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Drivers warn F1 over Abu Dhabi repeat as FIA report looms

Carlos Sainz and Lance Stroll have made their feelings clear as to how F1 must learn from the controversy of 2021's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, as fans wait to learn the findings of a report into the big decisions that day.

Formula 1 must ensure there is never a repeat of their "mistake" in Abu Dhabi that saw "the rules changed" mid-race as Max Verstappen snatched the world title crown away from Lewis Hamilton. That is according to drivers Carlos Sainz and Lance Stroll as they join the rest of the F1 paddock in waiting to learn to findings of an FIA report into what happened on one of the sport's most controversial days. Those findings are set to be published on 18 March, the Friday of this month's season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix weekend. It will cover why, amongst other things, the decision was taken to allow only some lapped cars to pass the leaders during the final laps. That left Verstappen free to battle for the win with Hamilton. The controversy that followed was enough to see Michael Masi removed from his post as Race Director and replaced by Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, assisted by Herbie Blash. And there is hope that providing the Race Directors with added support will help speed up the consistency of their decision-making.

Stroll says Abu Dhabi events were "wrong"

Speaking to media, including RacingNews365.com , at the recent Barcelona pre-season test, Sainz and Stroll were clear in their views. "What happened in Abu Dhabi was not great and I was also personally affected by it," said Ferrari driver Sainz, who feels he was robbed of the chance to fight for the race win himself in Abu Dhabi, with lapped cars left between himself and the battle ahead, despite the lapped cars between Verstappen and Hamilton having been removed. "I was quite vocal in saying that F1 cannot make that same mistake again." Aston Martin's Stroll has been equally outspoken on the topic, calling on F1 and the FIA to ensure that their rules are clear, understood by all and are closely followed by the Race Director during race weekends. "Unfortunately, I just think it was wrong what happened in Abu Dhabi. We can't be changing rules during the middle of races, adapting the rules depending on the situation," he said. "I think things have to be very clear. Decisions need to be made in whatever way the rules say they have to be made."

Sainz sad to see Masi go

Despite his frustration with the events of Abu Dhabi, Sainz was sad to see Masi go during the FIA's reshuffle. The FIA say they will offer the Australian, who was Race Director from 2019 to 2022, a new position within their organisation, but no further updates have been provided. "I think Michael has done an outstanding job in Formula 1 and I think, or I personally feel like, it's been a pleasure to work with him," Sainz added. "The FIA has decided to take that route, another direction and we need to trust the process and their analysis to see if the if this sport is going to be ruled in a better way from now on, and that the different changes in the organisation that they're doing in the background will help to monitor races better, and make life a bit easier for the new Race Directors. "Personally, I'm sad to see Michael go because I think he was doing a good job despite everything that happened also. Let's see what happens next." In new comments released by Sky Sports for an upcoming documentary on the 2021 F1 season, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has suggested that Masi was "turned" by Red Bull during the title run-in.

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