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F1 boss speaks out as the FIA’s crucial Abu Dhabi report looms

Formula 1 boss Stefano Domenicali has hit back at claims that the 2021 season finale in Abu Dhabi was “fixed”, but feels the FIA’s upcoming report into the race is vital to the sport’s “credibility” going forward.

Then Race Director Michael Masi’s handling of a late Safety Car at last year’s showdown
had a direct impact on the outcome of the Drivers’ Championship, with Max Verstappen beating Lewis Hamilton to the title via a final-lap pass.

Amid a backlash from Mercedes and fans, the FIA launched a full
investigation into the closing laps, and the decisions taken by Masi, with the findings set to be presented at Saturday’s World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) meeting.

It remains unclear whether the full report, or simply an executive summary of the findings, will be released to the media.

Domenicali: F1’s credibility on the line with Abu Dhabi report

Speaking in an interview with Sky Sports ahead of the eagerly-awaited WMSC meeting, Domenicali stressed that F1’s credibility is at stake when it comes to the FIA’s report and the lessons applied for the future.

The FIA have already acted to remove Masi from his role as Race Director, with Domenicali believing that this was a way of “protecting”
the Australian who was under “a lot of pressure” to manage the position in previous seasons.

“What we need to avoid is a personal discussion,” Domenicali stated.

“We are all human
beings. You may say you are performing well as a driver, as a team, as a
referee, but this is not relevant to the credibility of the sport if the sport will
take all the lessons in order to improve that.

“The credibility is passing through this kind of action, and this is
what we’re expecting from the FIA to take on board in the preparation of the next
year.”

He added: “The aim is to have a step forward [and] to move forward from Abu Dhabi.

“We’re already in Bahrain, so there is no need to talk with a
different approach rather than to say what we learn as the regulator
from that last race.”

Domenicali adamant that the 2021 F1 finale wasn’t “fixed”

Domenicali was also keen to give a
response to fans who have suggested that the title decider was fixed.

“I have not for a single second in my mind thought that something was built
on purpose,” he commented.

“As a sportsman, if I thought that was the case, I would not be there,
and I can guarantee that, from F1’s perspective, this is not the
case.”

As for whether the sport needs to rebuild trust after the controversy, Domenicali said: “I think that, to be honest, [it] is already there.

“We had last week a meeting with all the promoters, all the
broadcasters and all the partners. Almost all of the places we’re going
[to] are sold out, [which] means Formula 1 [does not have] that problem, and
it means the trust is there.”


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