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Russell: We've all come to the agreement that Abu Dhabi was incorrect

George Russell has his fingers firmly crossed that F1 will see no repeat of the controversy that overshadowed the finale of the 2021 season as he prepares for his first campaign in what he hopes will be a race-winning car.

Mercedes driver George Russell believes that Formula 1 has come to a collective agreement that what happened between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen during the final laps of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was "incorrect". The two championship rivals traded places on the last lap of last season's finale, with Hamilton missing out on a record-eighth World Championship crown. The ending has proven to be perhaps the most controversial in the sport's history, with Race Director Michael Masi, the man tasked with making the big decisions on that day, having since been removed from his role by the FIA. With on-track testing for the 2022 season set to begin later this week, Masi will be replaced by Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, assisted by Charlie Whiting's former number two, Herbie Blash. There will also be the implementation of a secondary Virtual Race Control Room using technological tools, that has been compared to football's VAR by FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem. Masi, meanwhile, will be offered a role elsewhere in the organisation. The changes are the closest that the FIA may ever come to admitting that mistakes were made in Abu Dhabi – and Hamilton's new teammate, Russell, is hopeful that they will not happen again. "I think in sport there is always a huge amount of pressure on every individual, whether that's from the athlete, from the coach, from the manager, from the engineers, to the referees, or the race directors," Russell told media including RacingNews365.com . "Mistakes happen when the heat of the moment is on and people's emotions are high. "I think we've all come to the agreement that what happened in Abu Dhabi was incorrect. The changes have been made because of the outcome of Abu Dhabi. I think [Lewis] also recognises that."

Hamilton puts exit rumours to bed, even if record-breaking title win was "taken away from him"

After months of speculation that Hamilton may walk away from the sport, the seven-time World Champion returned to the track on Friday afternoon in Mercedes' new W13 car. It is now clear that the 37-year-old will race for the silver arrows during the 2022 season, alongside Russell as his teammate. It was the first time that Hamilton had taken control of an F1 car since the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. "Fingers crossed, with the changes the FIA have made, that won't happen again," continued Russell. "I do really feel for Lewis because, with how he bounced back at the end of that season, he had that race completely under control and he only had to bring it home and he would have been an eight-time World Champion. He had that completely taken away from him. "The FIA were incredibly proactive straight away after Abu Dhabi to find better solutions. I think the VAR solution is great and it makes total sense to have further assistance with people analysing live to get a quicker view and for decisions to be made. "The way that drivers exploit the rulebook is understandable and, equally, the FIA needs to do more to compensate for that because every team, every driver is always going to look for a way to get the upper hand. "I think it will take some time to really refine but I think it's definitely a step in the right direction."

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RESULTS 2024 F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix - Free Practice 3