New FIA president promises rules review over Abu Dhabi

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W12 leads Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB16B on the final lap of the race. 12.12.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina
© XPB 

The new FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem has promised to make any necessary changes to Formula 1's rules and regulations to prevent a repeat of the scenes that took place at the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton took the final lap restart in the lead of the race, but a series of controversial decisions by race control meant he was a sitting duck to his Red Bull rival Max Verstappen who blasted past and clinched the title.

It's left Hamilton feeling "disillusioned" with the way the sport is run, according to his boss Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff - to the extent of considering his future in F1.

It's also angered many fans and left some arguing that the way the title was decided has 'tainted' Verstappen's maiden championship.

Faced with a credibility crisis, Sulayem has promised that his first priority on succeeding Jean Todt as the head of motorsport's governing body will be to look into what happened and make any changes necessary.

"We will look into the rules and we are sure that, if any situation like this occurs in the future, we will have an instant solution for it or avoid it even," he told a press conference in Paris on Friday after taking over the reins.

"There are so many areas that we can improve," he continued. "We cannot just sit and say we are good. No it's not enough in a sport as heavy, I would say, and as important [as ours].

"There is always a place for improvement. We just have to look where can we improve," he insisted. "If you talk to me about the credibility of the FIA, yes, we lie on good structures, and good teams."

The figure at the centre of the controversy is race director Michael Masi, who took over the role at short notice in March 2019 when long time incumbent Charlie Whiting died on the eve of the Australian GP.

Although the FIA race stewards in Abu Dhabi backed the calls made by Masi, fans and pundits have been calling for his removal after what transpired.

"Why do we jump? We'll have to actually look into the matter," Sulayem responded when asked about Masi's future. "I definitely will not just jump to a conclusion on decisions without going back to my team."

"I have a meeting with the staff, and I will look into every single matter that can be improved."

The FIA has already announced that it will hold an in-depth independent review into what happened on Sunday. It was after this that Mercedes dropped its official appeal against the result of the season finale, clearing the way for Verstappen to be crowned champion.

As for himself, Sulayem promised that he would be focussed on the work in hand in his new role. "One thing is that I will devote myself, and I am not going to have any other job except being the President of the FIA.

"I stepped down from all of my other responsibilities, I am not going to do anything else, and I'm not going to be a burden on the FIA," he added.

"I will concentrate with passion, with the right team, and I have a good team, and we are asking for even a better team. This is why the FIA is credible."

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