Mercedes submit their plan to appeal AGAIN after Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Mercedes submit their plan to appeal AGAIN after the FIA rejected initial protest over final lap safety car decision in Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in which Max Verstappen pipped Lewis Hamilton to the F1 world title

  • Mercedes filed a protest over the finale to Sunday night’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 
  • Max Verstappen clinched the F1 title ahead of Lewis Hamilton on the final lap
  • Mercedes took issue with the application of the safety car procedure
  • Mercedes protest over two complaints was rejected but the team will appeal

Mercedes have made yet another appeal to the FIA following Max Verstappen’s victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after their initial protest was rejected late on Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton’s team filed a complaint to the racing board over two stewarding calls made in the final laps of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which saw Red Bull’s Verstappen clinch the F1 world championship in the dying moments. 

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was livid with race director Michael Masi’s management over the removal of the safety car, which was deployed because of Williams driver Nicholas Latifi’s crash.  

Mercedes will appeal to the FIA again after their initial protest of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix result (above) was rejected

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was livid with the FIA’s Michael Masi over the team radio

‘No Mike! That was so not right!’ Wolff yelled down the team radio at Masi after he decided to remove the safety car. 

Wolff and Mercedes claim the rules were not applied correctly regarding lapped cars being allowed to unlap themselves when Masi removed the safety car with one lap to go to allow the race to finish as a contest. 

As a result, Mercedes lodged two protests against Articles 48.8 and 48.12 in the F1 rulebook, which both deal with the issue of the safety car – but both protests were rejected by the FIA around four hours after Verstappen reached the chequered flag.

But Mercedes have not given up on their fight to get the result amended, after announcing they will appeal one of the rejected protests regarding the safety car.

F1 race director Masi overturned his decision to keep lapped cars inbetween Hamilton (second left) and Verstappen ahead of the final lap

Verstappen (right) overtook Hamilton (left) on the last lap of the winner-takes-all Abu Dhabi GP

‘We have lodged our intention to appeal Document 58 / the decision of the stewards to dismiss the team’s protest,’ said a Mercedes spokesperson after the race on Sunday. 

Article 48.8 says ‘no driver may overtake another car on the track, including the safety car, until he passes the Line (see Article 5.3) for the first time after the safety car has returned to the pits.’

Meanwhile, Article 48.12 says that ‘any cars that have been lapped by the leader will be required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the safety car.’ 

Regarding the first article, Verstappen looked to pull up alongside Hamilton approaching Turn 12 on lap 57, ahead of the race restarting on lap 58 – the final one.

Verstappen (right) crossed the line before Hamilton (left) to take his first ever Formula One title

And for the second argument made by Mercedes, Race Control told Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel to pass the safety car ahead of the drama-filled restart.

However, Daniel Ricciardo, Lance Stroll and Mick Schumacher were not given the same instruction.

Article 48.12 also says: ‘Unless the clerk of the course considers the presence of the safety car is still necessary, once the last lapped car has passed the leader the safety car will return to the pits at the end of the following lap.’ 

Despite Mercedes’ protests, the race stewards for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix threw out both of their appeals.

Mercedes lodged a protest over two aspects of the race which they believe unfairly allowed Verstappen (right) to beat (Hamilton)

Regarding Verstappen overtaking Hamilton under the safety car, the Stewards determine that although Verstappen did at one stage, for a very short period of time, move slightly in front of Hamilton, at a time when both cars where accelerating and braking, he moved back behind the Brit, and it was not in front when the Safety Car period ended.

Regarding the deployment of the safety car, the stewards ruled that Article 15.3 allows the race director to control the use of the safety car.

They also stated that Article 48.12 was not applied fully, in relation to the safety car returning to pits at end of following lap, 48.13 overrides it. Once message ‘safety car in this lap is’ displayed, it is mandatory to withdraw safety car at the end of the lap

Mercedes’ requested that stewards to change the classification to reflect the positions at the end of the penultimate lap but this is a step that the stewards believe is effectively shortening the race retrospectively, and hence not appropriate. 

The FIA, who race director Masi (above) works for, threw out Mercedes’ two appeals

Speaking after the race, Red Bull principal Christian Horner admitted that Verstappen got some fortune with the safety car, but that Masi made the right call to remove it for the final lap, in contrast to Wolff.

‘Of course he (Wolff) will obviously do that (disagree). But it’s unheard of to leave the cars unlapped,’ Horner told Sky Sports.

‘You could see they wanted to get the race going again but they don’t need to catch up the back of the paddock so they made absolutely the right call. 

‘(They were) Difficult circumstances for the stewards, we’re all putting pressure on them, but they called it right.’

Mercedes had just 30 minutes after the close of the race to file the protest, as per Formula One rules.  

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