London, Dec 16
Mercedes have decided to drop their appeal against the stewards dismissing their protests against the result of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Red Bull-Honda's driver Max Verstappen had secured a stunning victory in the controversial Formula 1 championship decider race. Both Verstappen and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton had 369.5 points coming into the race in Abu Dhabi.
Verstappen was crowned the F1 champion after a highly chaotic end to the race at the Yas Marina Circuit on December 12. Hamilton controlled the race for a large period till, on lap 53, a crash for Nicholas Latifi brought out the safety car.
With the safety car removed for the final lap, Verstappen used his fresh soft tyres to pass Hamilton into turn 5 to take the lead of the race.
He held off counter-attacks from Hamilton to win the race and his first World Drivers' Championship, with Hamilton, chasing a record-breaking eighth title, coming second and Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz Jr. finishing third.
"We left Abu Dhabi in disbelief of what we had just witnessed. Of course, it's part of the game to lose a race, but it's something different when you lose faith in racing. 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," said Mercedes in a statement posted on Twitter.
Immediately after the race ended, Mercedes had made two appeals: of Verstappen overtaking Hamilton behind the safety car and race director Michael Masi not applying safety car rules correctly, both of which were rejected.
But on Thursday, Mercedes said it had dropped the appeals with immediate effect, confirming that Verstappen will be the F1 World Champion for 2021 at the end-of-season gala ceremony.
"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 that 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."
Mercedes also offered congratulations to Verstappen and Red Bull. "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."