Formula 1: Controversy: Mercedes protests dismissed

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates –

Mercedes lost both of its rallies after Lewis Hamilton lost the Formula One world championship to Max Verstappen on the final lap of the final race at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ending the season on Sunday.

After losing the case, Mercedes applied to the International Court of Appeal for reconsideration.

Verstappen overtook Hamilton on lap 58 in suspenseful style after a crash involving Nicholas Latifi sent the safety car out just a few laps and confusion surrounded the restart.

One of the failed objections was whether Verstappen had broken the rules by passing Hamilton before the safety car time had ended, as they were jostling each other to wait for the restart.

“Although Vehicle 33 (Verstappen) did at one stage, in a very short period of time, move slightly in front of Vehicle 44 (Hamilton), at the moment both cars when accelerating and braking it would reverse. behind Vehicle 44,” concluded the warden. “It wasn’t ahead when the Safety Car time ended (ie at the line). Accordingly, the Protest was disbanded.”

The other outcry concerns the restart procedure itself and the overwhelming number of cars overtaking safety cars, which have been given the green light to do so.

Of the ranked drivers, only Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel passed – those five drivers were originally between Hamilton and Verstappen – while Daniel Ricciardo, Lance Stroll and Mick Schumacher did not. Are not.

Mercedes argued that Hamilton would win the race if all passed the safety car in the allotted time, making the final lap impossible. Stewards ruled that made no difference as the other three did not interfere with the outcome of the race, and race director Michael Masi also had the right to “control the safe use of the vehicle” in this case.

Before Latifi’s collision, Hamilton was at number 8 in the world.

There was already a virtual safety car deployed earlier in the race for a smaller crash, but this time the real car showed up with little time left to get rid of Latifi’s car and clear the debris. broke off the track.

Verstappen’s Red Bull team decided to switch him to new tyres while Mercedes stayed to keep his spot on the track. But it ultimately left Hamilton to Verstappen’s mourning with new tires that were a lot faster than Hamilton’s fading, slower ones. They were going to get him over the line, but in the end they couldn’t hold Verstappen at all.

Initially, the decision was made not to let the cars pass safely, which meant some drivers would get in Verstappen’s way on restart and make it difficult to reach Hamilton in a lap more difficult.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was in radio contact with Masi at the time and said “(But) we only need one lap” to finish the race correctly.

Masi then reversed the call to allow the cars to overturn and set that final lap.

“When things are clear, you have to clear the track, so that’s a logical point from the race direction,” Verstappen said after the race agreed.

Verstappen made his pass on the fifth inning and Hamilton had a final hit. He pulled his Mercedes even with Red Bull but couldn’t clear it. Verstappen became the first Dutch world champion and thwarted Hamilton’s attempt to disqualify Michael Schumacher as the most successful driver in F1 history.

The finish angered Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, who demanded “the last lap be restored.”

But Masi was sure in his answer.

“Toto, it’s called a motor race,” he said. “We went to car racing.”

The other objection was the way Verstappen drove before the race started again. He went right with Hamilton near the end of Round 57 and took a slight lead in Round 58.

The regulations state that “no driver may overtake another vehicle on the track, including a safety vehicle, until he has crossed the line for the first time after the safety vehicle has returned to the pit.”

Mercedes protested their protests for a period of 30 minutes after the race.

The team said it would “not make any further comment on the details of that until the hearing is conducted.”

“We are very disappointed that there has been an outcry, but we have confidence in the FIA,” Horner said.

Verstappen was also asked to comment on Mercedes’ protest decision.

“Not really much to say about it, it also sums up the season a bit,” said Verstappen, who in previous races has expressed frustration at some of the penalties that have been handed out against him – including both in the final race in Saudi Arabia. .

He responded with sarcasm with his original decision not to allow crushed cars to pass the safety vehicle.

“Of course, I’m not surprised,” Verstappen said with an air of resignation.

Minutes later, he overtook Hamilton on his way to glory.

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