Red Bull's Max Verstappen to Leave Abu Dhabi as 2021 F1 Champ After Stewards Dismiss Protests
19:15 GMT 12.12.2021 (Updated: 20:20 GMT 12.12.2021)
Top rivals Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen headed to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix tied in the points with 369.5 each after the British driver managed to best Verstappen at the chaotic inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Dutch driver Max Verstappen was officially declared the winner of the F1 world championship on Sunday after racing stewards dismissed two protests filed earlier by the rival Mercedes camp in the wake of the controversial win.
Shortly after Verstappen was hailed as the 2021 winner, the Mercedes team lodged two protests with the FIA that argued against the race restart and accused the sports association of not following its own rules (Article 48.12 of the regulations) regarding lapped cars and the usage of safety cars.
"Having considered the various elements made by the parties the stewards determined 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," reads the ruling, adding that while Article 48.12 may not have been "applied fully," it was overridden by the stipulations of Article 48.13.
"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.”
Hamilton lost his chance at adding another world title to his stats after a crash by Canadian driver Nicholas Latifi triggered a safety car period and then led to an FIA decision to allow lapped cars to unlap themselves before a race restart. Exactly five cars were allowed to do so - the same five cars that stood between Hamilton and Verstappen.
Prior to the FIA's final rulings, Verstappen weighed in on the protests and remarked that there was "not much really to say about that" as he referenced the bitter battle between Red Bull and Mercedes for the 2021 title.
"I think it also sums up a little bit this season," he underscored.
Mercedes has since filed for reconsideration to the International Court of Appeal.