Mercedes lodge protest after controversial finish to title-deciding Abu Dhabi GP

By Sports Desk December 12, 2021

Mercedes launched an official protest after Max Verstappen controversially beat Lewis Hamilton to the Formula One title on the final lap of the season.

Hamilton had reeled in Verstappen in the closing weeks of the campaign and led his rival for much of Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Having entered the race all square at the top of the standings, the victor of a battle between Hamilton and Verstappen would decide the championship.

Hamilton's advantage was wiped out by a safety car, under which Verstappen pitted to get fresh tyres for a potential shot at passing the Mercedes man.

He got that chance when race director Michael Masi belatedly ruled lapped cars could overtake the safety car, which headed in and allowed one lap of racing between the contenders.

Verstappen beat Hamilton as Mercedes fumed, with Masi explaining to Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff: "We went car racing."

As Red Bull celebrated their sensational victory, Mercedes protested "against the classification established at the end of the competition".

The protest focuses on articles 48.8 and 48.12 in the sporting regulations of governing body the FIA, each of which relate to the safety car.

Article 48.8 instructs that cars cannot overtake behind a safety car, with footage suggesting Verstappen may have briefly edged in front of Hamilton, who had position as the lead car.

Article 48.12 relates to when lapped cars can overtake under the safety car.

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    F1 bosses tore up their contract with organisers of the Russian race in March.

    Promoters Rosgonki had a deal that was due to run until 2025, with St Petersburg due to replace Sochi as host of the race next year.

    However, the Russian invasion of Ukraine led F1 chiefs to declare the 2022 race in Sochi had been cancelled, and it has now been confirmed there will be no replacement, meaning just 22 races will take place instead of the previous 23.

    A statement on the F1 website on Wednesday read: "The 2022 Formula 1 calendar will now run to 22 races rather than the originally planned 23, following the decision not to replace the Russian Grand Prix.

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    "But it's now been revealed that there will be no additional Grand Prix added to the calendar to fill the gap – meaning the 2022 calendar will run to 22 races."

    After five races of the 2022 season, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc leads the way in the drivers' standings on 104 points, with defending champion Max Verstappen of Red Bull in second on 85.

    The Spanish Grand Prix takes place on Sunday in Barcelona.

  • Red Bull closing on Ferrari as F1 returns to Europe ahead of Spanish GP Red Bull closing on Ferrari as F1 returns to Europe ahead of Spanish GP

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    With consecutive race wins at the Emilia Romagna GP and Miami GP following DNFs in Bahrain and Australia, Max Verstappen has closed the gap to standings leader Charles Leclerc to 19 points.

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    2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 85
    3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 66
    4. George Russell (Mercedes) 59 
    5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 53

    Constructors

    1. Ferrari 157
    2. Red Bull 151
    3. Mercedes 95
    4. McLaren 46
    5. Alfa Romeo 31

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    Formula One next heads to Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday.

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