Williams team driver Nicholas Latifi revealed he received many threats after the final stage of the F1 2021 season. “Back at the race last weekend, as soon as the checkered flag was lowered, I knew how it was going to happen on social media. In fact, I felt it was best for me to delete Instagram and Twitter from my phone. chat for a few days because we all know how cruel the online world is,” Latifi wrote on the racer’s own website.
Threatened to kill for causing Hamilton to lose the championship
Latifi crashed into a barrier at the Grand Prix Abu Dhabi on December 12, causing the safety car to be deployed with five laps remaining. This indirectly changes the race order. Taking advantage of the situation, Max Verstappen returned to the pit to change the tire and the advantage from the new set of tires helped the Dutch driver overcome Lewis Hamilton in the final round to win the first F1 championship in his career.
“The hate, intimidation and disparagement that followed on social media didn’t really surprise me. It’s just the stark reality of the world we live in right now. I’m no stranger to receiving these kinds of messages. negative messages online. I think every sports figure at the world level understands that they are always under intense scrutiny, sometimes even from a territorial perspective,” Latifi said.
“But as we’ve seen time and time again, in every sport, it only takes one incident at the wrong time and everything explodes in the wrong direction and sparks the worst of the worst. from the fans. What shocked me was the tone of extreme hatred, even the death threats that I had to receive,” the 26-year-old driver revealed.
Not only Latifi, many other people also became victims of public opinion after the controversy at the decisive stage of the F1 2021 season. Race director Michael Masi was heavily criticized. He was the one who decided for five roundabouts to be allowed to pass safely, thereby creating conditions for Verstappen to close Hamilton in the final round. Verstappen himself was not happy when his victory was deemed unworthy.
FIA rejects Mercedes complaint
The referee held that Mercedes had no basis in protesting the way the track was rearranged, leading to the victory for Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi.
Mercedes filed a complaint when the race was over in less than 30 minutes. The FIA track supervisors convened a meeting at 8:15 pm on 12/12 Abu Dhabi time, with the participation of the parties: three representatives of Mercedes, three representatives of Red Bull and Race Supervisor Michael Masi. . Red Bull, as a stakeholder, is allowed to attend. The meeting was then adjourned at 20:50 to give Red Bull more time to consider the argument and then returned at 21:30.
Mercedes judged Masi to have committed two errors. Section 48.12 of the Motorsport Code states that “cars caught in a lap must pass the laps and the safety vehicle when required” and “when the vehicles are caught overtaking the lead vehicle, the safety vehicle will return to the pit on the next lap of the race”. According to Mercedes, this doesn’t happen when only five of the eight cars are caught in a safe lap before the race resumes and the safety car returns to the pit on lap 57 rather than waiting for the next lap, ie the last lap. of the race.
The German team also cites clause 48.8: “No driver may overtake another vehicle, including a safety vehicle, until he has crossed the line for the first time after the safety vehicle has returned to the pit”. Vin into this, Mercedes thinks that Verstappen is not allowed to pass Hamilton. With these two reasons, Mercedes requested the referee to correct the race order according to clause 11.9.3.h of the FIA Code of Conduct, thereby declaring Hamilton’s 44 car to win the race.
After the car of Nicholas Latifi (Williams team) had an accident in lap 53, the safety car was deployed. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Red Bull called Verstappen to change a new set of soft tires. Meanwhile, Mercedes helplessly witnessed Red Bull change the tire but could not follow because it fell into a passive position.
When he returned to the track, Verstappen was still in second place, but sandwiched between him and Hamilton were five cars that were caught in the loop (including Leclerc, Vettel, Ricciardo, Stroll and Schumacher). Initially, the cars caught in a roundabout were not allowed to pass safely. This puts Verstappen at a disadvantage because he will have to pass up to five cars before he can consider attacking Hamilton when the race resumes.
But in lap 57, race director Masi suddenly allowed the cars caught in the round to pass safely in this round, creating conditions for Verstappen to approach Hamilton when the car was safe to go to the pit. As a result, the Red Bull driver surpassed his senior in the final round thanks to a new set of tires and won the 2021 season championship .
Before Mercedes’ complaint, Red Bull countered. Firstly, this team believes that “cars do not mean that every car caught in a circle must pass safely”. Red Bull cites clause 48.13: “when the message ‘Safe car in this round’ is given, it is a signal that it will return to the pit at the end of that round”. They think that clause 48.13 invalidated clause 48.12 and that the car safely returned to the pit at the end of round 57 is legal.
Red Bull also relies on clause 15.3 which states that “The race director has greater authority over all regulations regarding the deployment of a safety vehicle”. They also confirmed that even five of the eight cars caught in a roundabout were allowed to pass safely, which did not change the outcome of the race.
Race director Masi defended his decision as follows: “Clause 48.12 is intended to eliminate the possibility of cars caught laps interfering in the race between the top drivers. Therefore, clause 48.13 should apply. in this case”. He also asserted that racing teams have long agreed that all races should be finished in “green” conditions, i.e. no safety cars. Therefore, it is necessary for the car to be safely called to the pit at the end of the penultimate lap.
After considering the opinions of the parties, the referees agree that the result of the race will be preserved. By clause 15.3 allows the Track Supervisor to control the safety vehicle deployment process. Clause 48.12 may not be fully enforceable, but it is superseded by clause 48.13 on the argument Red Bull has made.
The parties involved are allowed to appeal this ruling to the FIA’s Judicial and Disciplinary Committee within the stipulated time.
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