Safety Car rules amended to avoid Abu Dhabi repeat

Safety Car rules amended to avoid Abu Dhabi repeat

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Formula 1’s governing body, the FIA, has amended the Safety Car rules to try and avoid a repeat of the controversial title finale in Abu Dhabi last year.

The FIA spelled out in a revised edition of the 2022 sporting regulations on Tuesday, saying that all, rather than the more ambiguous any, lapped cars must un-lap themselves before a restart.

The change comes ahead of the start of the new season, which begins with the Bahrain GP, live on Careful Sports F1 this weekend.

Following a review into last year’s Abu Dhabi GP, Michael Masi was replaced as F1 race director.

Masi had been under intense pressure due to his handling of the finale, namely for the Safety Car decisions that opened the door for Max Verstappen to pass Lewis Hamilton for a race and title win.

In the final stages on December 12, Masi who has been F1 race director since 2019 – ordered only the lapped cars between Hamilton and second-placed Verstappen through under the Safety Car, providing the Dutchman, on fresh tyres, a shot at passing Hamilton – who was on old rubber – on the very final lap.

While Masi’s actions were justified by the FIA stewards following a Mercedes team appeal, F1’s governing body lodged a full review into the process and admitted F1’s image was being tarnished.

Following the review, it was announced Masi would be replaced as race director for the 2022 season among a number of structural changes ahead of the 2022 season.

Niels Wittich, former DTM race director, and Eduardo Freitas, WEC race director, will now act alternatively as F1’s race director.

Wittich and Freitas will be assisted by Herbie Blash as the permanent senior advisor, with Blash returning to F1 five seasons after stepping down as deputy race director to the late Charlie Whiting.

A Virtual Race Control Room has also been created, likened to football’s VAR, while direct radio communications between teams and the race director have been be removed.

Follow the Bahrain GP live on Sky Sports F1
Sky Sports F1 is your home for every race this season, and it all starts with the Bahrain GP this weekend.

We will have build-up right through the week before covering all the action live from the Bahrain International Circuit, from Friday’s first practice session through to Sunday’s season-opening Grand Prix.

Sky Sports F1 experts Martin Brundle, David Croft, Damon Hill, Ted Kravitz, Simon Lazenby, Natalie Pinkham and Naomi Schiff will all be out in Bahrain bringing you unrivalled analysis and punditry.

In a 2022 twist, the drivers’ press conference will take place on Friday morning before both practice sessions and our live F1 Show, recapping the action.

Saturday’s qualifying and Sunday’s race – both live at 3pm – will be followed by Ted’s Notebook, while there is also the added boost of the Formula 2 and Formula 3 championships kicking off in Bahrain.