Just four hours after crossing the finish line, it was clear, at least immediately, that there would be a definitive race result with Max Verstappen as the winner and new world champion. However, Mercedes immediately made it clear that at least one of the appeals that were rejected by the race hosts will be pursued. In any case, the usual media conversations with the drivers and team boss Toto Wolff failed. She added that for the time being nothing else will be announced.
Mercedes has until Thursday to appeal the rejected protests after the controversial Formula 1 final. A spokesperson confirmed Monday that the team will have 96 hours. In the FIA disciplinary and legal system, the deadline is regulated by Article 10.3.1a.
But at Red Bull, they haven’t wavered in comments – particularly criticism of Mercedes. “It is not befitting of the World Cup final that the decision is so long overdue. But this speaks of a losing position that is not worthy if you make such objections and protests,” said motorsport advisor Helmut Marko in Abu Dhabi.
The fact that there could be consequences at all is due to the complex regulations of Formula 1. The fact that it has repeatedly led to discussions was also made clear by the reasons given by the four race hosts Gary Connelly, Felix Holter, Derek Warwick and Mohammed Al-Hashemi, with whom they organized the failed rally. Notably, they also took advantage of Red Bull’s arguments that the team was the third party affected in the session.
Above all, the interpretation of the terms “any” and “all” in the English-language set of rules caused discussions because only five cars instead of eight were allowed to return before the end of the safety car phase. The big question was also whether Article 48.13 could override Article 48.12 and that Article 15.3 also gave the race director the “overriding power” to use the safety car. This didn’t make it to the pits at the end of the next lap, as it usually is, but on the last lap I re-race.
Australian race director Michael Massey, who was criticized a week ago for publicly broadcasting bazaar-like events over the radio, argued that there had been an agreement with the teams for a long time not to finish racing behind the safety car. This would have been the case if Bernd Maylander had only driven the safety car into the pits, according to the regulation, one lap after being ordered to restart the race. This was the reason why Massey finally launched the race again.
Criticism of new Mercedes driver Russell
Of course, criticism of how the World Cup ended has come mainly from Hamilton’s homeland. “This is unacceptable,” Williams driver George Russell, who will be Hamilton’s new teammate at Mercedes in 2022, tweeted. Oddly enough, Russell’s teammate Nicholas Latifi, of all things, caused his final mayhem with six laps to go, ultimately leading to the race’s controversial result that was in Hamilton’s favour.
“Max is a great driver, I have nothing but respect for him,” said Russell. The 22-year-old changed “but what happened is totally unacceptable”. “I can’t believe what we just lived through.” Former world champion Damon Hill was also crucial. “This is a new way of guiding the sport with these customized decisions by the race management,” said the Briton.
Various media coverage
In England, where the last race of the season was shown on public television because of Hamilton, the decision attracted wide circles. Even soccer star Harry Kane has come to the conclusion that the title has been stolen from Hamilton. I am not an expert. But some strange rules seem to have brought an unfair advantage. The Tottenham star asked why Hamilton should be punished for another driver’s crash? “Lewis did a perfect race under high pressure and then robbed him of the world championship. It’s a shame it ended like this.”
Commentaries in English newspapers matched this – especially in the Boulevard sector. “Formula 1 gave the world what it wanted. But in doing so, the sport seemed to reflect the notion of fairness, justice and equal opportunity. He flipped the rulebook a bit and decided the title in terms of drama and promised spectacle,” says the Daily Mail. The Sun witnessed the “biggest controversy in F1 history”: “It appears that the safety car has pulled the carpet from under Hamilton’s feet.” To the moderate Guardian, Verstappen’s title was still “a bit questionable”.
Outside the UK, the decision was seen as less controversial. “World champion Verstappen upsets the legend of Hamilton. In a wonderful and unique finale, Max Lewis bites the dust, who is still without a record over Schumacher, and analyzes the Spanish ‘Marca’. The French ‘L’Equipe’ testified that Hamilton’s wing cracked. After 2016 against Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton lost another final, this time against Max Verstappen. Proof that Britain is neither infallible nor invincible.”
Triumph in “Model Max Style”
The conditions for Verstappen’s tenth and decisive win this season also fall objectively into the “happiness” category. Under normal racing conditions, the 24-year-old had no chance of winning after his poor start when Hamilton just passed. Red Bull tried everything and dragged his team-mate ‘Joker’ when Sergio Perez stayed out longer before changing the tire to slow Hamilton. It worked. Verstappen came but couldn’t do anything after Hamilton won the fight with Perez.
But the attack on the last lap matched the defending champion in 2021. “He did it in typical Max style,” commented team boss Christian Horner. Verstappen showed his nerves of steel in the critical situation, seized the unexpected opportunity and drove on the much faster tires he put in during the safety car stage to win ahead of Hamilton. Until Massey’s last-minute decision, he had better control of the race.
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