap because they assumed that the safety car would follow normal procedures, and then struggling to explain what happened next.

  41. I don’t think anybody can seriously deny that both Verstappen and Hamilton would have been deserving winners for their performances throughout the year, but Masi has made himself look ridiculous. He seems to have lost the confidence of many people, including drivers. Maybe banning the teams from badgering him during races will help, but he desperately needs to regain people’s confidence that he can handle the pressure of the job without wilting. Because that’s how it looks, he just does not seem to be up to the demands of the job.

  42. Thanks for a great column and great season of reporting.The piece from GP+ you reprinted sums up my feelings perfectly.It’s only rock n’ roll.
    Have a great holiday.

  43. To answer the question of sport versus entertainment, in my humble opinion sport went out the window the day the DRS system was introduced. I no longer watch F1 as every race is now manipulated.

      1. Maybe because I thought an inherent skill was needed to perform at that level, and maybe I was somewhat obtuse in my comment. I’m sure Verstappen lost a GP recently where he was leading into the last few laps only for Hamilton, who was closing fast, to pass with the aid of the DRS. I question whether he would have got by without it? No doubt Hamilton has suffered similarly.

  44. Interesting read on many aspects Joe, but how can you say that Masi didn’t break any rule is beyond comprehension.

    48.12 clearly states that either all lapped cars would overtake, and in that case the race shall restart on the following lap, or no overtaking would be allowed. There is no middle ground, no partial solution to that.

    As a lawyer, albeit not a sports specialist, I can tell you that the suggestions that 15.3 or 48.13 gave the Race Director overriding power is so preposterous that it would get shredded in any impartial court.

    Obviously Mercedes may decide not to proceed with the appeal. The FIA court is not impartial and the matter could be brought in front of the Court of Arbitration (CAS) only if the FIA agrees to, which I don’t see happening. But that doesn’t change the truth on what happened in YMC: Masi had to make a decision, and picked one that had no grounds in the rules.

    Is Max a worthy champion? Yes he is. Would Lewis have been a worthy champion too? Sure he would have.

    But that’s not a reason to slide everything under the carpet.

      1. I know that article, but it gives the Race Director overriding authority over the Clerk of the Course, not over the rules themselves!

      2. 15.3e does NOT give the race director carte blanche authority to contravene the safety car procedure and create a new procedure out of thin air! Please, quote for me the article in the sporting regulations which explicitly states that the race director is god and can, at will, throw out any published regulation and substitute his own. Because 15.3 does not say that. I am stunned that you seem quite happy for the rule book to be thrown out the window in favor of the championship being concluded in a perfect little made for Netflix bundle. Earlier you said Masi did what was best for the sport. I’m sure you would agree that it would also be best for the sport if Ferrari were in the mix for the championship. So what regulation should Masi manipulate to make that come to pass? In the best interests of the sport and all.

        1. The rule book was the problem. It was not thrown out of the window. In any case, it is time for Christmas…enjoy it

  45. G’day Joe! Wow…what a mammoth Green Notebook entry!

    Firstly thank you for the balanced view on probably the most divisive sequence of events many of us have witnessed in F1…which I feel is always your position, despite the protests of others who often try to paint you with a very different brush. As I’ve argued on may different platforms over the last few days, I don’t see how Masi could have done anything differently. Correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t it been the way for many years now that any/all races would not be ended under a SC unless it was impossible to restart? Also, the removal of backmarkers between the leaders… this rule was introduced to prevent backmarkers disrupting the battle for the lead/podium… not 5th-10th… so surely Masi applied the intent of this rule, even though the popular argument is that he didn’t allow ALL cars to pass… when the rules state “any” regardless.

    The Championship wasn’t “decided” at the last race, there was 22 races run and it may look like a “last lap” victory for Max on paper, but in reality, wasn’t it a last lap “salvage”? The little discussed fact, when it comes to my analysis…is that the person who truly “decided” this Championship was actually Valterri Bottas!

    Give Max back the points he inevitably lost by being wiped out at the first corner in Hungary by Bottas (because that isn’t “fair” on him is it?) to use the term “fair” as many have done when it comes to this instance… and the Championship was always in Max’s hands. Further to this, if Bottas was anywhere near Max’s SC pit window in Abu Dhabi, then RBR wouldn’t have been able to pit Max for fear of ending up behind him on the restart. Mercedes shot themselves in the foot, by not having a quick enough 2nd driver, for fear of destabilising Lewis…seems like all roads lead back to Toto! 🙂

    Anyway, just some food for thought…I’m sure mine isn’t a very popular opinion and for the record, I’m neither a Max nor and RBR fan, my interest is the sport I love and how there is no conspiracy against Lewis here, despite all the protestaions otherwise. Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year… hope to see you in Melbourne all things being equal. Cheers! Lorenzo.

  46. This is what you get when the FIA decides to sacrifice sporting integrity for spectacle. Welcome to WWF F1.

    I appreciated your words on Hamilton. I’ve been astonished by his maturity this year. A small hostage to fortune (which I doubt I’ll live to see either way): after his career as a driver, after his post-F1 career as a media star, he’ll end up as an F1 team principal. And he’ll win championships in that role too.

  47. Watching that last lap was comparable to watching a hanged man on the way down (sorry for the macabre allusion). It’s the end, no matter what. And then it’s over.

    But I would like to ask for a discussion, looking forward, on the “Verstappen Crash or Pass” technique. Leave braking so late you pass the apex and your competitor, with little to no turning; force the competitor to either crash, stop or run off the track. Then continue happily in the lead.

    The Crash or Pass technique has historically been sparingly used, but in the last few races it has been exercised quite a bit by MV. Last Suday defended by, of all people, Martin Brundle!.

    I’m very puzzled, after watching F1 since 1957, by this behavior: I’ve never seen anything like it other than clear fouls. Any comments?

    1. It’s just an extension of the dive bomb technique that has been around for 5+ years now, used by Ricciardo lots it feels like. Brake at the last minute with minimal steering input, park the car on the apex and then turn so you’re not quick in the corner, but you get away with it. How do you maximize that: Ruin the corner, but stay on the track.

  48. Close the pits during safety car periods and sort out the car positions by shuffling them backwards behind the safety car and this situation would be avoided.

  49. Joe thanks for your Notebooks this year it’s nice to read balanced opinion from someone who has been around the block more than a few times. Glad you got that recalcitrant app to work. Enjoy your break

  50. I cannot for the life of me see how you arbitrarily remove the lapped cars between Lewis and Max.
    Yet leave the lapped cars between Max and Carlos.
    Does Carlos not have an equal opportunity to go for 2nd place or the win for that matter if the front two trip over themselves.
    Also allowed Max to fully concentrate on Lewis without looking in his mirrors.
    That Mr Masi is a motor race.
    I hope this goes to court not to change the outcome but to stop this travesty from being swept under carpet.
    If the situation was reversed Red Bull would do exactly the same so please Mr Horner spare me the sore losers tag.

      1. You’ve quoted 15.3E numerous times through this thread. But clause 15 is nothing more than division of responsibility. There is a separate clause that deals with the procedures and clause 15.3E surely doesn’t override that. If it did, why bother to have a safety car procedure clause. You could just rely on 15.3E.

          1. The protest was thrown out because the FIA wanted to have Max as Champion to introduce drama and spice thus driving up revenues. The excuse they found was 15.3e but as has been stated numerous times that is a matter explaining the hierarchy of descion making not the rules that must be implemented in that process.

            You Joe are an intelligent man and you know there is a big difference between saying “that’s why it was thrown out” and ” it was thrown out because it was an incorrect challenge” so being direct do you believe that the rules were interpreted correctly?

            Personally I cannot see how a rule can apply only to some of the lapped cars. To do so specifically changes the dynamics between only two drivers to the detriment of one and manifestly does not treat all the other drivers the same. Either a rule must apply to all or to none.

            The rules to me seems to be clear that all cars must unlap and the SC should have done another lap. That a brand new never seen before interpretation suddenly is given that basically allows the race director to chose who will win and who will not is not just a sporting abuse but one issue that you would imagine the betting companies must have a strong interest in getting to the bottom of.

    1. That’s a good point Gary about Carlos. Underlines the fact that the RD was only interested in the race for some drivers, not the race itself.

  51. Thanks for your wonderful contributions Joe, I always really enjoy your calm appraisal, unsurprising when it is set in a nice Normandy forest 😉

    Whatever anyone’s opinion of it all, it left me feeling that our sport has changed fully into an entertainment (something that we have been warned about for a number of years) as opposed to a rule-driven sport. Resurrecting feelings from the past (been following F1 since the early 80s), for instance scenes of Senna in the FIA room pleading his case. It is unsettling as it feels the governing of is so opinion-based that it becomes comparable to a competition decided by a judge’s decision than rules (Strictly Come Dancing perhaps darling?). I am not being literal here of course, but I am just saying it feels like it – the white line interpretation is one that really cooks my grits as well – can we have more definitive rules please, not grey areas where the ref feels like applying it? I realise that we cannot change the result as that would undermine the sport more, but there absolutely has to be some sort of change for the positive that comes out of this and to manage this move into the area of entertainment first, rules second.

  52. Over the years we’ve grown used to the FIA manipulating the championship through selective interpretation of the rules to keep things alive to the last race, but usually with regulatory decisions over barge boards, tyre profiles and the like. But never has it been this acute.

    The precedent is set that the Race Director can selectively interpret the rules in the interest of spectacle rather than sport. “The best decision is my decision”, as someone once said. Last year he was very, very sure that it was “all cars”. I guess he changed his mind.

    1. Different circumstances require different actions. It’s easy to knock the FIA but I don’t believe things have manipulated at all in the current era, post-Mosley

      1. “There’s a requirement in the sporting regulations to wave all the lapped cars past.” – Michael Masi, 2020, Germany.

        That’s uncomfortable to read now, and whenever an official changes the way he applies rules, he opens himself to the appearance of manipulation or at least error. It happens sometimes, but this was the final lap of a championship decider at the end of an historic season-long battle.

      2. > I don’t believe things have manipulated at all in the current era

        I’d suggest that things were manipulated to create an artificially close race .

        I’d agree that the FIA didn’t care what the actual outcome was. But they wanted a close battle to the final seconds, and chose to sacrifice sporting integrity to get it.

        Was it Sir Frank who said that F1 was a sport on Sunday afternoons from green light to chequered flag, and a business the rest of the time? Starting this year, it’s a business on Sunday afternoons too.

      3. Interesting last comment Joe. Infers that during Mosley era there was manipulation.

        1991 to 2009 via FISA and FIA President.

        Spygate (I hate the way people put “gate” onto things after Watergate). Was Ron Dennis punished simply because he didn’t like him? I’ve long suspected the 2007 WDC was not kosher on back of this, but probably tin hat time for me.

        Can’t think of any more obvious ones, but Ferrari did get away with quite a lot for flexi floors or tea trays.

        Or is there more?

  53. Interesting thoughts as always Joe. And I’d agree that Mercedes would be best placed to park their anger, count the cash from the Constructors Championship, and use the anger to go even better next year. I don’t think any sort of Court case, no matter how brief, does anyone any favours.

    As for Michael Masi. I’ve never thought him up to the job, he appear to panic, lose his head and end up making capricious decisions. He’s had a lot of mitigation- the sudden passing of Charlie Whiting threw him in the deep end in 2019, then 2020 was 2020. The issue for me isn’t so much the decisions he makes, more the fact he doesn’t consistently make similar decisions in similar circumstances. Azerbaijan and Abu Dhabi were largely the same circumstances but with very different decisions.

    And we saw last week in Jeddah that pitting early under a safety car and losing track position is also a big risk if a red subsequently gets thrown. Especially as Masi doesn’t seem particularly proactive in putting the red flags out; in Jeddah last week it was obvious as soon as the Haas hit the wall that it was going to take some time to rebuild the barriers, yet Masi ummed and erred for five laps before giving half the field a free pit stop.

    I imagine Mercedes- sensibly- were working on the basis that either the race would end under a safety car or that Masi would throw a red to get his grandstand finish, like he did in Baku, and didn’t want to hand Verstappen track position.

    When Charlie was in charge you might agree with him or you might disagree with him, but at least you largely knew what he was going to decide and could plan accordingly.

    As for the team principals haranguing the referee, of course they’re going to do it. It happens in every sport. A strong referee would tell them both to shut up. Charlie Whiting would have told them both to shut up. The problem isn’t the fact that the team managers harangue the referee, the problem is that the referee lets it affect him. Belgium was a brilliant example. Perez crashed his car and got a lift back to the pits on a tow truck. Masi said he was out, Jonathan Wheatley stamped his little feet, and suddenly Perez was back in the race. It got missed with all the other nonsense at Spa, but that just summed the race direction this year up perfectly.

  54. Now the aggro from the massive screw ups are dying down, we can look back and see that Mario Andretti summed it up perfectly. “Master class in how to be the best in every way”…

    Hamilton may want an 8th title but he is already one of the all time elite. He has lost 4 championships with the most minute of events going against him (2007 – China tyres – to Raikkonen; was it 2009 or 10 to Vettel when he lost a wheel on last lap in Spain; a 28 point swing with engine failure against Rosberg; and the Masi issues this year) – and he gained one, his first, passing a Toyota on the last corner.

    He could be anything from a 6 times to 11 times champion, not one of them won in a Dick Dastardly / Schumacher style, and won with a growing element of class year on year. Hopefully he can remind Toto Wolff how to accept victory and defeat equally..

    Max is a great driver, took the good wishes from Hamilton and Wolff with good grace, so hopefully he can somehow inject this element of grace and class into the Red Bull organisation. A element which has been totally lacking from their operation from day 1…

    let’s have a break guys and gals, draw breath and hope we can all stay healthy for the bell starting the next round…

  55. I think my main complaint is that it wasn’t ‘racing’ for anyone other than Max and Lewis. Weren’t Sainz and Tsunoda also on new tyres? Why weren’t they allowed to race? They may also have got past Lewis on his old rubber. Then the 5 released cars were split off from any possible fight behind and ahead of them.

    That’s what leaves the bad taste in my mouth, they manufactured a situation to get the Netflix friendly fight for the win, and basically ignored the rest of the field.

    Can only think it was either Horner’s complaints or someone on high at Liberty reacting that changed things, as we seemed to go from heading for a restart with lapped cars in place, to a sudden ‘oh, these 5 can go’ a few corners from the end. Presumably if the release call had been made at the start of that lap then at the least all the lapped ones would be out the way, if not able to rejoin the queue at the back.

    1. /Weren’t Sainz and Tsunoda also on new tyres?/

      Sainz was on old tyres but had two cars to be lapped in front of him (separating him from Max’s back).
      Tsunoda (and Gasly, too) was on new tyres and overtook Bottas who was on old ones.

  56. Wonderful post as always – such a pleasure to read and feels criminal that we get this for free.

    The first F1 season I can remember watching culminated in Nigel Mansell’s blow out in Adelaide: a sound education in sporting fate and the futility of seeking fairness in sport.

    However this is the first time I’ve felt so disillusioned following a race. It really has despoiled an entire season of pleasure for me as what had up until now been a genuine sporting contest (and an absorbing clash of styles, experience vs youth) descended into tawdry soap opera. This was not the vagaries of sporting fate, but as a result of flawed decision-making that favours drama over sporting integrity.

    Prior to Sunday, 1994’s denouement was my F1 nadir. However then, the bad aftertaste was caused by the cynicism and contemptuousness of a competitor letting the sport down. On Sunday, it was the cynicism and contemptuousness of the sport that let the competitors down: that is both sad and worrying for the future of a sport I love.

  57. 15.3e is surely in the context of *who* governs the safetfy car, not how. Otherwise what is the point of all of Article 48?

  58. Huge jump in audience figures in the UK where it was streamed live on Channel 4. Now sponsors can see how much they are loosing by having the UK audience restricted to SKY and its associates in the UK.

      1. Hopefully Liberty will be able to market F1 TV in 🇬🇧 when Lupert’s latest deal comes to an end. Sadly it’s not DC’s commentary but rent a pointless stat and stupid laughs ArseCrofty behind the mic, but it’s so easy to watch and if you have a nice PC set up can have multiple feeds.

        There is a silly it’s so cheap option, probably just the practice and race stuff or what I bought for $80 a year which has so much content it’s incredible.

  59. The ending may satisfy the new to F1 viewers who want non stop excitement ( ie Americans and their extra large cups of soda ) but will they still be viewing after a couple of races where nothing appears to be happening???

    After several boring races when fans have complained about lack of action, the defence has been ” there is a lot more going on than meets the eye, isn’t the technology amazing” I would have been satisified with a SC ending on Sunday if that is how it had to be.

    I go to Silverstone each year plus one trip abroad so know how to spend £k’s paying for travel, hotel, tickets at £500ea. I have sat through seriously dull Monaco races but loved the event. Please F1, don’t go down the route of making sure there is a happy ending. ( pun intended )

    It is what it is, even if Michael, this is so not right.

    Thanks Joe for your work during the season and rest well before it all starts again.

  60. I’m sorry – but I’ve been watching F1 for 20 years, and I’m seriously considering not watching any more – and I am not alone by any means As far as I am aware you have to let ALL lapped cars go through. Or none. If you’re going to have rules then follow them, don’t bend them over so far that they’re doubled back on themselves and break, just for the sake of the spectacle – or, essentially, make them up on the fly. Verstappens driving has been appalling this past year, he is using his car as a weapon to shove people off, and he is not being stopped. So it will continue into next year and beyond.

    1. Then you will remember this, correct?

      “I think there is a balance. I don’t ever try to be aggressive to endanger anyone. I drive aggressively because my car is not fast enough at times and I have to push and be aggressive.”

      “If I had a car I could cruise around in, then I wouldn’t have to be aggressive.”

      Yep, one Lewis Hamilton, as a slightly older than Max 26 y.o. Lewis as a young driver could be nasty. Max can be nasty. NEITHER has driven purposely into each other to wreck a race and determine the WDC outcome, ala, Prost-Senna. Hell, I would argue that Schumacher was the nastiest and most-wreckless driver I have ever watched.

      My point is that when you are an excellent driver with lesser equipment you have to race harder, leading you to be the “nasty” driver and you risk more than the guy with the faster, better car.

      If you are upset over the handling of the final laps, I am with you. If you think Max is an unrestrained hell on wheels, then I would say you have not watched for 20+ years….closely, that is.

      1. I think you need to watch the interview on Sky right after the race with Christian Horner and Adrian Newey. Newey said RedBull had the quicker car over the season because of the change in rules regarding the rake of the cars. So what I’m trying to say is that Max had the faster car. This was admitted by their chief designer.

        1. I’m in the US. Can’t watch Sky. Thank you for that info, I would love to see that clip. Over the course of the year at many tracks? Yes. On the last four? No. Since I watch via F1TV, I get the Sky RACE feed. All their commentators spoke of the last four races favoring Merc bc of the longer straights, track layouts, etc.

          My point in sharing the above is that we tend to look at things through biased eyes, based upon our favorite driver, etc. I genuinely have no fave. I just like good racing. I hate how the last laps were handled. I do not think, however, that this is the worst thing ever and I sure as hell am NOT going to stop watching as a result. I find that many people who are screaming things like this today are living the hyperbole life. People who say such things look foolish (to me only, maybe) because they truly, deep down do not mean it. In the end, we watch F1 b/c we like/love the sport of it but, it is NOT life. At least for me, it is not. Max is the WDC no matter how hard people try to discredit it. I can live with that. I think he is the more deserving of the two this year, just as Lewis was more deserving in 2016 based upon the results but that one went to Nico. An argument could be made for Pironi, Watson, or even Prost in ’82, Prost again in ’84 was better than Niki but, alas, the best in a given year does not always win.

          Cheers, and hope your holiday season is a great one….sadly, minus F1. 🙂

  61. Enjoy your break – I am already looking forward to reading your blog in 2022, especially with the new rules for 2022.

    The season was terrific with two. First, the half points race in Belgium, in my opinion no points should have been awarded. Second, the ending of the last race. F1 should learn lessons to ensure these things never re-occur – as has been suggested, they should look at how other forms of racing deal with late race incidents so we don’t finish under safety car or with only one racing lap. I work in an industry where lessons learnt is extremely important to enhance future ways of working. It is imperative that F1 learns lessons.

  62. Hi Joe,
    Do you know if anyone has checked Red Bull’s account that Checos engine was about to expire thus causing him to retire (to his own surprise) and your thoughts on the resulting conspiracy theories?
    Thanks for all your hard work & enjoy your festive break.

    1. What do you think about the one Trump is pushing? Apparently, Red Bull paid Latifi ten billion Dollars to crash. The deal would have been brokered by a certain Flavio Briatore…

  63. Abu Dhabi’s result was the best outcome for F1 in 2022.
    Will Lewis triumph over ‘adversity’ and take his 8th title –
    Or will Max ‘dominate’ once again?

    Conclusions are no longer foregone.

    Better still –
    Will one of 2021’s mid-fielders get a better handle on the new rules –
    And put both Mercedes and Red Bull on the back-foot?

  64. I think the best thing to do is a) for Mercedes not to go down the legal route and b) all the teams come together to demand that there is consistency with the way that the rules are implemented. The end of the Abu Dhabi race smacked of WWE “Sports Entertainment” – also can FOM please stop broadcasting the conversations between the teams and race control? I’m sick of listening to Wolff and Horner whining to Masi – they really do come across as a pair of petulant children.

  65. The amount of sour grapes in the comment section is astonishing. If you don’t agree with Masi’s view of what a motorrace is: write an open application letter to the FIA. Let’s see if you do a better job. You have been treated with the best season in at least the last two decades. Maybe you don’t like the end result, well, get over it. Thank you! And thank you Joe, for your views and all your work during this long season!

    1. Mick, well one thing for sure is, I would not have ” arranged the restart” in a way that totally favoured Max who was well beaten for the race. I cannot believe MM did it this way.

    2. It was a great season until suddenly it wasn’t a great season at all. It was a great injustice and a failure of sporting integrity. That is what the 2021 season will be remembered for now. The racing, the performances of Hamilton and Verstappen – all overshadowed now by the result and the race director’s unfortunate part in it,

  66. Joe, I must applaud you for proposing Lewis as the greatest F1 driver this sport has seen, and not hedging your bets as most others do by a noncommittal ‘one of the best’ etc.
    I write this not as a ‘Lewis fanboy’ but as a long time fan of the sport. Since Lewis burst onto the scene in 2007 he has crafted a legacy that will take some beating and I don’t feel he gets the credit that his achievements warrant. For me, his star quality comes from the sheer breadth of his abilities across all of the aspects that separate the good drivers from the greats. Or in this case, the greats from the greatest?

    To name some of these talents – blistering pace, outstanding racecraft, tyre management, metronomic consistency, smart career choices (and making them work), galvanising a team around him, using his voice beyond the sport, wet weather skills, the list is certainly impressive. But for me his greatest trait is his character; his clean conduct on the track and his grace & dignity off it. Sure, there are rivals past and present run him close or even nudge him in individual areas, but as an overall package, he’s got it all. He’s a masterclass in what sets top tier F1 drivers apart, and a role model to aspiring talents. I hope that when the time does come for him to hang up the helmet, he gets the credit that his unsurpassed achievements deserve. I’m just grateful to have witnessed it.

    Thank you Joe for your insights and articles throughout the year and I hope you enjoy a well earned rest!

    1. Great points and I would add that Hamilton is a true racer. Unlike some other drivers with impressive stats, Lewis always raced freely with his team mates, who included Alonso, Button and Rosberg – world champions.

  67. If the rules allowed Masi’s decisions they also allowed other options, and the decision Masi took was unprecedented, which is a problem. If Masi had just applied the rules as they are normally applied then the impression that Masi changed the title outcome by fiat or incompetence would not be as well supported as it now is.

    Even worse that he announced one decision and then completely changed it at the last moment. The first decision meant Hamilton won the title. The second meant Hamilton was very unlikely to win.

    And, worse still, the car and driver performances on the day were such that Hamilton was emphatically the one who deserved the win. Verstappen could not get close even with a lucky VSC that gave him the better tyres.

    Tough job, I know, and Masi had no time to fully consider the ramifications of what he was about to do. He got this horribly wrong, and it was the worst possible time to make such a misjudgement. He shouldn’t be demonised, but it is his job and he did it poorly at the critical moment.

    What happened in Abu Dhabi will, I’m sure, turn a lot of viewers off from F1. After 35 years following F1 I feel I can’t face another eight month season if the end result could be messed up like this – and I have in fact cancelled my F1TV subscription. I wonder if this may be more damaging for the sport than Indianapolis 2005, because it undermined the whole season rather than just one race.

  68. I’m an F1 fan of nearly 20 years. I have never seen anything like the events of Sunday night during that period, where the rules, although they were (allegedly) abided by, were bent so much that they ended up being doubled over completely backwards

    It seems to me that there’s a set of rules, but another clause in the rules that gives the race director the discretion to just override any of the rules as they see fit. Effectively they can say here’s the rules, but I can do what I want and override them as and when I want. Which pretty much makes a mockery of having any rules at all if one single person can just override them, unfettered. Nevertheless, if it is to be the case, the question arises – is that one individual a fit and proper person to apply the rules, or override them?

    It’s one thing to say you just abided by the rules. But the thing is – what does what happened on Sunday look like to the outside world? Yes you can stand there and say it’s correct because the rules say you can do that. But what does that do to the integrity and reputation of the sport in the eyes of not only the people who watch it, of those who participate in it, but also to other people in the sporting world who don’t?

    After trawling various forums, a repeating theme appeared. There were people who were brand new to the sport and this was their first season, wanting to see how this thrilling battle concluded, who were saying “Well if this is how you do things, then I’m not watching this any more as it’s absurd” and have cancelled their subscription. They’re gone, probably lost forever. There were also fans of long standing duration who also said – that’s it, I’m not watching anymore.

    Now I don’t know if this is just righteous indignation and they’ll end up watching again next year anyway. I’m one of the longer standing fans who are questioning whether I really want to follow the sport anymore not only in the light of what happened on Sunday night, but also in light of some of the other decisions we have had this year – and also, some of the driving from a certain individual. I suppose I will, yet there’s an awfully big “BUT” about it. It’s like when you lover cheats on you by having an affair and you forgive them and you accept them back. But after that, there’s something missing – something has gone that was there before. I suppose it’s simply trust. You can’t trust them any more to do the right thing. If the trust is gone, an eventual parting of the ways may ensue.

    So basically, rules or no rules, I no longer feel I can trust the likes of Masi to do the right thing or not. It’s not just this race either – Spa was a debacle, and also confusing penalties in some cases, and bizarre failures to act in others. How Verstappen did not get penalised for that stunt he pulled in Brazil I’ll never know, deliberately going so far off the apex he ended up in a different postcode. And yes, it WAS deliberate. That is NOT racing.

    Yes he’s very fast and all that but to say “I dislike people who suggested that Max would settle the title by driving into Lewis. He too deserves more respect.” – and then he practically tries to do just that on lap one of the race with a manouvre that was just obviously never going to stick and seemed to be deliberately inviting a collision. His driving just recently has been appalling, and it’s gone up another notch further from the default “get out of my way or there’ll be a big accident” attitude. He now seems to have been given carte blanche to just go on doing that. I shudder to think what stunts he will try to pull next year, bearing in mind what he’s being doing this year, but what with the new rules which sets everything back to zero, unless his new car is streets ahead of everyone else, he may find himself in the company of the likes of Alpines, McLarens and Ferraris around him instead of only the Mercs. Try some of the driving he’s been practising this year in the middle of that lot, and there’s either going to be a very nasty pile up, or, others will be emboldened and start doing it back to him – if they feel that they can go unpunished for it. Then there really will be problems.

    I can understand defending the sport in the way you have – but there’s an element of “well you would say that wouldn’t you?” That’s not a criticism – it’s your sport, your passion and also your livliehood – and I also feel you have to maintain the relationships you have within it. But its our sport and our passion too. Without the supporters, the sport is nothing. To many of us out here, regardless of whether the rules have been abided by or not, the whole spectacle has left rather a bad taste in the mouth which is difficult to get rid of.

    1. Very well written and I’m sure the silent majority agree with you. I have been able to get 4 people involved in F1 over the last few years an none of these people know each other. Comments from all. I didn’t realize that F1 was corrupt…..

  69. A much better result last Sunday would have been an immediate red flag. Both cars can change tyres and then a fours lap shoot out both cars on new choice tyres. Going forward why not Close pit Lane under safety car or at least ban tyre changes. Too many races decided by chance of who pits when.

  70. On a side note to the contentious outcome, as the drama built to a crescendo in those final couple of laps I kept thinking “I wish we had Murray Walker commentating”.
    He was the voice I grew up with as a Formula 1 fan from 1987 onwards. I can only imagine the excitement he’d have felt and conveyed in those moments.

  71. Hi Joe,

    Although entirely different circumstances, this is reminding me a bit of 2007 when I recall that Kubica, Heidfeld and Rosberg’s cars presented an irregular fuel sample and to the letter of the law should probably have been thrown out of the title deciding Brazilian Grand Prix, which would have promoted Hamilton to 4th and therefore clinch the title.

    Did this end up going as far as the court of appeal? I remember that we had to wait a good few weeks to finally find out the outcome and that Kimi was declared champion. Am I right in saying that incomplete paper work is what meant McLaren’s (seemingly half-hearted) appeal was not heard?

    Thanks again for another great year of green notebooks! These are so insightful and I look forward to renewing my GP+ subscription in 2022.

  72. Thank you for all your work, and for making the Green Notebook available to all of us. I was calmed and relieve to read this. I usually enjoy it for your thoughts about wherever you are, but this time, I was also very pleased to read your thoughts on the race. Thanks again! Enjoy your beautiful view and rest up!

  73. The current rules look like a continual knee jerk reaction to incidents that have happened, and are no longer coherent as a whole. I’ve seen this elsewhere in sport. Maybe now is the time to scrap everything and start again. Starting with, “This is what is allowed…”. If it’s not allowed it’s not allowed. No grey areas.

    1. You would be surprised at just how many of the rulebooks, across all manner of industries, are little more than a “continual kneejerk reaction to incidents that have happened”!

  74. Welp. After 40-odd years, that’s the last time I watch F1. Might as well watch wrestling if that’s how the result’s gonna be decided – right now it has more sporting integrity than F1 does.

    Sure Masi had a tough job. Blatantly rigging the result in favour of a driver who’s spent the entire year cheating and getting away with it, having been comprehensively outclassed on track, is not part of that job.

  75. Robert Schwartzman was testing for Haas in Abu Dhabi, is there any chance he could actually take over from Nikita Mazepin? I know Nikita is the son of Dimitry who owns UralChem and UralKali, but Robert Schwartzman is also a Russian, he seems to be a better prospect and he is from St Petersburg where the Russian GP will be held soon. If Dimitry was honest with himself, then he would know Nikita was a bit of an embarrassment this past year. In the end, the last thing any father would want is for his son to hurt himself doing something he is not really very good at.

    Joe, you did not elaborate on BWT-Alpine, could you tell us more? Obviously it suggests BWT moving its sponsorship from Aston Martin to Alpine, but what was the reason behind it?

  76. Masi did have a problem starting and finishing a 2 lap *race* behind the safety car earlier in the season.

    Ross Brawn has been sticking his nose into the discussions between Masi and teams. If Liberty hadn’t suddenly decided to broadcast those discussions, we wouldn’t know the content of them. I believe we are being played by Liberty, all for the sake of the show and a few more viewers attracted by NetFlix.

    There has been a lot of hot air on social media about the race and the vast majority has been negative. Comparing F1 with WWE is likely to haunt the sport for some time. It’s out of the box and will be bought up every single time someone is unhappy about F1. Those who don’t know how a business can be ruined overnight by stupidity need only look up Gerald Ratner.

    If the FIA is enlarging their technical dept with the huge Brawn staff from FOM, who is going to pay for it? Not so long ago, the FIA was claiming poverty and increased the driver’s licence fee. Are they going to try that one again?

  77. “It wasn’t fair perhaps, but it was within the rules. ”

    Joe…it really wasn’t. The rules are that ANY car a lap down WILL unlap itself. That did not happen. That gave Verstappen the advantage that Sainz was not attacking him. Also, that the safety car will pull in the lap AFTER that happens. And that did not happen either, it pulled in the same lap.

    1. 100% – and such manipulation of rules is either gross incompetence, or outright cheating.

      FIA should not be accepting either explanation instead they have rhe temerity to suggest thst we don’t understand the written rules.

      Pathetic cover up from an organisation that allowed Ferrari to cheat re the engines and also allowed no explanation of that either.

      FIA secrecy allows conspiracy theories to flourish and trust evaporates. And then all results are called into question not just some.

      That’s the best way to drive away fans and sponsors….

      FIA needs urgent reform.

      1. The way the rules are structured means that the Race Director can basically override any aspect of the Safety Car protocol if he sees fit to. If I’m auditing regs in a professional capacity, it’s the kind of ‘get out’ that has me (facetiously) pointing out that they may as well just do away with the actual rules and leave the whole thing at the individual’s discretion. I’m certain that Mercedes could’ve taken it to the CAS and won, had they been bloodyminded enough.

  78. Other than for safety calls, I cannot remember any such instance of a race director influencing the result of a race by breaking with precedents before the facts have happened, as opposed to after (for example a racing incident where they must hand down a punishment).

    It seems to me that if Safety cars and VSF are deployed any time a car is stopped anywhere on the track side of the armco, and that the onus is now firmly placed on keeping the show as entertaining as possible, F1 needs to further standardize and automate the procedure during SF and VSF.

    Joe, all the points you make are valid, but from now on put yourself in my shoes, as an armchair enthusiast who is away from any inside knowledge: If Verstappen is running away in the championship next year, 30 secs ahead of Hamilton, and there is stopped car on track. How can I trust the decision by the race director to send safety car out only after Verstappen has passed the pits – handing Hamilton a free pitstop – to be fair, down to luck, and not to improve the show?

  79. Good referees have one trait in common Joe. They are consistent in their decision making and application of the rules. Massi has demonstrated he does not have this trait with gross inconsistent decision making since day one. This is what we as fans have a problem with and why Massi must go.

  80. What happened has been and gone, I really hope the result doesnt get overturned by a court after the event.. Looking forward I think there should be some overarching principles that guide the decision making. These should be as simple as possible.

    My thoughts are;

    1-Safety of track workers and spectators
    2-Safety of drivers
    3-Try to maintain the status quo of the race. Minimise the influence of the event on the result.
    4-Try to maintain the duration and timing of the race
    5- Try to finish under green

    For me finishing under caution, VSC or behind the safety car is preferable to a result skewed by decision making. Random failures, punctures etc are just part of the sport, ask Mansell. But the “management of the race by officials” of the race should have the minimum impact on the result in my opinion. I’m not in favour of the US style “yellow to close up the field” race management.

    Probably much easier to say than do.

    What the 2021 season has highlighted to me is quite how good Hamilton and Verstappen are. Whatever the outcome we witnessed an amazing season with two amazing, but very different, drivers.

    Time for break and then to look forward to 2022 testing.

    Have a great Christmas all.

    Thanks

    Martin

  81. Hi, Joe thanks for your analysis, as always a great beacon for rethinking and getting a clear view on the topic.
    I would agree that we need to leave it even though it is hard but from the perspective of objective reality we can do nothing to change it – it is as it is.
    In fact, in several years (or maybe even next year if Max will win again) it will be forgotten…

    But one thing does not go out of my head – Dan Ricciardo jokingly said that they were in front of him as he stayed in his position and that he was thinking to pass them…in the end, maybe that shouldn’t be a joke. If we really want a Show why lapped guys are always so calm, in the end, there is a difference did you finish +1 lap or not. I remember when Irvine pass several times Senna in Japan 93 of course circumstances are completely different but in the end, everybody racing on this track so why not allow them to dilute the fight in case they are not lapped.

  82. Just thinking about this whole saga, I personally forgot about Sainz. As a question to Joe and everyone else, what do you think would have happened if Ferrari would have protested the race result on the reason that Masi disadvantaged Carlos with his decision in leaving 2 cars between him and Max?
    Would any of the articles stated in the Mercedes protest apply to Ferrari’s protest?
    Thanks

  83. Hi Joe,

    Thanks for all your notebooks this year, I always look forward to them.

    I agree with your thoughts about the race. It was a real blow to see Hamilton lose like that but I think Masi was trying his best in a difficult situation. In hindsight, a red flag would probably have been better and given Liberty an even more exciting last lap.

    RE: Monaco – I’m sure I heard years ago that they were looking at extending the track (maybe before the tunnel) to create an area where there could be overtaking. Am I imagining things or was that once considered?

    Thanks again for all your work this season. Bring on 2022!

    Michael

  84. The World Endurance Championship is going to be fantastic from 2023 with Porsche, Ferrari, Audi, Peugeot, Toyota, Honda, General Motors (Cadillac), Alpine and Glickenhaus all entered in the top hybrid Hypercar class. When have we ever seen a line-up like that in any premier motorsport prototype series?

    The 6hr and 24hr race format is not TV-friendly, so that’s another big plus. The WEC app and live broadcast with timings, in-car feeds, and running highlights is top class. Commentary is superb – informed and passionate. Le Mans has always been the greatest single event in motorsport. Officiating and administration in WEC is second to none. Hamilton should think seriously about it, and if he moved I am sure Alonso would follow.

    F1 can continue to be a Netflix docu-drama series, but actual motorsport is thriving. There is something good out there for everyone.

  85. 4-days on and Sunday’s result still hurts me as a fan of F1.

    I agree with Joe that both Max and Lewis would have been worthy winners, so the actual outcome is OK, but as a sporting disaster this was a masterclass of how not to organise a sport.

    F1 needs a person controlling track safety, but does it need a committee of Stewards and a heavy and often ambiguous rulebook? I don’t think so.

    It needs a single race umpire who is looking at the big picture and able to make quick decisions to ensure fair play and that no team, or driver is gaining an unfair advantage.

    Doing what the leader doesn’t clearly creates an unfair advantage, especially within the last 10-laps of the race, so that scenario needs a reset by a red-flag, its good for the fans and fair for the teams.

    Similarly giving back the advantage when a driver runs wide off circuit goes to the umpire with Lap-1 being judged more leniently than a last-lap.

  86. Superb article Joe.

    I think most sensible heads contend a red flag would have been a fair(er) and more effective way to ensure a green finish. It’s also a far more obvious choice than the one Masi opted for. The former with multiple precedents, the latter with none. It had me wondering if perhaps Masi was simply unaware at the time of his decision to the degree of the different tyre strategies (after all, as RD, there’s usually no need to be considerate of each teams tyre strategy).

    I would bet in hindsight Masi would agree a red flag would be better to achieve a fair and entertaining last few laps. The accident may not have warranted a red, and perhaps some of the teams would have whinged. But it’s plainly obvious the way he chose to interpret the rules at such a critical time, has sadly discredited MV’s win and championship.

  87. Hi Joe, I think it’s time to bring back Bernie. This mess never would have happened on his watch. On a serious note I’ve been watching F1 since 1998 and this season and in particular Max Verstappen have turned me off the sport completely. His move on Lewis at Monza and his disgraceful driving in Saudi were the low points of a toxic season. What happened on Sunday has left me doubting if I will ever watch a Grand Prix again. Anyway enjoy your break Joe. Hopefully the FIA’s investigation of themselves will be very thorough and restore my faith in the sport.

  88. I have been waiting to read your take on all of this, Joe, and you did not disappoint. Thank you for helping to frame things with a large dose of reality and perspective. I worry Masi will be made the scapegoat for this. I think that would be grossly unfair.

  89. Had a feeling something like this might happen, so haven’t watched the race yet. What I did find interesting is everyone was praising Lewis for being a good sport and if I put on my tin foil hat, it feels like the FIA wanted to release that radio message where he was ranting about the sport being unfair and what not to damage his reputation some.

    Very interesting news with Ferrari and Amazon, one wonders if there might not be some backlash from the workers about that, especially after the handling of the tornado, is it a great look for a company that has been over working employees and paying them poorly to be hooking up with a brand like Ferrari. Fair enough Bezos is playing rocket man, but that seems to be more about him than Amazon.

    Anywho, cheers for the insights this year, been most fun as always to read what you write and I hope you have caught up with some sleep.

    Cheers.

  90. I have an enormous amount of time and respect for Joe’s opinions and insights but I do feel he has either failed to adequately explain his position in such a way that we understand why he holds it, or he’s just in disagreement with those of us that are railing against the result on a simple sporting principle.
    The rules for better or worse, are there to set the boundaries of behaviour of the competitors and to let them know how situtations will be handled when they occur.
    The safety car procedure was not followed as written and in consequence it fundamentally changed not only the result of the individual race, but also the entire championship. It’s as simple as that.
    Despite all that I’ve read here and elsewhere, I still feel that fair play has been steam-rollered for the sake of a spectactular TV finish and I’m saying that as someone who is not a particular fan of either Max or Lewis.

  91. Andrew 70, Joe wrote the piece to inform us. I am amazed at some of the comments people make.
    If we were a journalist and having attended more grand prix, than the cumulative of all those who have commented above have, then its likely Joe’s point is well made.
    I think Mercedes have every right to feel aggrieved and so does Lewis Hamilton, and I tend to favour Max, but when Lewis reflects he will understand that it was a similar piece of luck that garnered his first title with Ron Dennis, Felipe can attest to that.

    1. I understand Joe’s motivation for his posts and am grateful for the time he takes to share them with us.
      The point I was trying to make is that despite reading everything written, I still don’t understand how some can fail to be indignant with what happened, or more precisely, the circumstances that precipitated the finish we got.
      I also don’t understand the comparisons with Lewis’ first championship title. I can only comment from memory as I haven’t watched the race since it was broadcast, but didn’t Massa lose the title because Lewis passed a driver on track to secure the minimum finishing position he needed to clinch the title? Was Massa unlucky? – without doubt, but it wasn’t because of a decision to apply a rule in a way never previously seen that handed an unsurmoutable advantage to the other title protagonist. That’s not luck, that interference.
      I see that you responded to my original post but that it’s not here now. I hope it didn’t get removed for a breach of Joe’s acceptable conduct to contribute as I wouldn’t have intentionally done so.

  92. So what happens next time in the same situation as the last lap? How can any team formulate a strategy when the rules are being decided on an ad-hoc basis by the race director. Will the race director continue to interpret rules on the spot that directly contradict their previous decisions? If so, it’s not a sport any more.

  93. Joe: After six days of vitriolic – sometimes bordering on unhinged – comments, posts and reports across various publications and “social” media, your considered analysis is great to read and I thank you for it. Whilst feeling slightly sorry for Lewis, that last lap was one of the most exhilarating I’ve witnessed in 35 years of spectating and I don’t think I’ve screamed at my TV like that since the 2002 Indy 500!

    I feel desperately sorry for Michael Masi who clearly tried to give what most of those watching wanted to see. Playing devil’s advocate for a moment: I wondered if Masi realised the tyre discrepancy between Hamilton and Verstappen? I would presume that – with a crashed car, marshals on track, a crane manoeuvring and a safety car deployed – the Race Director would not have had time to pay attention to who had pitted and who had not. Is it possible he might have thought that he was letting the two Contenders fight out that final lap on the hard, worn tyres they’d both been running just before the safety car was deployed? Not that it should have affected his decision, mind you, but perhaps you might get a chance to ask him if the poor man ever decides to face the media again…

    1. This is precisely what I think happened too. In his anticipation to create a green finish without the use of the red flag, Masi interpreted the rules in a novel way, but neglected to consider the potential tyre discrepancy. Not that the SD needs to necessarily be considerate of tyre strategies, but in this case it would have paid to do so.

      Would welcome Joe’s thoughts on this theory.

      1. Masi did what he could do with the time available. Safety Cars are inherently unfair if you are in front and great if you are behind. Some days you win, some days you lose. Drivers know this and accept it.

        1. That’s true but there are established, published, rules and processes around the safety car and what happens when a Safety car period ends that have been followed for the last 28 years. Mercedes decided their strategy according to those rules. Then Masi chucked those rules out the window and made new ones up. All he had to do was follow his own rules and all this controversy would have been avoided.

          1. The problem in Abu Dhabi was not Masi. It is the Safety Car rules. We all know that these can be unfair but this was an extreme and graphic illustration of that reality. Masi did only what was sensible, to say otherwise is to over-dramatise the decisions. Merc was screwed by the rules – pure and simple.

    2. I suspect Masi did not realise the full scale of the mismatch he was creating. Having to field continual complaints from the teams over the radio can’t have helped him find the headspace to work it all through, either. I think the FIA need to question the value of teams being able to contact the Race Director willy-nilly after this. This season it’s frequently felt like footballers arguing with the referee and has been similarly constructive.

  94. Good read that Joe. Regarding that last race, rules can be designed and arranged to cover 99.99% of any possibility or contingency. Be sure that the 0.01% always lurks to strike anytime. As it did on Sunday.

    Sorry for Lewis, not really. He has had a charmed and very lucky time throughout his career in the sport which looks like continuing next season. That phenomenal good fortune took a brief dip last weekend. My bets on him to secure his eighth likewise … The Racing Gods played another blinder as sometimes they often do. Here’s to next season.

  95. Well Iv’e taken a few days thinking that the bad feeling about the end to this race would subside.
    It hasn’t….my trust in the powers that run F1 has been irretrievably damaged.
    I am quite shocked by the collective shrug of the shoulders that seems to emanate from all the various pundits and experts. Sure there is a lot of sympathy for Lewis and no one begrudges Max his first title including me.
    But they all seem to be missing the point. How was Carlos excluded from having a legitimate go at Verstappen & Lewis for the win, not to mention that Max didn’t have to worry about looking in his mirrors on the restart. Yes it would have ended under the safety car but that is the established procedure if it happens to pan out that way.
    The only conclusion is that the Race Director didn’t want it to end like that for the good of the show.
    As it turns out it’s his prerogative and he improvised within the rules. Thats show business not racing.
    In future I suggest Mercedes strategist’s might want to employ a clairvoyant just in case.

      1. Would Charlie not have redflagged the race and give the 2 title contenders an equal footing by letting change for fresh tyres?

    1. It’s important to remember that Charlie didn’t always get it right either, but (unsurprisingly) he was much more secure in and assertive of his authority. He would’ve told the teams to keep their opinions to themselves for sure. My gut feeling is that he would’ve kept all the lapped cars in and left it up to Max to clear them, which he might well have been able to do if they were even a little cooperative. I suspect the specific drivers involved would’ve known better than to put their own battles in the way of the title fight, under the circumstances.

  96. Should have been red flagged, obvious decision, really and easily defendable. Not a fan of grid restart after a red flag as that is a contrived way for someone to pass. It’s already a disadvantage for the car ahead for a rolling start (loss of the gap they had gained).

    The end result was obvious as soon as Max pitted should the race get underway with no cars in between him and Hamilton. Just as predictable as a safety car end.

    As a racing fan, that was not racing at the end. Masi made a poor decision and the end result – obvious.

    He had the option to move from SC to Red flag with rolling start well in advance of Lap 58. But humans are humans and he did what he thought was best under extreme pressure while being empowered to do so.

    Hamilton/MB earned the championship but it didn’t happen. Heard of petitions going around to proclaim co-champions, utter tosh!

    Congrats Max, lady luck was smiling on you, such is the way in life and sport.

    Can’t wait to see the new cars and racing…2022 can’t come fast enough!

    Thank you Joe for all that you do. Best for the holidays.

  97. Joe, the art of your narrative writing ranks with the best not just in F1, but anywhere. Thanks for the notebooks. You are quite an observer. Happy Christmas!

    1. Abbe Faria,
      I thoroughly agree, Joe is a very good wordsmith. And, his journalism is excellent with the rare ingredient of ‘integrity’. At times like this his experience clearly shows through.
      Perhaps you would enjoy his books. I thoroughly recommend his “Man who caught Crippen” and “Grand Prix Saboteurs”. On occasion you’ll find yourself in the scene feeling the weather, mood, etc. A bit of Mitchener.
      regards, build.

  98. I’m late to the party here – just catching up on your blogs, but crikey Joe, the cars outside of the title fight were irrelevant?? F1 has never been a 2 car championship. The way it unfolded on the last lap meant there could have only been 2 outcomes (pending a collision…):

    Lewis 1st, Max 2nd
    or
    Max 1st, Lewis 2nd

    Max had literally no threat from behind on that last lap. I know you know the quickest lines on a race track are not necessarily the safest or most defensive, and I know you know a driver takes a different line if they need to defend…

    I’m tired of hearing that Masi acted within the rules, the same thing was said of the MP expenses scandals in the UK a few years ago. It may be within the rules but it certainly isn’t right – the FIA agree with this to the point that they’re reviewing how the hell this was allowed to happen. A lot of people are very disillusioned with the sport right now. I love that you always argue for the sport and always want to promote it in the most positive way, but call this out for what it is.

    Liberty are walking a very fine line between attracting new fans and disenfranchising the old.

    1. In the overall scheme of things, yes they were irrelevant. If they were quicker they would not have been. MM had to sort a problem quickly, and he did.

      1. Irrelevant? They’re at the centre of the issue.

        MM caused more problems than he solved. I’m not suggesting he’s replaced but it needs to be called out for the shitshow it was. I appreciate there’s too much at stake commercially for this to happen.

    2. Joe, I think everyone who follows your blog holds your opinions and experience in the highest regard. However, you seem to have missed the point on this issue. More importantly, so have the FIA.

      I’ll sum it up with a quote from Trevor Noah, the host of the daily show: “for a few minutes the ref only lets the losing team score.” Trevor Noah is not a sports commentator, let alone a motor sports journalist, but he found time to mock F1 for that race. F1 needs to attract new, young fans to replace the old dying audience. Being mocked by Trevor Noah for a debacle like that is not the way to attract new fans. It was a disgrace to the sport.

      1. We all have our opinions. I follow the rules of F1 when they are applied in a sensible fashion. It was a difficult situation. It was an unsatisfactory result but the point is that the rules were applied in a sensible fashion. As I have written several times I don’t like the Safety Car rules – but what is a better choice? It’s easy to say this is wrong and that is wrong, it’s more difficult to come up with solutions that work in all scenarios.

      2. G’day markdatz,
        i looked up Trevor, he’s a small time comedian in Sooth Afrika, he has almost as many viewers as my little mate Riley who you’ve never heard of either. And as you say and I quote: “Trevor Noah is not a sports commentator, let alone a motor sports journalist, but he found time to mock F1 for that race.”

        That is what Comedians do, they mock, they don’t do “informed comment”.
        cheers, build.

        1. Trevor Noah hosts The Daily Show, he replaced Jon Stewart. He’s not small time, he has a very large audience around the world. The show does humorous commentary, it’s generally quite well informed on political issues. The point here is that Masi’s decision appears utterly baffling to the people that F1 needs to attract in order to grow. Normal people don’t want to hear legal arguments over whether “any cars” means “all cars”, they just don’t want to see nonsense like that title decider.

      3. No one is saying Masi broke any rules, if they now anything about the sport. He had to make a decision and based on the accident he had an option where unintended consequences could have come into play or the safe option. He chose the first and then rracted and reacted and reached to the unintended consequence as a result of the short time left to make the track safe to race. This is where I believe he had a safe option, both from safety and the integrity of the race, because Tin Can were simply not at the races that day. Based on the spread of debris from Latiffi, a red flag was an option for the safety of the whole field. We would have had a 5 or 6 lap race where the entire field was in the right place and all onto optimal set up in terms of available tyres and under no real time constraints to clean the circuit and repair the barrier. If Verstappen beat Hamilton, people would still have said it was unfair, but then the argument that a World Championship is over a season would hold true. If Hamilton won, he deserved the race based on the race to then and the same would have been true of the championship. But Masi did not make that decision and all the flack he has rightly taken is because he took the decision he could not control because he was always time limited to have have the ideal result of finishing the race under green.

        Joe will not agree but these are the only 2 options that were available and how it player out, Masi made the wrong split second decision and then even after Tin Can secured advantage by being second he did not chany his mind and give everyone the equal opportunity which he could have done.

  99. Tired of hearing Masi acted within the rules. For those that need to hear this, “overriding authority” is the authority to implement the rules and override decisions made by lower ranking officials. It does not mean carte blanche to amend existing rules or procedures – among other issues there are very serious safety implications with this and it’s ludicrous to suggest the race director should have this authority.

    1. You don’t see a safety issue with a restart consisting of 5 lapped cars in between 1st and 2nd who are fighting each other for position while simultaneously being given an immediate blue flag? They had to be cleared out.

    2. I’m tired of hearing lots of things, sadly those that are true and valid we have to hear and accept.

      It’s the way he overrode the rules that is the problem, not the fact he did because he could.

  100. * The teams wanted the GP to end on green flag racing.
    * The rule stating the safety car comes in one lap after lapped cars overtake exists to prevent the leaders from catching the lapped cars on the restart.
    * The rules allow the race director the authority to override the regulations in regards to the safety car.
    * Max and Lewis didn’t catch the lapped cars on the restart.
    * We got green flag racing at the end.

    What’s the problem?

    Your sensible take has gained you a GP+ subscriber in me. Thank you for your insight throughout the year.

  101. Yes I absolutely agree with this, but the point you’re making applies to the entire field which is why I make the point about on-the-fly amendments to procedures having serious safety implications.

    I guess as the rest of the field was “irrelevant” I guess there’s no safety concerns here?

  102. Bonjour Dear Joe, thank you for a fine report and your balanced view. Now the “race”, …witnessing the avalanche of blaming Masi posts by ‘mainly’ Hamilton fans, I do understand that after years of winning it is difficult for them to experience defeat.. The so called “culprit” or ’cause’ of this defeat is the gallowed to the highest tree “Masi”. Dear oh dear how wrong they are in mixing right and wrong in their agony. There is no culprit, there is no guilty race director. PLEASE forget FAIR or UNFAIR there is not such a thing in Formula 1. Was the “Werner von Braun” engine in Brazil ‘fair’? YES indeed, Lewis should have won the race in Abu Dhabi, But then still Max should have won the Championship. Sadly we could not have both. ..Rest me to wish you another unforgettable year. Kindly yours, Jerome a Max fan (obviously)

  103. F1 2021 – The Year of ‘The Gift’!!
    No matter how it is ‘spun’ by VER fans (and HAM haters, come to that), RBR, Max or Jos – and despite the fact that the record books will just show the WDC winner’s name, for many F1 fans there will always be an asterisk against that name.
    Did VER ‘deserve’ the title? Possibly, he’d driven well – if a little ‘over-exuberantly’ at times – and had his fair share of luck, both good and bad, over the season. RBR had been given a major aero boost in the off-season via the change to the rules regarding the rear of the floor which clearly gave an advantage to the high-rake cars; but on the flip side he was unlucky in Baku and also in Hungary.
    Did HAM ‘deserve’ the title? Possibly, he’d also driven well – even if we saw a few more mistakes that we’re used to – and also had his fair share of both sides of the luck coin.
    So it really comes down to the final race, doesn’t it?
    HAM and Merc did everything (or thought they had done) they needed to win the race and thus the title; BUT when the Race Director seemingly ignores not only his initial statement about lapped cars not being allowed to unlap themselves but also his own precedents regarding Safety Cars, lapped cars and the procedure prior to re-starts, is it any wonder that the ‘Netflix-is-to-blame’ and ‘F1 is now Sports Entertainment’ conspiracy theorists came out in abundance?
    Personally, I think Michael Masi should have had the good grace and manners to make a statement in the days following the race; either clearly stating the reasons for his (to most fans) baffling decisions or to apologise, hold his hands up and admit he got it wrong.
    One final point and it has nothing to do with who was right or wrong – I have to say that I think HAM showed far more class and composure in defeat than either Christian Horner or Helmut Marko did in victory!!

    Anyway, thanks Joe for another fantastic year of reporting and education – here’s to 2022 and the next generation of Hybrid Turbo cars – hopefully leading to good, hard (but fair) and clos(er) racing.

    1. Michael does not have the right to do such things. He is employed by the FIA. It would make such decisions. He explained his actions to the stewards. They understood and accepted them.

      1. Thanks for the reply, Joe.
        Surely though the FIA (if it wished) could sanction such a statement, couldn’t it – and in the light of the controversy do you not think it would have been a smart move?
        As for the stewards understanding and accepting his actions, I’m sure – that given the recent history of stewarding – you’ll understand why that doesn’t fill me (and I’m sure a lot of others) with much confidence!

    2. Sadly I think you’re right that this season will end up being one of those with a little asterisk next to it in a lot of minds, like 1989 and 1994 which people are still passionately arguing over today. I’ve always felt that in 89, Senna was predominantly at fault for the collision but his subsequent disqualification was unjustifiable. I think most people would’ve given Michael the benefit of the doubt in 94 if not for what he did in 97. I still think he was probably trying to make Damon go the long way round rather than actively trying to hit him, and Damon should perhaps have been more circumspect. 2021, I think the best man won but probably shouldn’t have.

  104. It’s a month on, a new year, and I still feel sad and somewhat dissolution with F1 after the events of the last race in Abu Dhabi 2021.

    For me, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2021 represented the 662 F1 race I watched live on television and it was exciting until the last five laps. Then stewarding/FIA got involved and things seemed to unravel and it felt like they lost control or got more likely got blinkered and in the end, they ultimately decided the 22 race F1 title.

    To us outside viewers (well at least me) it felt things were “altered.”

    Before there could only be one winner, Lewis and after there could only be one winner, Max. It reminded me a bit of Indycar 15 years ago where it was alleged and it often felt to us watching viewers, yellow flags were thrown to bunch the field just to suit us, the TV viewers. It was meant to give us better and exciting racing but it always felt false.

    I do hope Lewis Halmton carries on, I do respect Max Verstappen and while he may deserve the title of F1 World Champion, his first will always be tarnished (at no fault of his own) by the way it was ultimately gained.

    I can only hope that things change within the FIA and quickly. If it had been me in charge Michael Massi would already be on gardening leave. I not saying he cannot return, I am saying, he should only return with major changes and clearly defined rules on what he can do and let’s make it consistent, as what can happen during an F1 Grand Prix weekend. Not the muddle that was often served up too often in 2021 as it is not good enough for “professional” sport.

    I also feel that the FIA should publicly apologise and even offer Lewis Hamilton an honorary title for 2021 and let Max and Lewis share the crown. Yes, I know this is all VERY unlikely to happen but I wanted to share with you Joe what it feels like for one long-standing F1 fan who is looking in from the outside. It’s a month on, and I am sure I am not alone in my feelings.

    So let’s hope for the best for 2022 but until then, I am another who feels an Asterix will always stand next to the 2021 F1 World Champion name and I am sorry I feel like that but I do…..The way the F1 stewarding is done needs to change.

    I just hope someone in authority is listening!

    1. The FIA cannot apologize or dismiss Masi because that would be a tacit admission of fault, which would imply that Max is not a legitimate champion. The FIA cannot do that.

  105. In my view Joe Saward’s credibility has even grown to an unmeasurable volume. I am very happy that Joe refuses to swim with the popular waves in Brittain. Living in France is obviously very good for ones mental health. Carry on Joe, on continental Europe you are highly appreciated.

    1. Exactly, not being U.K. based gives such a different perspective. Now, if only the FIA moved their headquarters to France maybe they would stop being so English-centric and drop all this inquiry nonsense over the Abu Dhabi race.

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