SAKHIR, Bahrain -- The FIA has said "human error" contributed to the controversial finish at last year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix but insisted former race director Michael Masi acted in good faith throughout.
A report into the final laps of the race was presented to the FIA's World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) on Saturday, which came to the conclusion that the result of the championship was "valid" and "cannot now be changed".
Masi incorrectly applied the safety car procedure at the end of the title decider between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi. His actions, which were taken to prevent the race finishing behind the safety car, set up a one-lap sprint finish that helped Verstappen catch and pass Hamilton on the final lap.
In rushing the restart procedure in Abu Dhabi, certain parts of the FIA rulebook were either overlooked or ignored, including an inconsistency in the communications to lapped cars to unlap themselves before the restart.
The message was only displayed to the five cars between Hamilton and Verstappen rather than all lapped cars. It was this miscommunication that was described as "human error" by the WMSC, explaining that the messages to the cars were sent manually rather than by an automated system.
However, exactly how the "error" came about and why it happened when several teams and drivers believed at the time that all lapped cars would be allowed to overtake was not communicated.
Masi also restarted the race a lap earlier than the rules say, which provided Verstappen with the opportunity to pass Hamilton for the lead on the final lap and win the title.
The report pointed to pressure from teams via radio communications as a reason for Masi's actions as well as a desire to comply with an informal agreement within the sport not to end the race behind the safety car.
It added that the rules regarding the safety car restart procedure were open to interpretation and should be clarified.
Masi has since been removed from the position of race director and the FIA has promised to provide more support to his replacements, including a Video Assistant Referee-style review system.
It has also clarified its rules on safety car restarts to say "all" unlapped cars must unlap themselves before a race can resume, rather than "any".
The WMSC confirmed software has now been developed to automate the messages to cars to unlap themselves prior to a safety car restart "due to the fact that manual interventions generally carry a higher risk of human error".