December 12, 2021 will be a memorable day for Formula 1, for better or for worse. A championship full of emotions and twists both on and off the track ends in the most unpredictable way possible. And it may not be over yet.
Mercedes announced two protests it has lodged with the FIA after today’s dramatic Abu Dhabi GP, which saw Max Verstappen snatch the world title from Lewis Hamilton after a controversial safety car decision by race director Michael Masi.
Hamilton looked to have the race and title sewn up in the closing stages as he maintained a 12sec gap over the Dutchman, his superior pace on race day meaning Red Bull’s attempts at alternate tyre strategy hadn’t paid off, despite the Mercedes driver having Pirellis which were the best part of 50 laps old. Mercedes says that it feels the decision and outcome were both wrong, and have now indicated that it has “protested the classification established at the end of the competition”, feeling that the circumstances in which the race ended influenced the its outcome. The team believe the allowing of only some lapped cars through contravened the procedure described in article 48.12 of Formula 1’s sporting regulations, underpinning its protest.
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The rules say 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.”
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto also spoke about the position of the Brackley team, interviewed by Sky Sport after the race: “I think it’s normal for Mercedes to try this approach and protest. For the FIA it is never easy to judge: whatever choice you make, someone will be unhappy. Even today it was like this. For my part, I always have faith in their work and in how they approach a situation. There is someone who will not be happy, this is part of the game, as is the right to make a protest if one judges certain things and wants to underline them “. – the Ferrari boss explained.