Mercedes have released a statement to pay tribute to Lewis Hamilton’s effort this season after he was controversially beaten by Max Verstappen to the 2021 Formula One World Championship.
The Brit was pipped to the post by the Red Bull driver in the final lap of the Abu Dhabi GP to prevent Hamilton from winning his fifth successive title.
But Verstappen’s victory has been somewhat tarnished, at no fault of the Dutchman, due to a late safety car period following Nicholas Latifi’s crash, before race director Michael Masi U-turned and declared that some lapped cars would be able to unlap themselves.
The decision left Hamilton as a sitting duck out in front, though still with a commanding advantage, and Verstappen reaped the rewards with thanks to his fresher tyres.
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Mercedes have since released a statement commending Hamilton for his efforts over the course of the season, it read: “We left Abu Dhabi in disbelief of what we had just witnessed. Of course, it's part of the game to lose a race, but it's something different when you lose faith in racing.
“Lewis, you are the greatest racer in the history of Formula 1 and you drove your heart out for every lap of this incredible season.
“You're a flawless sportsman on and off the track and you delivered a faultless performance. As a pure competitor and as a role model for millions around the world, we salute you.”
The statement then went on to explain how the team were weighing up whether to appeal the decision due to how the Safety Car regulations were applied incorrectly which directly influenced the outcome of both the race and the overall World Championship.
The defeat is made all the more worse considering that Hamilton was set to secure a record eighth championship, yet now he is left level with former Ferrari and Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher on seven.
Mercedes’ statement then revealed that under the instruction of Hamilton himself, they will not be appealing the result.
“Together with Lewis, we have deliberated carefully over how to respond to the events at the Formula 1 season finale. We have always been guided by our love of this sport and we believe that every competition should be won on merit. In the race on Sunday, many felt, us included, that the way things unfolded was not right.
"The reason we protested the race result on Sunday was because the Safety Car regulations were applied in a new way that affected the race result, after Lewis had been in a commanding lead and on course to win the World Championship.
"We appealed in the interest of sporting fairness, and we have since been in a constructive dialogue with the FIA and Formula 1 to create clarity for the future, so that all competitors know the rules under which they are racing, and how they will be enforced.
"Thus, we welcome the decision by the FIA to install a commission to thoroughly analyse what happened in Abu Dhabi and to improve the robustness of rules, governance and decision making in Formula 1.”
It remains to be seen just how effective FIA’s new commission will be and whether there will be further outcomes of the Abu Dhabi GP.
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