The FIA face an uphill challenge to clarify the rule book in certain areas following the 2021 season finale in Abu Dhabi, reckons F1 legend Alain Prost.
F1's governing body, and how Grands Prix are run, came under increasing scrutiny throughout 2021 due to the handling of various racing incidents and the transgressions that drivers avoided.
Abu Dhabi played host to the biggest flashpoint, with questions raised about Race Control's handling of the Safety Car restart when they appeared to overrule the Sporting Regulations in terms of how races resume after lapped cars are cleared out of the way.
Another issue was highlighted with regards to track limits, as Lewis Hamilton was allowed to hold onto his lead after cutting the track on Lap 1 when Max Verstappen drew alongside him into the braking zone of Turn 6.
Prost reflects on Abu Dhabi drama
Looking back on the 2021 showdown, Prost offered sympathy for Race Director Michael Masi and his "very difficult" job, amid pressure from various teams, but says it's time for the rule book to be tightened up.
"What happened, for sure, was not very correct – that is obvious," Prost told RacingNews365.com in an exclusive interview.
"On the other side, we have some very, very difficult rules at the moment. There's one thing that we have to be very careful [of], and that's what could happen now, today.
"There is always a lot of pressure from different teams. When you're a top team - we're talking about Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari - you always put a lot of pressure for the rules, for the technical rules, for the clerk of the course."
Would a red flag have been the better choice?
Referring to his time competing in F1 in the 1980s and 1990s, Prost suggested that a lot of the Abu Dhabi controversy could have been avoided had Masi opted for a red flag situation to reset the race.
"At the end of the day, look at what happened in my time – you could have the red flag," he commented.
"All the cars would go on the grid, you couldn't touch the car, and then you started again. Maybe that would have been the best decision.
"We have a new rule that now you can touch the car, you can change the tyres or whatever, but it takes much more time.
"And then, sometimes, you have a decision to make, because of television and other things, and obviously what Michael wanted to do is what all the teams ask [for] very often – we don't want to finish a race anymore under the Safety Car.
"So you have to be very careful about how you judge that but, for sure, on the sporting side, it was not very correct.
"Now you could have some pressure from Mercedes, from Lewis, for a new [Race] Director. It would be sad also for Michael [if he is replaced], because he has done a good job."
Prost calls for clearer rules in 2022
The four-time World Champion then pointed to how modern-day track design is also causing issues, due to the vast amounts of run-off lining the tarmac.
"Looking at all these new tracks today. How can you have a clear rule?" Prost questioned.
"Almost every track, every corner has a different specificity. It is very difficult. We went into a position where we are going to have more and more problems. And we have more and more problems.
"[It's] very difficult to fix everything. We have to be careful that we don't have the same story again, that only one team are putting pressure and are getting what they want.
"That's why the FIA has a very, very big challenge now, for the next month, to have clear rules."
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