Stewards reject both Mercedes protests following Verstappen title victory
Max Verstappen is (officially) the world champion
Mercedes have had both of their protests rejected by Formula One stewards after Max Verstappen controversially won the F1 Drivers' Championship with victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
— Formula 1 (@F1) December 12, 2021
The constructors launched two protests after the race, the first of which was against Verstappen for 'breach of Article 48.8 of the 2021 FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations'.
The first protest - against the Dutchman himself - related to the Red Bull driver allegedly overtaking Lewis Hamilton before the restart of the race when the safety car was still on the track.
FIA stated that pictures appeared inconclusive and deemed it inadmissible, therefore throwing the protest out.
As per Sky Sports, the official verdict of the first protest was:
Red Bull argued that Car 44 was not “overtaken” by Car 33, that both cars were “on and off the throttle” and that there were “a million precedents” under Safety Car where cars had pulled alongside then moved back behind the Car that was in front.
Conclusions of the Stewards: The Stewards consider that the protest is admissible. Having considered the various statements made by the parties. The Stewards determine that although Car 33 did at one stage, for a very short period of time, move slightly in front of Car 44, at a time when both cars where accelerating and braking, it moved back behind Car 44 and it was not in front when the Safety Car period ended (i.e. at the line).
The second protest related to the decision to allow the lapped cars to be overtaken, which ultimately played a significant role in Verstappen - who was racing on new tyres - being able to overtake the Brit and win his first world championship.
As per Sky Sports, the official verdict of the second protest was:
Having considered the various statements made by the parties the Stewards determine the following:
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.
— Rachel Brookes (@RachelBrookesTV) December 12, 2021
Christian Horner to Sky Sports News: "Its's disappointing we had to go through that. It's been an amazing year, I'm proud of Max and the whole team. He's the world champion and the deserving world champion."
It is now expected that Mercedes could choose to appeal the decision, with an option to go to the FIA's Court of Appeal in place.
However, there is a cut-off for that appeal to be made and it would have to be submitted before Thursday, which is the FIA Prize Giving ceremony where the trophy is handed over to the world champion.
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