Mercedes’ intent of appeal explained and how it affects Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen prevails in world title shoot-out

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Max Verstappen has officially been crowned the F1 world champion – but it isn’t all over yet. Following an incredible finish in Abu Dhabi, the Red Bull driver overtook Lewis Hamilton on the final lap to claim his maiden title, in a finale wilder than any F1 fan could have envisaged.

However, it was the British driver who had been in command for much of the race, and looked set to claim a record-breaking eighth title when with five laps to go, Williams driver Nicholas Latifi careered off the track.

His crash prompted a safety car to come out and with nothing to lose, Verstappen opted to pit, a gamble which paid off when race director Michael Masi backtracked on his original order that lapped cars could not overtake the vehicle on the penultimate lap.

It meant Verstappen was able to get close to Hamilton before racing restarted for the final lap, and on fresher tyres, he inevitably moved in front of his rival to take the chequered flag.

The drama didn’t end there however, with Mercedes promptly submitting two protests in a big to get the result overturned.

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The first protest read: “Protest by Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team against Car 33, alleged breach of Article 48.8 of the 2021 FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.”

The second read: “Protest by Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team against the classification established at the end of the Competition, alleged breach of Article 48.12 of the 2021 FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.”

It was the latter complaint which was deemed the stronger, but some four hours after the race finished, came confirmation from the FIA that both appeals had been rejected.

The FIA released a statment saying “Having considered the various statements made by the parties the Stewards determine the following: That Article 15.3 allows the Race Director to control the use of the safety car, which in our determination includes its deployment and withdrawal.

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“That although Article 48.12 may not have been applied fully, in relation to the safety car returning to the pits at the end of the following 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.

Their decision however, doesn’t appear to be the end of the matter, with Toto Wolff’s team responding by immediately launching an intent of appeal.

Invoking that intent essentially buys Mercedes some time to consider whether they will indeed amount a further full-blown protest to the FIA’s International Court of Appeal.

They have 96 hours – up until Thursday night – to lodge the appeal officially which, as it happens, coincides with the FIA Prize Giving Gala, when the champion is officially crowned and confirmed.

It means that Hamilton, who showed real dignity in congratulating Verstappen in the aftermath of the Grand Prix, may yet be crowned champion if the appeal is indeed launched and subsequently upheld.

The controversy has overshadowed an epic finale to the F1 season, which saw both drivers go into the final race level on points.

With Verstappen on pole, it was Hamilton who took him at he first corner and seemed certain to take a fifth successive title before the late drama unfolded.

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