Masi was replaced as race director last month after the wild Abu Dhabi ending. Red Bull driver Max Verstappen won his first world title after overtaking Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton on the last lap following a controversial restart procedure. The FIA launched the review after admitting concerns in a statement that the race was “tarnishing the image of the championship.”
Hamilton led comfortably until a crash by Nicholas Latifi brought out the safety car with five laps remaining. Verstappen stopped under yellow flags for quicker tires, and Masi flipped his decision and let the five drivers separating Verstappen from Hamilton pass the safety car under yellow. But not all eight, which would have taken longer.
“The process of identifying lapped cars has up until now been a manual one and human error lead to the fact that not all cars were allowed to un-lap themselves,” the FIA said as it published its final conclusions on Saturday. “Due to the fact that manual interventions generally carry a higher risk of human error, software has been developed that will, from now on, automate the communication of the list of cars that must un-lap themselves.”
Masi also called the safety car back too early.
“The race director called the safety car back into the pit lane without it having completed an additional lap,” the FIA said.
Verstappen restarted second behind Hamilton and, on quicker new tires, zoomed past Hamilton in the fifth turn. Mercedes lost both its protests over how the race ended.
Verstappen’s status as world champion, while not in doubt, has effectively been confirmed on the eve of Sunday’s opening race in Bahrain.
“The results of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the FIA Formula One World Championship are valid, final and cannot now be changed,” the FIA said.
Masi was cleared of any intent and the FIA said he was just doing his best to finish the race.
“In combination with the objective to finish under green flag racing conditions applied throughout the 2021 season, the report finds that the race director was acting in good faith and to the best of his knowledge given the difficult circumstances,” the FIA said. “Particularly acknowledging the significant time constraints for decisions to be made and the immense pressure being applied by the teams.”
That intense pressure saw team leaders from Hamilton’s Mercedes team and Verstappen’s Red Bull both talking heatedly to him live on television, as he was trying to make the toughest call of his career.
Direct radio communications have now been removed in order to protect the race director from external pressure. Structural changes have seen the creation a new soccer-style Virtual Race Control Room, which will be called the Remote Operations Center (ROC).
“The ROC will act as a supporting resource for the race direction team with data comparable to that of more than ten simultaneous football matches, including over 140 video and audio sources,” the FIA said.
Motocross 2023: Results and points after SuperMotocross Round 18 at Hangtown
Lawrence led all 16 laps of both races after taking the holeshot in the second moto and grabbing the lead from Dylan Ferrandis in Turn 2 of Moto 1. Lawrence claimed a four-second lead in Moto 1 and five seconds in Moto 2, but as dominant as it seems on paper, there were some exciting moments during the weekend. In the second race, Lawrence wanted to build an advantage that would allow him to maintain his pace and he nearly high-sided a couple of times in heavy ruts.
In his second race back from a concussion, Ferrandis finished in the runner-up spot with a second in Moto 1 and a third in Moto 2. While his finish of second overall goes into the record books, Pro Motocross points are rewarded for each individual race and that meant Ferrandis lost eight points in championship battle to Lawrence. With Sexton failing to mount up for the race, Ferrandis advanced to second in the standings with an 18-point gap to Lawrence. Equally important, Ferrandis gained ground in the SuperMotocross World Championship (WSX) points and now has a gap of 44 over 21st-place Justin Starling.
Cooper Webb is also in his second round since returning from a Supercross injury suffered in Nashville at the end of their season. Claiming results of fourth and second in the two races, Webb earned 40 SuperMotocross points at Hangtown and closed in on Sexton in the WSX battle. Sexton entered Hangtown with a large enough lead that he could not be overtaken, but he is now only 38 points up and could face a difficult decision next week at Thunder Valley in Lakewood, Colorado if he wants to hold onto his lead.
Aaron Plessinger had an adventurous weekend in which he seemed to close on Lawrence in his second race before crashing and dropping to fourth. Coupled with a fifth-place finish in Moto 1, he earned 35 points and was credited with fourth overall.
Cashing in on confidence he gained in the final rounds of the Supercross season, Adam Cianciarulo earned his first top-five of the Pro Motocross championship after narrowly missing out last week with a sixth. He earned the distinction with consistent results of fifth in Moto 1 and fourth in Moto 2.
The Lawrence brothers made history last week as the first siblings to win in two Pro Motocross divisions on the same day. Fans should get accustomed to seeing this happen with some regularity as Hunter Lawrence posted identical results in Hangtown to those he had at Fox Raceway in the season opener.
In both races, Lawrence got off to a slow start in Moto 1 and had to claw his way back to the podium. He dominated Moto 2 in both rounds to earn the overall victories.
Justin Cooper did not allow Lawrence to gain much of an advantage in the Motocross points’ standings, however. Finishing second in both motos, the earned only one point less than Lawrence. His modest showing in Round 1 of the outdoor season has him 12 points out of first in the championship standings.
Haiden Deegan scored his first moto win in just his fourth start in the series. In the first race of the day, he had to withstand constant pressure from Cooper, but when his teammate closed in on him, Deegan reached down and found a little more speed. Now that he’s won one of these races, he has his sight set on challenging Lawrence for the title. Deegan is second in the Pro Motocross championship standings with a 10-point deficit to the leader.
RJ Hampshire rounded out the top five with a pair of fifth-place results and 32 points for the round. Even though the deficit is a whopping 61 points, Hampshire climbed to second in the SuperMotocross championship standings now that Jett Lawrence has moved to the big bikes.
Jalek Swoll struggled last week and finished 21st overall at Fox Raceway. This week, he finished on the cusp of 10th in both races with a ninth in Moto 1 and 11th in Moto 2. In the SuperMotocross standings, he has a lot of ground to make up. He currently sits 49th on the chart with a 70-point gap to Chance Hymas, who is on the bubble to earn a guaranteed position in the SMX Mains for the three playoff races that will be held on September.