Formula 1: What does the FIA’s Abu Dhabi review need to deliver? Sky F1 pundits on what’s next for the sport
Formula 1’s governing body continue to review the events of the Abu Dhabi GP, and the Sky Sports F1 pundits have had their say on how important it is, what it needs to achieve and how the sport can make progress going forward.
The FIA provided details last week of the timeframe for its inquiry into what happened in December’s season-ending round, with analysis to be presented to the F1 Commission – which includes the teams and F1 itself – in early February before entering the rubber-stamping process of the World Motor Sport Council on March 18.
Speaking on a special edition of The F1 Show, the Sky F1 team outlined what actions the sport needs to take to restore faith in the decision-making after heavy fan criticism and driver confusion about the way the title decider panned out under the Safety Car.
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“We’ve just got to get it right,” said Sky F1’s Damon Hill. “We can’t have races where people just laugh at us.
“I’m afraid, sadly, Abu Dhabi was one of those.”
Martin Brundle says “mistakes were made on the night” and that, while he does not believe they were influenced by malice, they cannot happen again.
“What’s really important here for the FIA and for Formula 1 is that this is not swept under the carpet and just left for a few weeks and then overtaken by the new 2022 cars, and the tests, and what have you,” he said.
“We need to understand what happened and why it won’t happen again.
“We need to reassure the fans that what they are seeing is for real, genuine, and that they are giving up their free time to watch something that is a genuine competition.”
Ted Kravitz said it was particularly important to understand what happened in the four minutes between Race Control’s message that lapped cars would not be allowed to overtake the Safety Car and the message that said the five between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen could.
“What happened in that crucial four minutes?” he asked. “That’s what the FIA needs to absolutely be totally crystal clear about and show the fans that they have explained what happened.
“Why did Masi change his mind? Did he have his mind changed for him? They have to be totally clear because it is the credibility of the sport that the fans are talking about.”
While the outcome of the FIA’s investigation will not change any aspect of last season’s championship, with Verstappen crowed world champion after an impressive campaign amid widespread congratulations for the maiden achievement from sides including Mercedes, Kravitz says the events of Abu Dhabi will still go down in significant history.
“We all remember what happened in ’89 and ’90 with Senna and Prost, and we all remember what happened with Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher in 1994,” said Kravitz of infamous title-deciding collisions.
“On the balance of it, Max Verstappen ended up with more wins and more points and you’ve got to say he deserves the championship.
“But we’ll always remember 2021 with this very, very unsatisfactory ending.
“In the past we’ve had teams on one side going against teams on the other. It’s not in this case, it’s the team, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes, against the governing body of the sport and that’s where the fans feel that what happened in Abu Dhabi was so wrong, and where Mercedes maybe feel so wronged and where F1 has got a problem with sorting out its integrity and its confidence that people have in the sport.”
He added: “This commission for the FIA needs to put it clear that ‘look, there was no conspiracy here’ and it was just misinterpretation, a misdirecting, of their own rules, if that’s what they find.”