Verstappen victory confirmed as second Mercedes protest dismissed

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Verstappen victory confirmed as second Mercedes protest dismissed

Formula 1

Verstappen victory confirmed as second Mercedes protest dismissed

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Max Verstappen has been confirmed as the 2021 Formula 1 drivers’ world champion after the FIA dismissed Mercedes’ protests against the result of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Mercedes was unhappy at the way race director Michael Masi handled a late safety car period, allowing some cars to unlap themselves — having previously said they wouldn’t be allowed — in order to prevent them interfering with Lewis Hamilton and Verstappen on the final lap. Article 48.12 of the Sporting Regulations state “any cars that have been lapped by the leader will be required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the safety car,” but Masi only allowed those between Hamilton and Verstappen to proceed.

The same regulation also states “once the last lapped car has passed the leader the safety car will return to the pits at the end of the following lap,” but Masi called the safety car in on the same lap in order to get one final racing lap in, during which time Verstappen — on fresh soft tires — overtook Hamilton on old hards to win the race and the title.

Mercedes protested the application of the regulations, but the stewards dismissed the protest, confirming Verstappen’s victory.

The stewards decided:

“That Article 15.3 allows the Race Director to control the use of the safety car, which in our determination includes its deployment and withdrawal.

“That although Article 48.12 may not have been applied fully, in relation to the safety car returning to the pits at the end of the following lap, Article 48.13 overrides that and 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.

“That 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 Protest Deposit is not refunded.”

Mercedes immediately lodged its intention to appeal the decision.

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