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Mercedes Lodges Protest After Max Verstappen's Controversial F1 Title Victory

Jess Hardiman

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Mercedes Lodges Protest After Max Verstappen's Controversial F1 Title Victory

Mercedes has lodged two protests against the result of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which saw Belgian-Dutch driver Max Verstappen crowned champion after a safety car came on to deal with Nicholas Latifi’s crash.

The Formula One World Championship came to a dramatic end when Verstappen took the lead at the last minute.

Lewis Hamilton had been up front for almost all of the race, but was overtaken on the final lap by his opponent. 

He had been on the same tyres since lap 14, while Belgian-Dutch driver Max Verstappen had fresh tyres introduced late on in the race. The safety car allowed one final lap of racing and Verstappen's fresh tyres proved to make the difference.  

Despite Hamilton getting into the slipstream, Verstappen managed to block it off and take home the win and his first championship. 

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

The controversial result has prompted Mercedes - Hamilton's team - to lodge two protests with the FIA over both the restart and the result: one relating to Verstappen undertaking under the safety car; another relating to the safety car procedure itself, and why only a certain number of lapped cars were allowed to pass by before the restart.

Motorsport reports that the first protest surrounds Article 48.8 of the sporting regulations, which 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'.

The second protest is based on Article 48.12, which states 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'.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

After Verstappen was crowned victor, many people took to social media to express their confusion.

Piers Morgan tweeted: "I don't know what I've just watched but it can't be right. Hamilton's been robbed, surely?"

Someone else said: "Formula 1 is a big load of b*****ks really isn't it. Hamilton leading by 11 seconds, bloke crashes, safety car for 9 laps, Max suddenly side by side and wins on the last lap. What on earth have I just seen? Lewis robbed."

A third raged: "Hamilton robbed. The FIA's decision to allow the restart in this way was just ridiculous."

Even Verstappen’s father Jos has noted the role of the safety car in his son's win.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

“I’m very proud,” he told Sky Sports. 

“I mean, of course, because of the safety car we are in this situation.” 

He added: “The team had a good stretch... I mean, they’re doing a lot of things very good and I think Max was the driver this year and he really deserved this championship.” 

Hamilton had come incredibly close to winning his eighth world championship, which would've seen him overtake Michael Schumacher's record of seven.

Speaking to Sky Sports, he said: "Firstly congratulations to Max and to his team. I think we did an amazing job this year. My team, everyone back at the factory, have worked so hard this whole year, it's been the most difficult of seasons. 

"I'm so proud of them and I'm so grateful to be a part of the journey with them. 

"This last part of the season we gave it absolutely everything and we never gave up." 

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: News, Sport, Formula 1

Jess Hardiman
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