2021 Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Report to the World Motor Sport Council - March 19, 2022

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Formula 1's regulatory body, the FIA, has provided a summary of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix analysis they conducted.

Max Verstappen won his first championship with a last-lap pass of title rival Lewis Hamilton at Yas Marina Circuit while changing tires under a late Safety Car.

Saturday, prior to qualifying for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, the FIA disclosed specifics from a study submitted to the World Motor Sport Council.

It included a timeline of the events, beginning with Nicholas Latifi wrecking his Williams and causing the Safety Car to be deployed and ending with Mercedes abandoning their appeals.

Important discoveries

The assessment determined that the "Event Director's tasks should be separated and delegated to other individuals in order to minimize the Race Director's burden and allow them to focus on their essential responsibilities, including directing and regulating the race."

Regarding Team Principals' ability to communicate directly with the Race Director, the report concluded, "Communications between (on the one hand) F1 teams and (on the other hand) the Race Director during a race should be restricted so that the Race Director can perform his/her crucial role without undue disruptions and distractions."

The final portion focuses on the unlapping method for the Safety Car. The study discovered "Historically, identifying the automobiles that had been passed was a manual procedure. For the 2022 season, a program that automates the communication of the list of vehicles that must unlap themselves has been created."

The FIA modified the Sporting Regulations this week by replacing "any" with "all" in the following sentence: "All vehicles that have been lapped by the leader must pass the cars on the lead lap and the Safety Car."

These suggestions

The study offered four suggestions:

  • "A Virtual Race Control Room should be constructed to aid the Race Director in the decision-making process. Similar to the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in football, it will be stationed in one of the FIA Offices outside the track as a backup. Using the most advanced technology capabilities, it will be possible to implement the Sporting Regulations in realtime conjunction with the FIA F1 race director."

  • "Direct radio communications during the race, which are now live-broadcast on all televisions, should be eliminated to protect the Race Director from any pressure and for him to make choices calmly. According to a welldefined and nonintrusive procedure, it will still be allowed to ask questions of the Race Director."

  • "The F1 Sporting Advisory Committee should reevaluate unlapping processes behind the Safety Car and provide its findings to the next F1 Commission prior to the start of the season."

  • "A new race management crew has been assembled beginning with the test session in Barcelona. Niels Wittich (former DTM Race Director) and Eduardo Freitas (former WEC Race Director) will alternate as Race Directors, with Herbie Blash (former chief of staff to Charlie Whiting) serving as a permanent senior adviser."

It was also mentioned that a new F1 Sporting Director will be hired. In addition, the governing body will hire an extra senior regulatory legal counsel to bolster "legal support I during F1 contests (regardless of time difference) and notably throughout the weekend and (ii) on F1 sporting concerns."

The FIA stated in a statement that the World Motor Sport Council "unanimously accepted the contents of this study, and the FIA will continue to implement the highlighted suggestions as soon as practicable."

The statement noted that "the assessment concludes that the Race Director was operating in good faith" and that "because to the increased risk of human error associated with manual interventions, software has been created to automate the delivery of the list of vehicles that must un-lap themselves."

In the meanwhile, the article noted that the F1 teams had acknowledged that, despite their preference to finish a race under green flag circumstances, they would accept completing under the Safety Car "if for safety reasons it is not practicable to withdraw [it]."

The FIA's Remote Operations Centre (ROC), formerly known as Virtual Race Control, is now operational at its headquarters in Geneva.