Verstappen wins championship thanks to late safety car

Max Verstappen is the new 2021 Formula 1 world champion by winning the race in an epic and yet controversial last lap with Lewis Hamilton following a late safety car.

The two title rivals came together on the opening lap, but it was the decision to allow a final lap shootout that gave Verstappen the chance to put a decisive pass on Hamilton, who had led most of the race but was unable to stop during a virtual safety car and the full safety car that followed Nicholas Latifi crashing during the closing laps.

At the start, Hamilton made a much better start to immediately shoot alongside Verstappen from second on the grid, with the Mercedes driver seizing the lead at the Turn 1 braking point despite a small lock-up on his left-front.

Hamilton scampered clear but Verstappen stayed close enough to close in slightly going down the long run to the Turns 6/7 chicane than splits Yas Marina’s two main straights.

The Red Bull driver sent a late lunge to Hamilton’s inside and got alongside by the apex, but went so deep to the outside of the track he ran half his car on the kerbs, with Hamilton going fully off and cutting behind Turn 7, rejoining to keep the lead.

To Red Bull’s fury, race director Michael Masi informed the team the stewards had reviewed the incident but decided no investigation was necessary.

This was because in their view Verstappen had forced the issue with Hamilton left no room to stay on track and that the leader had slowed down enough to lead by 1.1 seconds at the end of lap one of 58 to have given up any advantage he gained by cutting the corner.

With Red Bull informing the frustrated Verstappen that he would have to win the race and championship on track, Hamilton quickly edged clear and set a string of fastest laps through the opening 10 tours, running the more durable medium tyres to Verstappen’s softs.

His lead had reached 3.4 seconds by the end of lap ten, at which point Verstappen was already suggesting his rear tyres were starting to slide.

Three laps later, with Hamilton’s lead over five seconds for the first time, Red Bull called Verstappen in to go from the softs to the hards, rejoining in between the Ferrari cars of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, who went off through the plunging downhill right of Turn 3 in Verstappen’s wake.

Mercedes brought Hamilton in a lap later for his own set of hards, which meant Sergio Perez, who had been nearly 10s off the lead by the time Hamilton came in, cycling through to lead.

Hamilton carved into Perez’s advantage as Verstappen took several laps to pass Sainz, even going off at the penultimate corner as he chased the Ferrari hard, finally moving up to third with a DRS pass into Turn 6 on lap 18.

Over the next two laps it became clear Red Bull’s plan was for Perez to hold Hamilton up considerably to try and get Verstappen’s near eight-second deficit down.

On laps 20 and 21, the leading pair engaged in a thrilling fight, with Perez nipping back in front of Hamilton at Turn 6 after being passed with DRS on the outside, then when the Mercedes got ahead out of Turn 7 he used his own DRS activation to shoot back alongside and by through the Turn 8 kink and lead again into the new hairpin of Turn 9 at the end of the second straight.

Hamilton attacked at Turn 1 and was rebuffed by Perez, but then had another go with DRS into Turn 6, where he finally sealed his move back to first by cutting from the outside to inside to leave Perez nowhere to go.

Perez pitted at the end of lap 21 to take his own hards, his efforts to hold up Hamilton getting his teammate back to 1.7 seconds adrift.

But Hamilton was able to pull away again from his rival, his lead back to 4.2 seconds by the end of lap 30 – although he informed his team “it’s a long way to go [to the finish] on this set of tyres”.

That concern became of great importance six laps later when Verstappen was called for a second time to take a second set of hards, under a virtual safety car that had been activated when Antonio Giovinazzi’s last race for Alfa Romeo ended with a transmission problem and he pulled up at Turn 9’s exit.

Mercedes opted to retain track position and not take a cheaper pitstop, which set up a 20-lap chase to the finish with Verstappen on much fresher tyres and needing to close a 17s gap.

The Red Bull driver did immediately cut chunks from his rival’s advantage, but only in near half second chunks, which meant it still held at 13.9 seconds with 15 laps to go.

Verstappen continued to home in on Hamilton, with both having to get through a gaggle of backmarkers as the final ten laps approached.

But he still had to close an 11 seconds gap entering the final phase, with tensions raised by Lando Norris, who had dropped down from third at the start, falling out of fifth with a slow puncture – likely picked up on the new kerbs exiting Turns 5 and 9, which Hamilton was advised by Mercedes to avoid.

However, the race was altered dramatically when Latifi crashed exiting the Turn 14 left that leads out from underneath the hotel that straddles the final sector with six laps left – after the Williams had been battling Mick Schumacher through Turn 9 and gone after over the kerbs and then lost the rear of his car and slammed into the wall as he chased the Haas.

Red Bull brought Verstappen in for a third time to go to the softs, with Mercedes unable to bring Hamilton in as it would have meant sacrificing the lead.

The incident took almost the entire rest of the race to clear, which initially looked like it would benefit Hamilton as the lapped cars that had filtered between the leaders – Norris, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon, Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel – were not allowed to overtake the safety ahead of the restart.

But Masi reversed this call ahead of the final lap, with Hamilton backing up Verstappen considerably and then flooring it to try and bridge a gap.

He led on the last tour but Verstappen used his fresher rubber to stay close and then dive into a pass at the new Turn 5 left hairpin at the start of the middle sector and then weaving in defence on the straight down to Turn 6, where it had all kicked off over 90 minutes earlier.

Hamilton chased Verstappen on the run to Turn 9 but the Red Bull defend the inside and Hamilton had nowhere to go, sliding wide through the hairpin and coming home 2.2s as Verstappen took his first F1 world title.

Sainz ended up third as Perez was retired in the pits during the late safety car, with AlphaTauri pair Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly taking fourth and fifth ahead of Valtteri Bottas, who to work his way back up from a poor first lap – gaining when Norris suffered his puncture.

Norris took seventh ahead of Alonso and Ocon, with Leclerc rounding out the top ten, the second Ferrari losing ground after stopping during the VSC.

So a controversial end to this thrilling season. Mercedes and Hamilton felt robbed in losing the championship due to the safety car. Red Bull took advantage and Verstappen made the move on the final lap to seal the title. What a dramatic finale in a crazy championship. Congrats to Max Verstappen in becoming the 2021 champ.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:30:17.345
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +2.256
3 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari +5.173
4 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda +5.692
5 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda +6.531s
6 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +7.463s
7 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes +59.200s
8 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault +61.708s
9 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault +64.026s
10 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +66.057s
11 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes +67.527s
12 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap
13 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes +1 lap
14 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari +1 lap
15 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda DNF
– Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes DNF
– Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari DNF
– George Russell Williams-Mercedes DNF
– Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari DNF
– Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari DNS

8 thoughts to “Verstappen wins championship thanks to late safety car”

  1. Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race review as reported by

    Max Verstappen secured his maiden World Championship with victory in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton finishing second as the race ended in a nail-biting one-lap sprint after a late Safety Car. The result, which saw Valtteri Bottas finish sixth and Sergio Perez retire, means Mercedes have clinched a record eighth consecutive constructors’ championship.

    Medium-tyred Hamilton jumped soft-shod Verstappen at the start, while the Dutchman came back in Turn 6, nudging him wide and over the run-off, but the Mercedes driver continued in the lead. Stewards decided not to investigate. The pit window opened when Verstappen came in on Lap 13, Hamilton a lap later, leaving Sergio Perez in the lead with the mission to hold off Hamilton.

    Perez did exactly that, on Laps 20 to 21 – being dubbed a “legend” by his team mate as he let him past to continue the chase, before pitting on Lap 22. The podium looked certain until he retired on Lap 56 under a Safety Car, which was brought out for a Nicholas Latifi crash.

    That Safety Car, during which Verstappen pitted for soft tyres, left the race with just one lap of green flag racing remaining, producing another memorable moment in this epic season. Verstappen did make the pass on Hamilton into Lap 5, the decisive move, and while Hamilton attempted to come back towards Turn 9, there was nothing doing. History was made, as it was always going to be, and the trophy went to the Dutchman for the first time.

    Carlos Sainz took the final podium place ahead of AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda in P4 – while AlphaTauri team mate Pierre Gasly rounded out the top five.

    Valtteri Bottas struggled to P6, running as low as eighth, and losing a potential podium spot from fourth to sixth under the final Safety Car.

    Alpine took points with Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon eighth and ninth respectively, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc rounding out the top 10.

    Alfa Romeo suffered a double retirement as Kimi Raikkonen bowed out on Lap 26, team mate Antonio Giovinazzi 10 laps later. Latifi was Williams’ second retiree after George Russell bowed out from his tenure with the team with a loss of drive on Lap 27.

    Mercedes and Red Bull therefore shared the spoils in this incredible season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, fit for a season that will no doubt go down as one of the greatest ever.

    Thousands of people behind the scenes have spent thousands of hours, made countless sacrifices, offering their all until the very end of this longest-ever F1 season. It would all come down to this: the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Two of Formula 1’s greatest-ever drivers, Max Verstappen and Sir Lewis Hamilton going toe-to-toe, to land the final knockout blow in a fight for the ages.

    Bowing out after two decades, Kimi Raikkonen prepped for his final Grand Prix – with Alfa Romeo team mate Antonio Giovinazzi, Williams’ George Russell, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and engine suppliers Honda set to leave for new horizons.

    Then there were the legends we’ve lost along the way: Sir Frank Williams, Murray Walker, Max Mosley, Johnny Dumfries, Carlos Reutemann, and Mansour Ojjeh among those sorely missed before a showdown fitting of their towering legacies.

    On the grid would be 19 cars (Haas’s Nikita Mazepin missing the finale due to a positive Covid-19 test) with soft-tyred Verstappen on pole ahead of medium-shod rival Hamilton, Lando Norris starting third on softs for McLaren and sharing second row with Sergio Perez (softs), Bottas (mediums) and Carlos Sainz (softs) on the third row.

    And on the line would be a drivers’ championship – Hamilton gunning for a record eighth title, Verstappen going for his first – Mercedes’ 28-point lead over Red Bull making them favourites for a record eighth consecutive constructors’ championship.

    Five lights turned on, five went out, and it was – to borrow the inimitable Murray Walker’s trademark phrase – “Go, go, go”, for the final time this season.

    And it was Hamilton who had the superior launch off the line, taking the lead well before Turn 1 while Norris ran wide and rejoined fourth, but Verstappen came back on the long straight to Turn 6, almost taking the lead with a late lunge but nudging Hamilton wide into the run-off area. The Briton went over the blue strips and retained the lead; the stewards decided not to investigate.

    FIA Race Director Michael Masi’s reasoning as to why Verstappen had to concede the lead was thus: “He [Verstappen] forced him [Hamilton] out there. That’s why we asked him to give back the advantage.”

    Verstappen’s radioed reply was that the decision was “incredible”, and on Lap 8 he began to note that his rear soft tyres were starting to drop off a little, sitting 2.5 seconds behind Hamilton ahead. The reigning champion would stretch that gap to 3.5 seconds just a couple of laps later.

    Meanwhile, in the opening lap, Sainz took P4 off Norris on the first lap with Bottas dropping to P8 behind AlphaTauri’s medium-tyred Yuki Tsunoda. Norris’s P5 would be under threat from Leclerc.

    Verstappen pitted at the end of Lap 13 from softs to hards and emerged fifth, thundering out of that pit exit and catching Leclerc off guard, the Ferrari driver running wide and locking up soon after. Verstappen made up a place courtesy of Norris on the run to Turn 6 soon after; Leclerc pitted from softs to hards at the end of his 15th lap to emerge 15th.

    The Red Bull driver’s pit stop triggered Hamilton to do the same a lap later, switching from mediums to hard tyres, emerging second. Perez therefore inherited the lead, Verstappen then running wide at Turn 15 in frenetic chase before swiping third off Sainz on Lap 18 – perhaps a lap later than he would have liked.

    By Lap 20, Hamilton was in DRS range of Perez and the Mexican had been told to hold up Hamilton. So, bearing down on the lead Red Bull, Hamilton made it past him towards Turn 6 but Perez led into the corner. However, the Mercedes driver had a better exit and led into the following. Another twist in the tale as Perez made his way past the seven-time champion going Turn 9 and led into Lap 21.

    Perez led by a whisker starting the 21st lap, Hamilton again getting a superior exit out of Turn 5 and pinning the Red Bull to the outside going into Turn 6, finally taking the lead of the race. But Perez had done his job, and done it admirably, holding up the Mercedes enough for Verstappen to make up five seconds and letting his team mate cleanly past before pitting from P3 for hards at the end of the tour.

    “Checo is a legend” came Verstappen’s response on the radio, the Dutchman now two seconds behind Hamilton.

    Hamilton re-ignited the afterburners, however, and continued to steadily build his gap, three seconds ahead by Lap 26 of 58, another second added to that by the halfway point, and the gap steadily increasing.

    Just as the season had started, Verstappen bearing down on Hamilton in Bahrain using newer tyres, how it would end? Well, it would be naïve to think this season didn’t have another surprise in store.

    When the race restarted on Lap 38, Hamilton had a 17-second gap in his favour; Verstappen had new tyres and eight-tenths per lap to make up if he was to win his first title. He made up half a second alone as the VSC ended, closing down to within 12 seconds with 10 laps left as backmarkers began to come into play – a train of midfielders from Alonso to Leclerc costing Hamilton valuable time.

    When Verstappen came across that midfield gaggle on Lap 51 he was just over 11 seconds behind Hamilton, the lead now looking insurmountable. That was, until Nicholas Latifi crashed on Lap 53 exiting Turn 14, bringing out a Safety Car. Verstappen again took the chance to pit – this time for soft tyres.

    It had turned out that Latifi spun and crashed having fought with Haas’s Mick Schumacher for P15, picking up dirt and dust running wide in Sector 3, and spun leaving Turn 14.

    On Lap 56, Safety Car still circulating, Perez was brought into the pits to retire, denying him a deserved podium and promoting Sainz. Verstappen had boxed for fresh softs under the Safety Car, and as the laps ticked down and the lapped cars were allowed to clear out of the way of the fight for the lead, it would come down to a one-lap shoot-out between Hamilton and Verstappen.

    Hamilton led, until the two went into Turn 5 and that was where Verstappen made the winning pass. The Briton attempted to make it past but his chance at taking a record eighth World Championship was slipping away. And that is how it would end, Verstappen winning his first title by 2.2 seconds at the chequered flag: an epic send-off for this era of F1 and a Hollywood finish to this most dramatic of seasons.

    The final podium place went to Sainz, the Ferrari driver having pried P4 off Norris and been promoted when Perez retired, while Tsunoda took fourth, the Japanese rookie having started on medium compounds on P8, battled with Fernando Alonso in defence of P7, and then made it up to fourth in the final Safety Car restart when Perez retired, Bottas falling back to sixth, with Pierre Gasly being promoted to P5 at the finish (having gone long in his first hard-tyred stint) to give AlphaTauri a huge double points finish.

    Norris had a late puncture, pitting on Lap 50, and ended up seventh ahead of the Alpine duo – Fernando Alonso having gone long on his starting hard compounds to finish eighth and ahead of team mate Esteban Ocon.

    Leclerc lost out early on with a lockup after Verstappen emerged from the pits and ended the race 10th, taking the final point. However, as Sainz took the final podium place, he leapfrogged both his team mate and Norris to take P5 in the drivers’ championship, in his first season with Ferrari.

    On the run to Turn 6 on Lap 6, Lance Stroll was passed by Aston Martin team mate Sebastian Vettel, who was almost squeezed off the track. The four-time champion ended up 11th, Stroll 13th, with Daniel Ricciardo between them having previously been in contention for points.

    In last was Mick Schumacher, the sole Haas driver, with his team mate not starting due to Covid-19.

    There were five retirees including outgoing Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Raikkonen on Lap 26, outgoing team mate Giovinazzi 10 laps later, Mercedes-bound Williams driver George Russell on Lap 26, Red Bull’s Perez on Lap 56 and of course Williams driver Latifi, whose crash brought out the race-defining Safety Car.

    While Hamilton came away without a record eighth championship, Mercedes did, however take a record eighth consecutive constructors’ championship in an unfrogettable finish to 2021.

  2. New world champion Max Verstappen wants to stay with Red Bull forever after “unbelievable” title win. has the news story.

    Max Verstappen described his Formula 1 world title triumph as “unbelievable” after Abu Dhabi Grand Prix victory and wants to stay with Red Bull “for the rest of my life”.

    Verstappen took the opportunity to pit under the safety car, brought out for Nicholas Latifi’s crash with five laps remaining, to bolt on the soft tyre.

    But although he was set to have to pick through traffic at the end as race control initially decided not to move the lapped traffic between him and title rival Lewis Hamilton aside, a late call meant that the lapped runners of Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel were sent on their way past the safety car.

    Verstappen was on Hamilton’s tail as a result, and dispatched his rival at the reprofiled Turn 5 to claim the lead – and with it, the world title.

    “I think they know I love them,” Verstappen said. “And I hope we can do this for 10/15 years together. There’s no reason to change ever. I want to stay with them for the rest of my life. I hope they let me but yeah, it’s insane.

    “I’m so happy and also Christian but also Helmut you know, trusting me to be in the team in 2016. Our goal of course was to win this championship and now we have done that.”

    Verstappen explained that the manner of his first title win was “unbelievable”, and felt he didn’t give up throughout even though the race looked lost prior to Latifi’s accident.

    “It’s unbelievable. I mean, throughout the whole race. I kept fighting. And then of course, that opportunity in the last lap. It’s incredible. I’m still having a cramp in my leg!

    “But it’s insane. It’s insane. I mean, I don’t know what to say, these guys here of my team, and of course, Honda as well, they deserve it.

    “I love them so much. And I really, really enjoy working with them already since 2016. But this year has been incredible.”

    With 10 laps remaining, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told Sky Sports F1 that the team “needed a miracle” – which Verstappen accepted as a bit of “luck”.

    Verstappen, F1’s first ever Dutch champion, also paid tribute to teammate Sergio Perez, whose robust defence against Hamilton following the Mercedes driver’s first pitstop helped Verstappen cut the initial gap from around eight seconds to 2.5s.

    “Finally a bit of luck for me. Insane,” Verstappen added.

    “I also want to say a big thank you to Checo. I mean, he was driving his heart out as well today. It was great teamwork. And he’s an amazing teammate.”

  3. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton congratulates Max Verstappen after “most difficult of F1 seasons”. has the full details.

    Lewis Hamilton has congratulated Max Verstappen on beating him to the 2021 Formula 1 world championship in dramatic conditions after what he called “the most difficult of seasons”.

    For the first time in over three decades, both title contenders headed to the final race on equal points after what has been a thoroughly unforgettable and controversial 2021 season.

    The title showdown at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix certainly lived up to expectations and offered a blueprint of the entire season packed into one race.

    Hamilton passed polesitter Verstappen at the start, but the Dutchman came back to overtake him at Turn 6.

    As Verstappen pushed Hamilton into the runoff area, Hamilton emerged ahead with Red Bull angered at race control’s non-call to not order him to give the position back.

    Passing Hamilton was soft-shod Verstappen’s only chance to win and Hamilton duly drove away from the Red Bull on longer lasting mediums, but Red Bull gave itself an outside chance to get back at the Briton by pitting Verstappen under a virtual safety car while Hamilton persisted on used hard tyres.

    A late safety car for a crash by Williams man Nicholas Latifi made Mercedes’ worst case scenario a reality, with Verstappen pitting again for new tyres with four laps to go while Hamilton was forced to continue lest he lose track position.

    The incident was cleared ahead of a last-lap dash to the line, but race control sparked more controversy by initially leaving the lapped cars between leader Hamilton and Verstappen in line only to then allow them to unlap themselves right before the restart.

    That left Hamilton a sitting duck against Verstappen, who swiftly passed his rival at the Turn 5 hairpin and romp home to his maiden world championship.

    Despite enduring a heated rivalry with Verstappen, which included several on-track clashes, Hamilton composed himself to congratulate Verstappen in parc ferme after what he called “the most difficult of seasons”.

    “Firstly, a big congratulations to Max and to his team,” Hamilton said.

    “I think we did an amazing job this year, with my team. Everyone back to the factory, all the men and women we have – and here – worked so hard this whole year.

    “It’s been the most difficult of seasons and I’m so proud of them, so grateful to be a part of the journey with them.

    “We gave it everything this last part of the season, we gave it absolutely everything and we never gave up. And that’s the most important thing.”

    Hamilton said he had been “feeling good” ahead of the Abu Dhabi showdown after winning the last three races in a row and closing the gap with Verstappen, after it looked at times like the Dutchman was going to run away with the title.

    “Yeah, of course. I’ve been feeling good … great in the car this past couple of months, particularly at the end,” he added.

    “If I’m honest, you know, we’re still in the pandemic and I just really wish everyone to stay safe and have a good Christmas with all their families and then we’ll see about next year.”

  4. Mercedes has lodged a protest with the FIA over Sunday’s controversial Formula 1 title decider in Abu Dhabi over the late safety car restart.

    Lewis Hamilton lost out to Max Verstappen in the fight for the drivers’ championship after being overtaken on the final lap following a late restart by race director Michael Masi.

    The safety car was called after a crash for Nicholas Latifi, and Masi initially said that lapped drivers were not allowed to overtake the safety car, leaving five cars between Hamilton and Verstappen.

    But Masi then instructed these cars to overtake the safety car, leaving Verstappen and Hamilton nose-to-tail on-track for one lap of racing to decide the championship.

    Verstappen had already pitted for soft tyres, while Hamilton was on used hards, meaning the Red Bull driver could launch a move up the inside at Turn 5 to take the lead, which he would hold until the end of the race to seal the championship.

    The nature of the restart has now prompted Mercedes to lodge two protests with the FIA over the restart and result in Abu Dhabi. This was lodged within the required 30-minute time window after the race.

    Mercedes added that it “will not make any further comment on the detail of that until the hearing has been conducted”.

    One protest surrounds Article 48.8 of the sporting regulations, which says “no driver may overtake another car on the track, including the safety car, until he passes the Line (see Article 5.3) for the first time after the safety car has returned to the pits.”

    Verstappen appeared to pull alongside Hamilton approaching Turn 12 on lap 57 ahead of the restart on lap 58.

    The second protest is based on Article 48.12, which says 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.”

    Race control gave the order for five lapped cars – Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel – to pass the safety car ahead of the restart, but Daniel Ricciardo, Lance Stroll and Mick Schumacher were not given the same call.


  5. Red Bull driver and new champion Max Verstappen commented that the Mercedes team’s protest in Abu Dhabi “sums up this season”. has the full details.

    Max Verstappen says Mercedes’ protest of the results in Abu Dhabi “sums up a little bit this season”, while Red Bull Formula 1 boss Christian Horner felt “disappointed”.

    Verstappen clinched his first F1 world title in a dramatic end to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, passing championship rival Lewis Hamilton on the final lap to win the race.

    The safety car had been deployed following a crash for Nicholas Latifi, but race director Michael Masi called for the race to resume with one lap remaining.

    This came after he initially said that lapped cars would not be permitted to overtake, only to then allow Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel to pass.

    But a number of other lapped cars were not given the same call, prompting Mercedes to lodge a protest for a possible breach of Article 48.12 of the sporting regulations.

    Mercedes lodged a second protest under Article 48.8 of the regulations that says drivers cannot overtake the car ahead under the safety car. Verstappen appeared to go side-by-side with Hamilton into Turn 12 ahead of the restart.

    Asked by what he thought of Mercedes’ protest, Verstappen exhaled and replied: “Not much really to say about that.

    “I think it also sums up a little bit this season.”

    In a short comment issued by Red Bull, team principal Christian Horner said: “We are disappointed there has been a protest, but we trust in the FIA.”

    The drivers and representatives from both teams are meeting with the FIA stewards this evening after Mercedes lodged a protest within the 30-minute window, as required under the regulations.

    Explaining his approach for the restart and the final-lap move on Hamilton, Verstappen said he was trying to “react to what he is doing” and wanted to “of course try not to be too far away”.

    “I could see he was struggling quite a bit for the hard tyres to warm up and I had the grip, so I could stay relatively close,” Verstappen said.

    “And of course on the soft tyres, that first lap you could clearly see I had more grip. But then you still have after Turn 5 two very long straights where you have a chance to come back.

    “It was all pretty close between us.”

  6. Formula 1’s world championship showdown in Abu Dhabi ended in controversial circumstances, with Mercedes protesting the way a safety car restart was handled by the FIA.

    With Lewis Hamilton having looked on course to grab his eighth world crown, the race was turned in its head when Williams driver Nicholas Latifi crashed at the exit of the hotel complex on lap 53 of the 58 laps race, triggering a safety car.

    The safety car situation resulted in Max Verstappen pitting for soft tyres, while Hamilton stayed out on his well-worn hards.

    With a winner-takes-all championship battle underway, it was in Red Bull’s interest to get a restart going, and it without the intervention of lapped cars that were on track between Verstappen and Hamilton.

    So when Masi issued a notice saying ‘Lapped cars will not be allowed to overtake’, it appeared that Red Bull’s hopes would not be realised as he would be unlikely to clear the lapped cars in time.

    However, the situation changed dramatically on the penultimate lap when Masi felt the track was safe enough to let a few backmarkers overtake.

    But it was the way this was handled, and the immediate restart, that has upset Mercedes.

    Safety Car rules

    Mercedes’ protest is based on two regulations: Article 48.12 and Article 48.8 of the F1 Sporting Regulations.

    Article 48.12 deals with the situation of having backmarkers unlap themselves.

    Initially, Masi had been within his rights to state that ‘Lapped Cars will not be allowed to overtake’ – which meant Verstappen would be trapped behind five backmarkers before he could get a run on Hamilton.

    However, on the penultimate lap, on the run down to Turn 9, Masi sent a message saying that five cars – Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel could unlap themselves.

    The decision to only allow some lapped cars to unlap themselves is unusual as Article 48.12 suggests that the message ‘LAPPED CARS MAY NOW OVERTAKE’ should be sent to all competitors.

    The regulation is then explicit about when the race can be restarted.

    It states: “Unless the clerk of the course considers the presence of the safety car is still necessary, once the last lapped car has passed the leader the safety car will return to the pits at the end of the following lap.

    “If the clerk of the course considers track conditions are unsuitable for overtaking the message “OVERTAKING WILL NOT BE PERMITTED” will be sent to all Competitors via the official messaging system ”

    This clause suggests that with the lapped car message having come out on lap 57, then the restart could only come at the end of the ‘following lap’- so lap 58, which was the end of the race.

    Article 48.8 relates to there being no overtaking behind the safety car.

    During the restart phase, as Hamilton and Verstappen prepared to begin racing again, it appeared from the onboard that the Red Bull had briefly nudged ahead of the Mercedes.

    The rule states that “no driver may overtake another car on the track, including the safety car, until he passes the Line (see Article 5.3 – which is the safety car line) for the first time after the safety car has returned to the pits.”

    Both matters will now be dealt with in the FIA stewards’ room on Sunday night, meaning the championship fight ends under a cloud.


  7. The Mercedes team’s protest against Max Verstappen overtaking under safety car dismissed. has the full story.

    The FIA stewards have dismissed one of Mercedes’ two protests of the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix result, clearing Max Verstappen of illegally overtaking behind the safety car.

    Mercedes lodged two protests against the race result in the wake of Lewis Hamilton’s title defeat to Verstappen in Abu Dhabi over the restart procedure by race director Michael Masi.

    Mercedes cited articles of the sporting regulations saying that no driver can overtake another car on track behind the safety car, and that all lapped cars must pass the safety car before the race resumes on the following lap, leading to hearings on Sunday night in Abu Dhabi.

    In the first decision issued by the stewards on Sunday night, the protest regarding overtaking behind the safety car was dismissed.

    “Mercedes claimed that Car 33 overtook Car 44 during the Safety Car period at 1832hrs, in breach of Article 48.8 of the 2021 Formula One Sporting Regulations,” reads the bulletin from the stewards.

    “Red Bull argued that Car 44 was not ‘overtaken’ by Car 33, that both cars were ‘on and off the throttle’ and that there were ‘a million precedents’ under Safety Car where cars had pulled alongside then moved back behind the car that was in front.”

    While the stewards did agree that Verstappen did “at one stage, for a very short period of time, move slightly in front of Car 44, at a time when both cars where accelerating and braking,” he did then move back behind Hamilton and “was not in front when the Safety Car period ended (i.e. at the line).”

    The bulletin ends: “Accordingly, the Protest is dismissed and the Protest Deposit is not refunded.”

    Verstappen said that the protests by Mercedes “sum up a little bit the season”, while Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said he was “disappointed” but trusted the FIA’s judgement.

    The stewards are yet to announce any decision relating to Mercedes’ second protest, which relates to cars unlapping themselves and the race restarting.

  8. The FIA stewards have announced that Mercedes’ protest over the restart of the Formula 1 title decider in Abu Dhabi has not been upheld.

    Mercedes lodged two protests with the FIA following the controversial end to the race at the Yas Marina Circuit, including one over the restart of the race with one lap remaining.

    Max Verstappen overtook Lewis Hamilton on the last lap to win the race and the championship after race director Michael Masi brought in the safety car with one lap to go.

    It means that Verstappen is formally the race winner and the 2021 drivers’ champion. Mercedes is yet to comment if it will take further action over the decision.

    The stewards’ bulletin explained that Mercedes argued there had been a breach of Article 48.12 of the regulations which state 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” and “once the last lapped car has passed the leader the safety car will return to the pits at the end of the following lap.”

    Had this been followed, Mercedes argued that Hamilton would have won the race and the championship, and requested an amendment of the race result under the FIA’s International Sporting Code.

    The stewards said that although that article may not have been “applied fully” as the safety car came in at the end of the same lap, “Article 48.13 overrides that and once the message ‘Safety Car in this lap’ has been displayed, it is mandatory to withdraw the safety car at the end of that lap.”

    The notice added: “That notwithstanding, Mercedes’ request that the Stewards remediate the matter by amending the classification to reflect the positions at the end of the penultimate lap, this is a step that the Stewards believe is effectively shortening the race retrospectively, and hence not appropriate.

    “Accordingly, the Protest is dismissed.”

    It was the second protest to be dismissed by the stewards after the race. Mercedes also lodged a protest over Verstappen allegedly overtaking Hamilton behind the safety car before the restart, but this was also dismissed.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *