It was lap 56 that decided the fate of the Englishman; where the safety car was deployed as well as a yellow flag following the crash of the Williams driver, Nicholas Latifi. At this moment, Max Verstappen pitted and changed to soft tyres. The final lap, with Max on soft tyres the safety car left, the green flag was back and the fight for the title has never been more vicious and with Hamilton in the lead, Max took over at turn 5, and with epic attempts to take his position back Hamilton fought like a champion; unfortunately luck wasn’t on his side and for the first time ever Max Verstappen was crowned the F1 champion for the year 2021.
However, truth be told Formula 1 is always better with some drama, and the Final GP of the 2021 season didn’t shy away from a bit of spice – well it was over spiced. After the race, Mercedes filed two appeals protesting about the outcome of the race. The first appeal alleged that Verstappen passed and overtook Hamilton during the safety car. While the second appeal was related to the stewards decision to unlap the five lapped cars behind the Safety Car immediately before racing resumed for the final lap of the race. With Hamilton at the forefront of the protest, the stewards decided to dismiss Mercedes’s appeal. And with that Mercedes announced that they will no longer peruse the matter by releasing the statement:
This occurred even though the FIA proposed to conduct a “detailed analysis and clarification exercise” regarding the incidence, they continue: “Following the presentation of a report regarding the sequence of events that took place following the incident on Lap 53 of the Grand Prix and in a constant drive for improvement, the FIA President proposed to the World Motor Sport Council that a detailed analysis and clarification exercise for the future with all relevant parties will now take place”. It is worth noting that the FIAs former president Jean Todt left his position as president five days after the big incidence in Abu Dhabi.
Many of the teams principals and leaders have weighed in on the matter including McLaren’s CEO, Zak brown saying “I don't think this was a malicious decision,” he said. “So for those that might have a view that the sport’s corrupt, etc. I don't agree with that… “I think we've all seen in sport before, referees make decisions that the people disagree with. Sometimes they're right, sometimes they're wrong. It gets pretty exciting. But then the [new] season starts and it soon becomes a thing that, while you never forget about, it was a thing of the past.”
When asked if Michael Masi should be sacked, Gunther Steiner, Haas’s team principal had a less rehearsed answer saying “I wouldn't like to go to the FIA to tell them what they should be doing”. It was previously reported that Steiner has met with the current FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem to discuss the Abu Dhabi incidence.
Nevertheless, recently the FIA executive director Peter Bayer hinted about the replacement of Michael Masi "(We are looking at) dividing the various tasks of the race director, who is also sports director, safety and track delegate," said Bayer. Suggesting that the responsibility of the race director could be split between multiple people.