Lance Stroll has criticised the FIA for what he believes was a “ridiculous” conclusion to the 2021 F1 World Championship in Abu Dhabi.
Race Director Michael Masi’s handling of a late Safety Car had a direct impact on the outcome of the championship, as Max Verstappen overhauled rival Lewis Hamilton for the victory and the title on the final lap.
It came after the lapped drivers sitting between Hamilton and Verstappen controversially received clearance to unlap themselves, with the race restarting before they had circulated to join the back of the pack.
Following criticism from Mercedes and fans in the aftermath of the race, a full investigation was launched by the FIA into Masi’s decisions, with a report set to be released on the eve of the new season on 18 March.
Stroll slams “ridiculous” situation in Abu Dhabi
Asked for his thoughts on the finale at the launch of Aston Martin’s new F1 car, Stroll did not mince his words, slamming officials for “changing the rules”.
“It’s ridiculous that we didn’t go back racing in the way that we should have gone back racing,” Stroll told media, including RacingNews365.com.
“We can’t change the rules halfway through, or at the end of a race, and tell half the cars they can overtake.
“Unfortunately I was part of the group of the other half of the cars that couldn’t overtake on brand new Soft tyres with the opportunity to pass and maybe do something.
“It’s just never been done before and I think it’s important that we keep rules consistent.
“I understand that it’s great to go racing and everyone wants to see the last lap of the race, and the two drivers fighting for the World Championship go head-to-head with one lap to go, but we can’t be making up rules at the end of a race like that – it has to be set in stone.”
Stroll says consistency is key moving forward
Stroll has called for improved consistency in terms of the regulations and how they are applied, doubling down on his view with the comment that what happened in Abu Dhabi “wasn’t right”.
“Consistency in our sport is not our strongest point,” added Stroll.
“The rules are the rules. When there’s a Safety Car, lapped cars get to overtake the Safety Car and then we go racing [again].
“There’s nothing that says half the cars can overtake, and half the cars have to stay behind, and then we’ll go racing, so those things can’t be modified during a race just to put on a show.
“I’m not going to get into further detail with other things, but definitely that was an example of, I think, just poor consistency.
“It has to be sport first, and if there’s something that Formula 1 or the FIA did wrong or could have done differently, then that’s something to review in hindsight, after the race.
“I don’t think it’s right that happened in Abu Dhabi.”
Asked if he’s spoken to the FIA yet, Stroll said: “There’s been talks, but everyone kind of disappears after Abu Dhabi, so I’m sure we’ll touch on it some more as drivers with the FIA and Formula 1, and all of that, leading up to the first race.”
Check out Aston Martin’s new F1 challenger, the AMR22, which was presented to the world during a special launch ceremony on Thursday.