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Mercedes lodge Abu Dhabi GP appeal after two protests rejected

Mercedes announced their intention to lodge an appeal after stewards rejected two protests against the result of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday, which saw Red Bull’s Max Verstappen’s win the world championship.

The appeal relates to the way in which the safety car rules were applied at the end of the race following a crash by Nicholas Latifi.

The involvement of the safety cars set up a final lap in which Verstappen overtook long-time race leader Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes to win the race and the title.

Mercedes argued the race director did not apply the rules correctly by resuming the race for the last lap.

Stewards countered by saying “although Article 48.12 may not have been applied fully,” the following article “overrides” it 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.”

Mercedes also claimed that Verstappen overtook Hamilton during the safety car period at the end of the race.

Verstappen’s Red Bull team argued that both cars were “on and off the throttle” and that there were “a million precedents” under safety car conditions where cars had pulled alongside and then moved back behind the car that was in front.

The stewards concluded that although Verstappen did briefly move in front of Hamilton, he was not in front at the end of the safety car period. Mercedes do not plan to appeal that decision. 

Hamilton had been coasting to victory, his eighth world title seemingly in the bag, until Latifi’s crash four laps from the end brought out the safety car and prompted Verstappen to make a pit stop for fresh tyres.

When racing resumed for the 58th and closing lap Verstappen barged past Hamilton, who was on his old tyres, to take the chequered flag and the title. 

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