If the racing procedures had been fully followed to conclude the 2021 Formula 1 season in Abu Dhabi, would the result have been the same?
The final round of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to conclude the 2021 Formula 1 season – and crown the 2021 world champion – will be remembered for a multitude of reasons, and a number of those reasons are linked to the controversy that led to this. last round shootout.
When Williams’ Nicholas Latifi crashed with less than six laps to go and the safety car was deployed, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen entered the pits for new softer tires.
In second place and around 11 seconds behind then Mercedes race leader Lewis Hamilton, Verstappen had nothing to lose.
But Hamilton’s team opted to keep him on old hard tires so he wouldn’t give up his position on the track, which would understandably be huge if the race didn’t resume.
However, he restarted with a lap to go, and it was Hamilton who led Verstappen to the line after the five cars in between were allowed to come undone.
Verstappen passed Hamilton in the fifth corner of the 3.281 mile (5.280 kilometer) Yas Marina Circuit on lap 58 of 58, and he weathered two challenges from Hamilton for the remainder of the lap to win his first world championship, refusing Hamilton which would have been an eighth record.
Due to the way the restart went and to ensure that the race did not end under the safety car, only these five drivers were allowed to go ahead before the safety car did not return later in the round, many argued that the result were nullified.
Hamilton and Mercedes team manager Toto Wolff even boycotted the FIA awards gala in Paris, France, a gala Hamilton was required to attend because he finished in the top three in the drivers’ standings. .
Hamilton still hasn’t spoken to the public since the end of the race.
However, if all normal procedures had been followed – not just the one everyone is talking about – during the Safety Car period, would the outcome always have been the same?
In his recent article titled “Karun Chandhok’s 10 best Formula 1 drivers of the 2021 season: who made the cup after an epic year? “Sky Sports Formula 1 expert Karun Chandhok included a relevant sentence about the whole situation when discussing Hamilton and his No.2 ranking.
Amidst all the noise from the past week, it’s worth remembering that, ironically, had Michael Masi followed all normal procedures and asked all overtaken cars to pass by the end of lap 56, Max would have passed Lewis on last round anyway.
Many have spent the last week and a half claiming that if race director Michael Masi had understood correctly, Hamilton would have won. However, did he really well done, from start to finish, the same result would have been observed.
A few key details, when you delve deeper into Chandhok’s statement, show just how precise it is – and how uncontroversial this end-of-race was, when you remove all the emotion and posture that followed.
Besides Hamilton, there were two multiple world champions competing in the race: quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel of Aston Martin and double world champion Fernando Alonso of Alpine.
The two asked over their team’s radios why they hadn’t been allowed to take their shoes off much earlier. Alonso even laughed at the fact that Verstappen was still two cars behind him, noting that there should have been two cars in front of him – as would be the case in a completely normal safety car procedure.
Let’s also not forget what racing engineer Peter Bonnington said to Hamilton on the radio. Knowing what normal procedure entails, he first told Hamilton that the overtaken cars would indeed be cleared, but that the race might not resume in time.
There was always a chance the race wouldn’t resume. But there was always a risk, for Hamilton, that this would be the case.
Again, as part of a perfectly normal safety car procedure, Hamilton was always going to be a sitting duck in this scenario.
Masi’s priority was to get the battered Williams off the track, and at the start the decision was made to leave the overtaken cars in place so the race could end under green flag conditions.
The fact that that decision was overturned in the penultimate round is what left a lot of anger, but if the proper procedure had been carried out from start to finish it wouldn’t even have been a problem.
One thing to note is the fact that Mercedes came to the Yas Marina circuit prepared with a lawyer, a bold move for a team that supposedly wanted to win the world track championship.
They had anticipated some sort of controversy. They had planned an off-track fight to accompany the perfectly legal track fight.
In some respect, you can’t blame them.
This race came after a week in which many media outlets shamelessly predicted that Verstappen would intentionally destroy Hamilton to seal the championship, given he possessed the tiebreaker (nine wins to eight) as the pair was tied at 369.5 points.
Apparently they bought it.
Ultimately, both Silver Arrows’ protests were dismissed, and although they filed an intention to appeal, they did not. Verstappen is officially the 2021 Formula 1 World Champion.