The FIA have dismissed Mercedes’ protests over events at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, after a late Safety Car was called in a dramatic finale, with the team later lodging their intention to appeal the decision. Verstappen is World Champion.
A document released by the FIA on Sunday night read: “Article 15.3 allows the Race Director to control the use of the safety car, which in our determination includes its deployment and withdrawal.
“Although Article 48.12 may not have been applied fully, in relation to the safety car returning to the pits at the end of the following lap, Article 48.13 overrides that and once the message ‘Safety Car in this lap’ has been displayed, it is mandatory to withdraw the safety car at the end of that lap.
“That notwithstanding Mercedes’ request that the Stewards remediate the matter by amending the classification to reflect the positions at the end of the penultimate lap, this is a step that the Stewards believe is effectively shortening the race retrospectively, and hence not appropriate.
“Accordingly, the Protest is dismissed.”
The FIA had just previously denied Mercedes’ protest over an alleged overtake made by Verstappen over Hamilton under the Safety Car.
A statement from a Mercedes spokesperson just after the decision was made announced the team’s intention to appeal the decision. The team have 72 hours to decide whether to appeal fully.
December 12, 2021
Mercedes has officially lodged two protests against the result of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, in which Max Verstappen claimed victory and the World Championship. The protests were lodged within the required 30-minute time window after the race.
Confusion occurred when the FIA initially told un-lapped cars to remain in position, but moments before the Safety Car peeled off into the pits, the notice for lapped cars to overtake was given, but only to those between Hamilton and Verstappen.
Race control gave the order for five lapped cars – Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel – to pass the safety car ahead of the restart, but Daniel Ricciardo, Lance Stroll and Mick Schumacher were not given the same call.
That meant several other un-lapped cars remained in position. But so what? Even if they let all the cars past, the result would have been the same between Hamilton and Verstappen.
Article 48.12 of the Sporting Regulations stipulates 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.”
“Once the last lapped car has passed the leader the safety car will return to the pits at the end of the following lap.”
The Safety Car came into the pits at the end of the same lap rather than the following lap because Race Control wanted to give the fans a race, not a parade, to the finish.
A second protest has been issued in relation to Article 48.8, which stipulates that a car cannot overtake the Safety Car, or lead car, prior to the Safety Car line. Verstappen was seen to have pulled alongside Hamilton during the restart and nudged ahead of his rival at one point.
“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.”
Oh God Help us. Verstappen pulled alongside, but did Verstappen pass Hamilton? No.
Was he behind Hamilton at the restart? Yes.
Mercedes will lose that argument, but Verstappen might get a monetary fine.
A spokesperson from Mercedes told the media: “As has no doubt been reported, we lodged a formal protest within the required 30-minute time window after the end of the race. We will not make any further comment on the detail of that until the hearing has been conducted.”
Meanwhile, Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner said: “We are disappointed there has been a protest, but we trust in the FIA.”
December 12, 2021