Nico Rosberg calls for F1 rule changes after Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen drama

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The many controversies of the 2021 F1 title race have highlighted the sport’s need to make some of its rules more clear, according to Nico Rosberg. The 2016 champion said the sport’s rulemakers have “an opportunity” to stamp their authority over the winter break in a bid to try to reduce the amount of controversy next season.

2021 will forever be remembered by F1 fans for the incredibly close-fought contest between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

But the brilliant racing has been marred somewhat by several flashpoints as tensions threatened to boil over.

The crashes were the obvious moments of note, but there were also several occasions where drivers seemed to bend the rules as much as they could to gain an advantage.

One such moment came in Brazil when Verstappen was accused of running off the track on purpose to push Hamilton very wide and prevent the Briton from overtaking him.

Another came during the first lap of the season finale in Abu Dhabi, when Hamilton appeared to gain an advantage by using a run-off area while Verstappen followed the chicane and lost time.

Both those incidents went unpunished, while there were several other moments of note including illegal weaving to prevent an overtake and aggressive manoeuvres during corners.

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In order to prevent more of the same next season, Rosberg believes new FIA president Mohammed Bin Sulayem should act quickly to tighten the rules.

“The sport needs to make progress,” the German told Sky Sports. “It starts even with all the overtaking, the wheel-to-wheel action.

“The FIA needs to tighten all that up so that we don’t have all these discussions.

“It would be better for the sport if it was much easier to understand. Also in wheel-to-wheel racing – who is now right and wrong, what needs to be done. A quick decision is made, and we go on.

“We need to get rid of all these discussions, that’s important.”

The FIA has come under intense scrutiny following the events of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix earlier this month, during which the title race was decided in controversial circumstances.

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Race director Michael Masi has been widely criticised for his operation of the safety car, which Mercedes said was against the sporting regulations and led to Hamilton’s final lap despair.

Masi had fast-tracked the end of the safety car period so racing could resume for the last lap, giving the advantage to Verstappen and his new, soft tyres.

Chief Toto Wolff was livid that the racing was allowed to resume for the final lap, and equally baffled over Masi’s decision to let the backmarkers between Verstappen and Hamilton un-lap themselves, while others behind the Dutchman were not allowed to.

Mercedes backed down on their official appeal last week after outgoing FIA president Jean Todt committed the governing body to investigating what had happened and making changes ahead of the 2022 season.

The Silver Arrows said they would be holding the FIA to account to make sure this process is carried out and that changes are made which will benefit F1 going forward.

Wolff said: “Why I am optimistic is that most stakeholders in the sport will share my frustration on the decisions that have been made throughout the year.

“Everyone who is a racer, you guys, us, knows what happened. So nevertheless, I have confidence because we will all be pulling on the same rope in the same direction.

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

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