Toto Wolff ‘confident’ of FIA changes as Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes’ frustrations shared

Mercedes boss hopes ‘robbed’ Lewis Hamilton will continue racing

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has admitted his confidence that FIA will make positive changes to the Formula One sporting guidelines following the controversial ending to the 2021 season. Lewis Hamilton was leading the Abu Dhabi Garnd Prix and the championship when the safety car was deployed with four laps remaining.

Nicholas Latifi’s crashed Williams was quickly cleared by the marshals, but there was then confusion about how and if the race would restart.

At first, race director Michael Masi decided that lapped cars would not be allowed to overtake, which would have effectively handed Hamilton the win.

Title challenge Max Verstappen was second but had five lapped cars between him and Hamilton, with little chance he would have been able to overtake them in time to take on the race leader.

But Masi overturned his original decision and instructed the five cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to pass the safety car, in what was an unprecedented ruling.

That paved the way for a final lap shoot-out and with Verstappen on much fresher tyres, the Red Bull driver was able to pass Hamilton to win his first ever Drivers’ Championship.

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Masi’s apparently unprecedented decision left Wolff, Mercedes and Hamilton furious, with the Silver Arrows immediately protesting the race result.

That protest was thrown out by the stewards on duty at the track, with Mercedes then announcing their intention to appeal to the FIA.

But following talks between the FIA and the teams, the German team pulled back from taking their appeal further.

Saving the FIA from the embarrassment of Mercedes potentially winning their protest appears to be assurances that the rulebook would be overhauled.

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The 10 F1 teams are set to be involved in those conversations around bringing more clarity and definitive rules to the pinnacle of motorsport.

And Wolff is confident those changes will be to everyone’s benefit and revealed his belief that the frustrations of Hamilton and Mercedes are shared by many on the grid.

“I think in this day and age of transparency, such decisions cannot be made anymore in backroom deals,” Wolff said.

“And why I am optimistic is that most stakeholders in the sport will share my frustration on the decisions that have been made all throughout the year.

“Everyone who is a racer, you guys [the media], us, knows what happened. Nevertheless, I have confidence because we will be all pulling on the same rope in the same directions.

“The teams and I have feedback from the teams and the drivers, I had assurances Peter Bayer [FIA secretary-general for motor sport] and Stefano [Domenicali – F1 CEO] that in the next weeks and months, we will close the gaps that have opened up more and more over the last few years.”

Time is running out for those changes to be implemented before the start of the new season, with pre-season testing getting underway in mid-February.

The FIA will likely have until the opening race of the season to bring in the changes, with the campaign starting with the Bahrain Grand Prix on 20 March.

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