Formula 1: Mercedes withdraws appeal against title-deciding result
Mercedes have now decided to withdraw their appeal against the controversial finish to the title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and will work with FIA to help build a better Formula 1
The end of their challenge means that Max Verstappen is now definitively 2021’s world champion. The Red Bull driver will officially be crowned for the first time in Thursday night’s FIA prize giving gala in Paris.
Hamilton missed out on a record-breaking eighth crown in the most contentious circumstances as the late withdrawal of the safety car allowed Dutchman Max Verstappen to pass him on newer tyres and claim the championship for the first time.
In their first comment about the events of last Sunday, Mercedes said they left Abu Dhabi in “disbelief of what we had just witnessed” and lodged an appeal after the race “in the interest of sporting fairness”.
After the governing body said on Wednesday night that they would work with drivers and teams to review what happened to learn lessons from 2022, Mercedes say they will “will actively work with this commission to build a better Formula 1” – while also making clear “we will hold the FIA accountable for this process”.
This development came on a day Hamilton took his mother, Carmen, to Windsor Castle as he was knighted by the Prince of Wales. While the investiture was happening, Verstappen, 24, was welcomed as the all-conquering hero at Red Bull’s factory in Milton Keynes.
Speaking ahead of the presentation of the trophy at Thursday night’s gala dinner in Paris, Verstappen’s team principal Christian Horner said: ‘The win hasn’t sunk in yet. It won’t until we see Max pick up that trophy. But as far as we’re concerned, Max is the world champion until someone says otherwise.
‘This is an issue between Mercedes and the FIA. Max has done absolutely nothing wrong. We complied with the rules. He won the race. He won the world championship. We’ve received him here as the world champion.’
In a statement, Mercedes said: “Together with Lewis, we have deliberated carefully over how to respond to the events at the Formula 1 season finale. We have always been guided by our love of this sport and we believe that every competition should be won on merit. In the race on Sunday many felt, us included, that the way things unfolded was not right.
“The reason we protested the race result on Sunday was because the Safety Car regulations were applied in a new way that affected the race result, after Lewis had been in a commanding lead and on course to win the World Championship.
“We appealed in the interest of sporting fairness, and we have since been in a constructive dialogue with the FIA and Formula 1 to create clarity for the future, so that all competitors know the rules under which they are racing, and how they will be enforced. Thus, we welcome the decision by the FIA to install a commission to thoroughly analyse what happened in Abu Dhabi and to improve the robustness of rules, governance and decision making in Formula 1. We also welcome that they have invited the teams and drivers to take part.
“The Mercedes-AMG Petronas team will actively work with this commission to build a better Formula 1 – for every team and every fan who loves this sport as much as we do. We will hold the FIA accountable for this process and we hereby withdraw our appeal.
“To Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing: we would like to express our sincere respect for your achievements this season. You made this Formula 1 Championship title fight truly epic. Max, we congratulate you and your entire team. We look forward to taking the fight to you on the track next season.