Mercedes intend to appeal after stewards reject Abu Dhabi protests

By Sports Desk December 12, 2021

Mercedes have lodged an intention to appeal against the stewards' decision to reject their protests over Max Verstappen's dramatic title-clinching Abu Dhabi Grand Prix victory.

Verstappen claimed his maiden Formula One world title in the most dramatic fashion at the Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday after overtaking Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of a decisive last race of the season.

Hamilton was on the brink of being crowned champion for a record eighth time when he built a healthy lead until the safety car was deployed with four laps to go after Nicholas Latifi crashed.

Verstappen pitted to have fresh tyres fitted and had his last chance to win the race – and the championship – when race director Michael Masi ruled lapped cars in between the top two could overtake the safety car, which headed in and allowed one final lap of racing.

The Dutchman passed a stunned Hamilton, with Masi explaining to furious Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff: "We went car racing."

Mercedes launched a formal protest "against the classification established at the end of the competition" as Red Bull basked in the glory of their sensational triumph.

The Silver Arrows complained that Verstappen may have briefly edged in front of Hamilton, who had position as the lead car, behind the safety car and also protested over how rules were applied concerning when lapped cars can overtake under safety-car conditions.

While race stewards accepted Verstappen had "for a very short period of time" moved slightly ahead of Hamilton, they were satisfied that he dropped back behind the leader before the safety car period ended.

The second part of the appeal was also rejected by the stewards, but Mercedes will take the matter further.

A team statement said: "We have lodged notice of intention to appeal the decision of the stewards under Article 15 of the Sporting Code and Article 10 of the Judicial and Disciplinary Rule."

The stewards had declared that "once the message 'safety car in this lap' has been displayed, it is mandatory to withdraw the safety car at the end of that lap" and "notwithstanding Mercedes' request that the stewards remediate the matter by amending the classification to reflect the positions at the end of the penultimate lap, this is a step that the stewards believe is effectively shortening the race retrospectively, and hence not appropriate".

"Accordingly, the protest is dismissed," the stewards added.

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