The results of the FIA’s inquiry into the highly controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which saw Lewis Hamilton lose out on a record-breaking eighth world title to Max Verstappen last month, will not be announced until the eve of the opening weekend of the 2022 season.
Hamilton was left “disillusioned” by the manner in which the closing stages of the season-deciding race were allowed to unfold and it has been reported in recent days that the 36-year-old is awaiting the results of the inquiry before deciding whether to return to Formula One next season.
The British driver has been silent since losing out on the championship to Verstappen on the final lap of the campaign. Mercedes were left furious by the decisions of race director Michael Masi, who allowed some but not all overtaken cars to unlap themselves under a late safety car, but withdrew their appeals of the result.
They did so on the condition that the FIA would analyse the closing stages of the race, in order to “improve the robustness of the rules, governance and decision-making in Formula One”.
Newly-elected FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been in touch with Hamilton as the governing body looks to regain the seven-time champion’s trust in the sport, but the results of the inquiry are said to be crucial in whether they are successful.
Those results will not be announced until the opening day of the F1 calendar, however, and on the same day as the first practice session of the season at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Friday 18 March.
“The outcome of the detailed analysis will be presented to the F1 Commission in February and final decisions will be announced at the World Motor Sport Council in Bahrain on 18 March,” the FIA said.
The opening race of the season takes place in Bahrain that weekend, with the first qualifying session being held on Saturday 19 March and the opening race on Sunday 20 March.
In a statement outlining the process of their review, the FIA said the controversial use of the safety car, which followed Nicholas Latifi’s late crash, would be discussed at a meeting of the Sporting Advisory Committee on 19 January. They also said they would be holding discussions with all 20 drivers over the coming weeks.