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Everything at stake as F1 prepares to hear FIA Abu Dhabi report

Everything at stake as F1 prepares to hear FIA Abu Dhabi report

Everything at stake as F1 prepares to hear FIA Abu Dhabi report

Everything at stake as F1 prepares to hear FIA Abu Dhabi report

The Formula 1 Commission will meet today to hear the findings of an FIA inquiry into the events of last year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with the futures of Lewis Hamilton and race director Michael Masi in the balance.

The conclusion of the 2021 season left a bitter taste in the mouth for F1 fans with the championship decided by a last-lap shootout between Max Verstappen and seven-time champion Hamilton.

The dash to the line came as the result of a safety car period caused by the crash of Nicholas Latifi.

In order to resume racing and not end the championship behind the safety car, it appeared that Masi chose to ignore certain protocols relating to the withdrawal of the vehicle from the circuit, a move that sparked fury from Mercedes and fans of the sport.

After a two-month review, F1 will finally hear the conclusions drawn today.

What has the FIA investigated?

The investigation has largely centred around the aforementioned withdrawal of the safety car and whether proper regulations were followed.

A quick glance at article 48.12 of the F1 sporting regulations paints an unfortunate picture for Masi as it states that "once the last lapped car has passed the leader the safety car will return to the pits at the end of the following lap."

As witnessed at Yas Marina, after a number of cars were permitted to unlap themselves, racing started on the following lap rather than the safety car completing an additional tour.

Masi was supported by the stewards as having an "overriding authority" to control the safety car and its actions but this did nothing to calm feelings.

Radio messages from the period shared between Red Bull and Masi have since come to light with team principal Christian Horner and sporting director Jonathan Wheatley lobbying for the race to resume.

In a clip that recently resurfaced, Masi could be heard closely repeating a phrase said to him by Wheatley when in communication with Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.

Although Mercedes elected against following through with its appeal against the result, Wolff vowed to hold the FIA accountable, expecting to see "actions" and not just "words".

The report will determine if Masi followed the proper processes, if he was unduly influenced by outside sources and whether he is up to the job of being the F1 race director.

Could Masi go?

Masi has taken a pounding in the court of public opinion with many on social media calling for him to be replaced.

The Australian, however, has found support among the drivers with Lando Norris one of a number giving him their backing.

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In a recent interview, though, FIA head of single-seater matters Peter Bayer revealed the possibility Masi could be replaced ahead of the new season despite conceding he 'doesn't want to lose him'.

A possible outcome is that if Masi remains in situ, he will be granted a larger support network around him similar to that enjoyed by previous race director Charlie Whiting.

Hamilton - What happens next?

Hamilton may have announced that he is "back" on social media recently, but his participation in the coming season is as unclear as that of Masi.

In the aftermath of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Wolff declared the events had left both Hamilton and he "disillusioned" by F1.

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Hamilton has been confirmed as being part of the Mercedes W13 launch on Friday but Mercedes is yet to formally comment on the driver's future with all previous indications linking the matter closely to the outcome of the FIA report.

Although it appears extremely likely Hamilton will continue, it is still not beyond the realms of possibility he will decide to call time on his glittering career if the report is not to his liking.

Such a decision would prove damning for the FIA and would lead to further questions being asked with regard to the integrity of the governing body.

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