Formula One finale to be reviewed by FIA for future lessons

The controversy surrounding the race is ‘tarnishing the image of the championship,’ says the FIA

The motorsports governing body for Formula One said it will conduct “a detailed analysis" of the wild ending at the season finale that decided the championship in favour of Red Bull driver Max Verstappen.

The FIA said Sunday’s title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix had created a controversy that is “tarnishing the image of the championship.” Verstappen claimed his first world title when he passed Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes on the final lap. He was given the opportunity after a key decision by race director Michael Masi.

Hamilton had led 51 of the 58 laps until a crash by Nicholas Latifi brought out the safety car with five laps remaining. Verstappen stopped under yellow for a fresh set of tires, and Masi flipped his decision and let the drivers separating Verstappen from Hamilton pass the safety car under yellow.

The race resumed with one lap remaining and Verstappen restarting second behind Hamilton. He passed Hamilton in the fifth turn and won his first title.

Mercedes filed two appeals that were dismissed and has now asked for a further review from the International Court of Appeal. Verstappen is set to receive his championship trophy Thursday night.

The FIA delivered a report on the incident on Wednesday to the World Motor Sport Council in Paris, then said in a later statement the finish “notably generated significant misunderstanding and reactions from Formula One teams, drivers and fans." It said the argument "is currently tarnishing the image of the championship and the due celebration” of Verstappen and constructors’ title winner Mercedes.

The review will be to “draw any lessons from this situation and clarity to be provided to the participants, media, and fans about the current regulations.” “It is not only Formula 1 that may benefit from this analysis, but also more generally all the other FIA circuit championships," the FIA said on Wednesday.

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