Lewis Hamilton ‘asked Toto Wolff to withdraw protests’ before FIA chose Max Verstappen
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen analysed by Coulthard
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Lewis Hamilton reportedly asked Mercedes chief Toto Wolff to withdraw their two protests following his defeat to Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. The Brit had gone into the day hoping to win the F1 Drivers’ Championship for a record eighth time. However, he was beaten to the prize in controversial circumstances with his Red Bull rival reigning supreme instead.
Hamilton was on the verge of moving ahead of Michael Schumacher in the Formula One history books with one lap to go.
Yet the Brit ended up missing out on glory, with rival Verstappen overtaking him on the final lap to claim a magnificent maiden world title victory.
It was a bitter blow for Hamilton, who had led for the majority of the race only to be overtaken during the final stages.
A late safety car seemed to change the race, with the FIA deciding that lapped cars could not unlap themselves, which allowed Verstappen to move right behind Hamilton with one lap to go.
Verstappen had fresher, superior tyres by the end and Mercedes, despite launching two protests, were left disappointed as the 24-year-old was awarded the prize by the FIA.
According to Dutch website F1 maximal, Hamilton actually asked the Silver Arrows to withdraw their protests following the epic encounter.
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Yet Mercedes appeared to press ahead with their plans to appeal anyway and, while Verstappen has now been named champion by the FIA, the backlash is set to continue in the coming days ahead.
Mercedes’ first appeal was against Verstappen for allegedly overtaking under a safety car.
And the second claimed the rules had been breached regarding race restarts following a safety car period.
It took the FIA four hours to come to a decision on Sunday, with F1 fans from around the globe enduring an anxious wait.
However, it’s Verstappen who has now made history with the Red Bull driver winning the title for the first time in his career.
Now, it’ll be curious to see whether the Dutch driver can build on this triumph – especially with so many years ahead of him.
Hamilton will be looking to bounce back next season in what could be his final campaign in the sport, with his Mercedes contract expiring in 2023.
Speaking after the events in Abu Dhabi, the Stevenage-born driver paid tribute to Verstappen – saying he’d done an ‘amazing job’.
“A big congratulations to Max and to his team,” said Hamilton.
“We did an amazing job this year. It’s been the most difficult of seasons, we gave it everything, this last part of the season, we never gave up and that’s the most important thing.”
On returning to the sport, he added: “Of course [I’ll be back]. I’ve been feeling good the past couple of months … We’ll see about next year.”
While it was agony for Hamilton, it was ecstasy for Verstappen.
Speaking after claiming the prize, the Red Bull star said: “It’s just insane – my goal when I was little was was to become a Formula One driver and you hope for wins, to be on the podium.
“When they play the national anthem you one day hope they play yours and then when you stand here and they tell you [that] you are world champion it is incredible and special.
“All the things come back through your mind throughout all the years you spent together, travelling for that goal… and everything comes together in the last lap.
“Insane, these people, my whole team, my family, my friends, the people who want to push me to where I am today. They’re all here – most of them are here. It’s just insane, I lost my voice, but yes. I don’t know, it just sounds amazing, honestly.
“It’s incredible to see all this orange here but all over the world, they’ve supported me throughout my whole career… and I hope I can do this for a very long time of course with the support of my great fans.”
On Hamilton specifically, the new F1 champion added: “Lewis is an amazing driver, an amazing competitor, he really made it really hard for us and everybody loves to see that.
“Of course the two teams run against each other and we have tough times but I think that’s part of the sport, it’s emotion, everyone wants to win.
“It could have gone either way today but for sure next year we’ll try again, come back, and hopefully do it all over again.”
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