Formula 1 changes safety car rules to prevent 2021 Abu Dhabi GP repeat

Formula One’s governing body changed safety car rules on Tuesday to avoid a repeat of the controversy that erupted after last year’s decisive title race in Abu Dhabi.

Race director Michael Masi, who was replaced last month, changed the procedure in the final laps at Yas Marina which allowed Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to overtake Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and claim the title.

Hamilton would otherwise have won a record eighth championship.

The governing FIA has clarified in a revised edition of the 2022 sporting regulations that “all”, rather than “all”, the more ambiguous run-in cars must run before a restart.

Masi had allowed the race to resume after only the lapped cars between Verstappen and Hamilton, then in the lead, had split.

That left plenty of time for a final lap of the race, with the Dutchman on fresh tires and able to overtake his title rival.

Masi has since been replaced by two officials, Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, who will share the post of race director as part of a wider restructuring of the refereeing process.

They will be assisted by FIA stalwart Herbie Blash who will return as a permanent senior adviser, having retired in 2016 after 50 years in the sport. Blash was previously assistant to the late race director Charlie Whiting.

The new season starts in Bahrain this weekend.

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