Andreas Seidl: Controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ‘not good’ for Formula 1

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl says the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was the highest profile among a series of controversial decisions made by officials last year.

F1 race director Michael Masi has come under fire throughout the winter break for his decisions that saw Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton lose the title to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on the final lap of the season.

At the 2021 finale, a late Safety Car bunched up the pack. But after stating he would not allow lapped cars to overtake, Masi elected to release only the cars between the title contenders. Hamilton was a sitting duck and Verstappen was able to make a late pass to claim victory on fresher tyres.

Masi was put under increasing scrutiny throughout the 2021 season with the Australian often having to defend his decision-making.

The 2021 Belgian Grand Prix was marred by poor weather conditions and qualifying went ahead despite calls from drivers for a red flag. As a result, McLaren’s Lando Norris had a heavy shunt in Q3 at the top of Eau Rouge, with Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel critical of running the session in such conditions.

Meanwhile, the Belgian GP itself, also affected by heavy rain, suffered lengthy delays with the race itself being awarded half points after just three laps behind the Safety Car.

Seidl believes the number of controversial decisions had a negative effect on F1, but welcomes creating an environment where mistakes can be openly acknowledged.

“It is clear that what happened in Abu Dhabi was very controversial and not good for the sport,” said Seidl, quoted by BBC Sport.

“If you look at the entire season, a lot of controversial things happened that were overall not good for the sport.

“We need to invest time and energy to understand what happened in the season and see how we can help by making the regulations less complex [and] by giving more support to the race director and to the stewards to avoid the mistakes happening.

“It is still a human sport and that we shouldn’t forget. And we need to accept mistakes can happen on the team side and on the FIA side.

“And it’s important we create an environment where if mistakes happen, you raise your hand and admit them. That is as important as trying to avoid similar controversies in the first place.”

 

The FIA have been conducting a series of investigations into the decisions at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with a report on their findings due at the World Motorsport Council Meeting on March 18.

 

 

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