Mercedes lodged two official protests with the FIA over two alleged breaches of Formula One regulations after Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to the title in Abu Dhabi
Toto Wolff’s team launched two official complaints with governing body the FIA over alleged breaches of the sport’s rules in the closing stages of the race at Yas Marina.
Verstappen, 24, claimed victory on the final lap after a safety car saw Hamilton, 36, lose his commanding lead and allowed the Dutchman to change onto fresh soft tyres before passing.
Mercedes believed Verstappen was guilty of overtaking momentarily while there was a yellow flag, while they were also furious with race stewards for allowing the lapped cars which had been separating him and Hamilton to pass the safety car.
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The first protest, relating to Verstappen allegedly overtaking Hamilton behind the safety car, was dismissed on Sunday evening, prompting cheers to erupt from the Red Bull garage.
An FIA statement reads: “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.”
The two rivals produced one of the all-time great F1 seasons and their final showdown in the Middle East lived up to expectations.
However, there was still a huge amount of drama to come as Mercedes team principal Wolff and his Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner held talks with stewards following the protest.
Mercedes reportedly took a barrister into their meeting, while Horner emerged after 40 minutes locked in discussions.
Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Former F1 world champion Damon Hill offered a damning verdict on the saga and pointed the finger at the stewards, led by race director Michael Masi.
“A lot of not very happy people. And a lot of very happy people,” Hill tweeted. “This is a new way of running the sport where the Race Director can make these ad hoc decisions. Its been a bit too ‘guess what I’m going to do now’ I think.”
Meanwhile, David Coulthard told Channel 4: “How else was this going to end when the stakes are so high? Sadly, if it’s decided by three stewards, a drivers’ steward and a load of lawyers that will leave a sour taste for me. It’s not about their performances as drivers.”