A report on the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix found that “human error” was responsible for the controversial end of the 2021 season.
But it was decided that Michael Masi, who has since been deposed as FIA race director, was “acting in good faith”.
An executive summary of the report, discussed as part of an FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting in Bahrain on Saturday, was published more than three months after the end of last season and less than two hours before qualifying for 2022 season opener.
He also confirmed Max Verstappen’s status as Formula 1 world champion saying “the results of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the FIA Formula 1 World Championship are valid, final and cannot now be changed.”
However, both Red Bull and Mercedes had their knuckles bothered by his constant dialogue with Masi both in Abu Dhabi and at other controversial points in the season.
“These communications were found to be neither necessary nor useful for the proper conduct of the race,” the report said. “Rather, the consensus was that they add pressure to the race director at a critical moment…and could try to influence the decisions made by the race director.”
Hamilton had dominated the race in Abu Dhabi and appeared to be on course for race victory and a record world title when Nicholas Latifi crashed out of the safety car.
Masi then let the five unlapped cars between race leader Hamilton and Verstappen unfasten themselves, but not the rest of the unlapped cars in the field. That paved the way for Verstappen, on newer tyres, to overtake for victory and a maiden world title.
The FIA ruled that Masi “acted in good faith and to the best of his knowledge under the difficult circumstances, particularly recognizing the significant time constraints in making decisions and the immense pressure exerted by the teams.”
In an attempt to prevent future human error, software has now been developed to automate communication with the cars so that they unfasten themselves, so that all cars, not some, must be unfastened before the race can resume.