Mercedes withdraws appeal against Verstappen’s coronation, but does not take offense

Mercedes withdrew its appeal on Thursday against the controversial conditions of the coronation of Max Verstappen (Red Bull), who became F1 world champion ahead of Briton Lewis Hamilton on Sunday, but the team still considers themselves “aggrieved”, according to their boss Toto Wolff .

The Dutchman will therefore be able to install without fear at home the trophy which was to be awarded to him at the awards gala of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) Thursday evening in Paris.

Neither Hamilton, second in the drivers ‘standings, nor Wolff, constructors’ champion with Mercedes, were there to see him, both having decided to boycott the ceremony.

“In front of a normal court, we would be almost certain to win, but the problem with the International Court of Appeal, it is that the FIA ​​cannot mark its own work”, justified the Austrian boss of Mercedes during a virtual press conference.

Wolff nevertheless welcomed the initiative of the governing body of motorsport to open an investigation into the events that led to the victory and the coronation of Verstappen at the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.

He is waiting “not just words, but actions” and “measures before the start of next season” to prevent such a situation from happening again. “Sport must take precedence over entertainment”, he insisted, denouncing a “series of inconsistent decisions” on the part of the management and the race marshals who “caused unnecessary controversy” and “polarized” throughout the season.

Hamilton “disillusioned”

Asked about the state of mind of his star pilot, who has not spoken since Sunday, the Austrian did not hide that he was “disillusioned”. However, he wants to believe that Hamilton “will see in his heart that he must continue [en F1], because he is at the top of his game, but he will have to overcome the pain, because he is a man with strong values ​​”.

Mercedes had filed two complaints immediately after the GP, won by Verstappen ahead of Hamilton thanks to a controversial choice by the clerk of the course. These complaints had been rejected by the commissioners, and Mercedes then declared its intention to appeal, before retracting Thursday, the deadline to do so.

Sport must take precedence over entertainment

Thursday, at the press conference before the awards ceremony, Verstappen said he was entitled to “a double celebration”, after the race and after the decision of the commissioners.

“Since that moment, I haven’t really talked about it [de l’appel], continued Verstappen. This morning when I heard the news, I was happy, but I expected it. “

“It’s racing, these things can happen,” assured the Dutchman, who sees “no reason why [Hamilton] should stop there ”, while he can“ still fight next year for an eighth record title ”.

“The whole year”

A point of view shared by FIA President Jean Todt, who is completing his third and last term on Friday: “Max was very lucky on the last lap, but you have to look at the whole year. Was he lucky at Silverstone [abandon après accrochage avec Hamilton], in Azerbaijan [accident après problème pneumatique], in Budapest [9e après avoir été percuté] ? Non. »

In Abu Dhabi, victory, synonymous with coronation, because the two drivers were tied before this last round, appeared promised to the seven-time British world champion until the accident of Nicholas Latifi six laps from the finish.

The time to free the Williams from the Canadian, the race was neutralized behind the safety car. It is the way in which this neutralization ended that the German manufacturer contested.

According to the point of the F1 rules that he invoked, the restart would have occurred one lap too early, before the 58e and last loop. However, Verstappen overtook Hamilton in this last lap, to win his first title.

Without this, the GP would have ended behind the safety car, without the possibility of overtaking, and the Mercedes driver would have been sacred.

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