F1’s governing body the FIA published its full report into the contentious events of the Abu Dhabi finale that overshadowed the 2021 title fight following the latest meeting of the World Motor Sport Council on Saturday, ahead of this weekend’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix. 

The FIA admitted that former race director Michael Masi had made mistakes in the handling of the late Safety Car period and final lap restart that altered the outcome of the world championship but said he acted in “good faith”. 


Masi was removed from his role after his failure to properly apply the Safety Car regulations in two instances enabled Red Bull’s Verstappen to overtake Mercedes' Hamilton on the final lap to seal his maiden world title in dramatic and highly controversial circumstances. 

The FIA’s report also made it clear that the results from the final race of the 2021 season are “valid, final and cannot now be changed”. 

It has also been confirmed that software has been developed that, starting from the 2022 F1 season, will be used to automate the communication of the list of cars that must unlap themseves.

The following key points were determined: 

- The safety car procedure was a central topic of discussion during the detailed analysis and clarification exercise, stemming from the application of this procedure at the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP, pursuant to Articles 48.12 and 48.13 of the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations. 

- The Race Director called the safety car back into the pit lane without it having completed an additional lap as required by the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations (Article 48.12).

- It was apparent from the analysis that there could be different interpretations of Article 48.12 and Article 48.13 of the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations, and that this likely contributed to the applied procedure.

- It was also considered that the decisions regarding the Safety Car at the end of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix likely took into account previous discussions that made clear the Formula 1 Stakeholders (FIA, Formula 1, Teams and Drivers) preference to end races under green flag racing conditions, rather than behind a safety car, when safe to do so.

- In combination with the objective to finish under green flag racing conditions applied throughout the 2021 season, the report finds that the Race Director was acting in good faith and to the best of his knowledge given the difficult circumstances, particularly acknowledging the significant time constraints for decisions to be made and the immense pressure being applied by the teams. 

- The results of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the FIA Formula One World Championship are valid, final and cannot now be changed. In accordance with the rules, Mercedes made a protest to the stewards after the race, seeking to change the race classification. The stewards dismissed the protest and Mercedes then had an opportunity to appeal that decision to the FIA International Court of Appeal, but did not do so. There are no other available mechanisms in the rules for amending the race classification.

- The process of identifying lapped cars has up until now been a manual one and human error lead to the fact that not all cars were allowed to un-lap themselves. Due to the fact that manual interventions generally carry a higher risk of human error, software has been developed that will, from now on, automate the communication of the list of cars that must un-lap themselves. In addition, the 2022 Formula 1 Sporting Regulations have been recently updated to clarify that “all” and not “any” cars must be permitted to un-lap themselves.

- This process of identifying lapped cars has been reviewed as part of the recommendations previously announced by the FIA President in his statement of 17 February 2022, which also includes the creation of FIA Remote Operations Centre, the integration of a new and extended team to run trackside operations as well as a review of the interactions between teams and Race Control during track running.

The 'executive summary' of the FIA's report can be read in full here.