Ferrari happy to discuss lessons from F1 finale

Mattia Binotto

Ferrari would be happy to discuss possible lessons from a controversial ending to the 2021 Formula 1 season, says team principal Mattia Binotto.

The world drivers’ championship was clinched by Max Verstappen in a final-lap sprint to the chequered flag at the Yas Marina Circuit, when he passed Lewis Hamilton for victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

That move came after a late Safety Car, during which Race Control initially advised that the lapped cars between the top two would not be cleared, only to then decide that they would be waved by.

That gave Verstappen a clear shot at the #44 Mercedes, and the Red Bull driver did not waste the opportunity which had been presented to him.

Mercedes lodged an ultimately unsuccessful protest, then withdrew its intent to appeal following the announcement that the FIA will investigate the circumstances of that race and how the Safety Car period was managed.

Race director Michael Masi has come in for criticism for how he handled the conclusion to the season, but Binotto defended the Australian, in comments made at Ferrari’s Christmas press conference.

“I think certainly his [Masi’s] job has been the most difficult job on the planet at that time in Abu Dhabi to decide,” said Binotto.

“It’s important to have lessons learned, if any. I think that will happen in the F1 Commission where it will be discussed, all the events and the situations, and identify if there is any improvement to be made for the future.

“That’s the mandate from the World Council, which is the most important one.

“And as Ferrari, [we] are very happy to sit down with all the other team principles, the FIA, F1, to discuss if something could have been done in a different way.

“But still, I think judging the decisions would be wrong from my side because I believe, again, it was a very difficult call.

“It seems there are proper reasons why they managed it that way, maybe something different could have been done. Again, difficult to judge.”

While Mercedes withdrew its intent to appeal, its team principal Toto Wolff has raised the possibility that the controversy might cause Hamilton to quit the championship due to disillusion.

New FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem is confident the Briton will drive on in 2022, when he would again be aiming for an eighth world drivers’ championship title.

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