Mercedes has lodged a protest against Max Verstappen and the classification of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after Lewis Hamilton lost the drivers’ championship on the final lap.
Hamilton was leading comfortably when there was a late safety car period that allowed Verstappen to pit for soft tires and rejoin behind a queue of lapped cars in second place. With little time before the race could restart, race control originally said no lapped cars would be allowed to overtake in order to allow a racing lap to be completed, but later told the cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to pass the safety car in order to let them fight on the final lap.
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Verstappen put pressure on Hamilton waiting to restart and at one stage appeared to edge ahead of the Mercedes in the final sector before the safety car line, while he then managed to overtake his rival on the final lap to secure his first championship in dramatic fashion.
Mercedes lodged two protests within the required 30 minutes after the race, with the first relating to Verstappen’s driving behind the safety car, as the sporting regulations state “no driver may overtake another car on the track, including the safety car, until he passes the (safety car line) for the first time after the safety car has returned to the pits.”
The second protest relates to the way the race was restarted, as Article 39.12 states “any cars that have been lapped by the leader will be required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the safety car,” or no cars are allowed to overtake.
Hamilton has not emerged from Mercedes to speak to the media since the race finished, while Verstappen has been doing all of the usual post-race world champion commitments.