Mercedes have lodged a protest with the FIA over two alleged breaches of Formula 1 regulations during the closing stages of Max Verstappen’s victory over Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes have lodged an official protest with the FIA after Max Verstappen defeated Lewis Hamilton to win the Formula One championship at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Toto Wolff’s team contested the final classification over two alleged breaches of the 2021 FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.
Mercedes believe Verstappen failed to adhere to Article 48.8, stating no driver may overtake during a safety car, during a yellow flag in the closing stages of the race.
They were also aggrieved about the safety car procedure, as a number of lapped drivers separating Verstappen and Hamilton were allowed to pass, presenting the Red Bull driver with a clear run at the Brit on the final lap.
Mercedes principal Wolff refused to speak to the press in the immediate aftermath of the Grand Prix as his team dissected F1 rules and subsequently launched their protest.
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Race director Michael Masi had initially prevented the five lapped cars from overtaking the safety car, prompting a bitter reaction from Red Bull boss Christian Horner.
However, he changed his stance some minutes later and Verstappen emerged on Hamilton’s tail as the safety car withdrew in time for one racing lap, during which the 24-year-old passed his great rival on a fresh set of soft tyres.
Regardless of the outcome of Mercedes’ protest, the incident at Yas Marina will be talked about for years to come as the divisive climax of an enthralling title battle between two phenomenal drivers.
David Coulthard admitted stewards are facing a “really difficult decision” as they weigh up the formal complaint laid at their door.
“This is a complex sport. None of us like the decisions taking place in the stewards room when the champagne has been popped,” the former Williams, McLaren and Red Bull driver told Channel 4.
“In hindsight, could the stewards have done a tidier job? Yes. Has there been something played out which is controversial? Yes. This is a really difficult decision.”
Mark Webber echoed these comments as he questioned the decision making of race coordinators.
“We never knew the last lap was going to be so dramatic,” the Australian added. “It was like taking a knife to a gunfight in terms of tyres, but Max got the job done.
“At the end of the day though, the refereeing and stewarding was really hard for the teams to understand.
“There was a lot of emotion everywhere today and they started to get frazzled on what the right things was to do to get the win. Emotion got the better of everyone today.”
Mercedes now face a nervous wait to learn the outcome of their protest.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.