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Zak Brown “disappointed” by timeline of FIA’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix investigation

Zak Brown is “disappointed” the FIA’s investigation into Abu Dhabi will drag on until the day track action for the 2022 season begins.

The FIA are in the process of carrying out a study into the controversial events of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that resulted in Max Verstappen being crowned World Champion.

Their probe centres upon the role of race director Michael Masi, how he presided over a Safety Car period which ended with leader Lewis Hamilton just ahead of second-placed Max Verstappen on the road after five lapped cars in between them had been cleared out of the way.

With much fresher tyres on his Red Bull, Verstappen got past Hamilton to take the race win and the title. Mercedes were raging at Masi, failing with two protests on the day and then backing out of pursuing an appeal process which they believed was stacked against them.

Just before that decision was announced, the FIA had revealed their intention to investigate.

The findings will be presented at an F1 Commission meeting on February 14 and once everything has been ratified, approved for public consumption at the World Motor Sport Council meeting on March 18 in Bahrain – the first day of practice for the 2022 season-opening grand prix.

Along with many F1 fans, Brown, the McLaren Racing CEO, is baffled as to why the FIA are leaving it until the new season’s action is getting under way before finally drawing a line under what happened last year.

“The only thing I’m a little bit disappointed about is we might share those results at the first race of the year,” said Brown, quoted by Sky Sports.

“It doesn’t take that long to do an investigation. Let’s get it done, let’s go to the first race of the year talking about the first race of the year – not the last race of last year.”

But amid the fall-out from events in Abu Dhabi, which the FIA admitted were “tarnishing the image of the championship”, Brown believes the sport’s reputation can be restored.

“It can definitely regain its credibility,” said the 50-year-old Californian. “It’s not the first time we’ve had an ump[ire] or a referee make a controversial call.

“This one happened to be pretty big. But I think the sport will have learned by it.”

Former FIA president Jean Todt, meanwhile, whose 12-year reign in his role ended days after the Abu Dhabi GP as he had served the maximum three terms, said he had been in touch with Masi to offer support in the wake of the stinging criticism the Australian had received.

“I’ve been speaking with him, not specifically about what happened in Abu Dhabi but about him as a human being,” said the Frenchman.

“I hope he will be okay.”

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