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Michael Masi’s judgment in Abu Dhabi contradicts the previous clarification of lap vehicles

Michael Masi’s decision to let selected lapped runners pass the safety car in Abu Dhabi contradicts a precedent he set in 2020.

At the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, there were complaints from the drivers when a safety car was used for an extended period of time during the race when it was feared that Lando Norris’ McLaren – which had sustained an engine damage – could be caught Fire, as at this point there were visible burns on the body with smoke from the car.

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen were the two front runners in this race as well, but complained during the safety car phase about the negative effects of lower speeds on cold surfaces on their tire temperatures.

Masi defended his actions at this point and since all lapped runners could pass the safety car and get away – but he apparently contradicted a certain rule at the weekend:

“The sporting regulations stipulate that all lapped cars must be waved past,” Masi said at the time.

This directly contradicts his decision in Abu Dhabi, according to which only the lapped runners who were positioned on the route between Hamilton and Verstappen were allowed to round themselves.

“From that point on, it was still sixth that was still running. Between 10 and 11 cars had to roll out, ”he continued.

“And that’s why the safety car phase was a little longer than we normally expected.”

Mercedes had protested against the FIA’s decision on the basis of the relevant law described by Masi, with Article 48.12 of the FIA’s sports regulations stating: “All cars lapped by the leader must overtake the cars in the lead lap and safety Car “and” as soon as the last lapped car has passed the leader, the safety car will return to the pits at the end of the following lap. “

Since the lapped cars were let through on the penultimate lap, full application of the rule would have ended the race under safety car conditions and thus changed the outcome of the world championship in Hamilton’s favor.

Because of this, Mercedes tried to argue that the FIA ​​either had to let all lapped cars or none of them pass – but their protest was ultimately dismissed after an investigation by the commissioners.

Masi’s testimony in the Abu Dhabi stewards’ testimony argued that the following clause would allow him to call the safety car at any time when it was safe to do so and that it would override anything previously done.

It read: “The Race Director stated that the purpose of Article 48.12 was to remove the lapped cars that would” disrupt “the race between the leaders and, in his view, Article 48.13.” [‘When the clerk of the course decides it is safe to call in the Safety Car the message “SAFETY CAR IN THIS LAP” will be sent to all Competitors.’] was the one that applied in this case. “

The Stewards’ verdict agreed, adding: “Although Article 48.12 may not have been applied in full, Article 48.13 in relation to the return of the safety car to the pits at the end of the following lap overrides this and once the message“ Safety car in this lap “Was displayed, it is imperative to withdraw the safety car at the end of this lap.”

Future Mercedes driver George Russell called Abu Dhabi’s decision “unacceptable” while McLaren’s Lando Norris said the intervention was “for television” but Red Bull believes the FIA ​​ultimately made the right decision.

Mercedes has filed an intention to appeal the stewards’ verdict and they are currently considering whether or not to open a full investigation to the International Court of Appeals.

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