Mercedes has lodged two protests over the controversial ending to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix involving the Safety Car.
In the closing stages of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix a Safety Car was deployed because of a crash for Nicholas Latifi. What happened afterwards was baffling.
Max Verstappen went for a tyre change as he had nothing to lose, because Lewis was dominating the whole race. Mercedes decided to leave Lewis out, so that they do not lose track position.
There was a strong possibility that the Safety Car would go until the end of the race, however, in a late decision the FIA decided to allow the drivers to race for one lap.
They also allowed backmarkers to overtake the Safety Car, bringing Max right behind Lewis on fresh soft tyres. This allowed the Dutch driver to easily overtake Lewis and win the race and the championship.
The 2021 Formula 1 season ended in dramatic and controversial circumstances in the title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton seemed in complete control and on course to win a record-breaking eighth world title until a late safety car flipped the race on its head and enabled Max Verstappen and Red Bull to capitalise.
A late crash for Williams driver Nicholas Latifi resulted in a full safety car just a few laps from the end of Sunday’s 58-lap showdown.
The race was restarted with a lap to go and Verstappen – who had pitted for softs – was able to use his tyre advantage to pass Hamilton on the final lap to clinch his maiden world title.
Mercedes argued that the usual safety car restart protocols were not followed after only some lapped drivers were allowed to unlap themselves, putting Verstappen directly behind Hamilton. But both of the team’s two protests were ultimately dismissed by the FIA.
Here is how the hugely dramatic and controversial ending played out over team radio following Latifi’s race-ending crash…
Christian Horner: “Why aren’t we getting these lapped cars out of the way?
Michael Masi: “Because Christian, just give me a second… My main big one is to get this incident clear.”
Horner: “You only need one racing lap.”
Having initially instructed that lapped cars could not overtake, a new message was put out by race control on Lap 57 which read: “Lapped cars Norris, Alonso, Ocon, Leclerc and Vettel to overtake SC.”
The safety car ends at the end of Lap 57.
Toto Wolff: “Micheal this isn’t right. Michael…”
Verstappen passes Hamilton on final lap.
Wolff: “No Michael, no, no, Michael. That was so not right.”
Wolff: “Michael, what was that?”
Hamilton speaks to race engineer Peter Bonnington after dropping to second.
Hamilton: “Yeah this is getting manipulated man!”
Bonnington: “I’m just speechless Lewis…Absolutely speechless.”
Wolff: “You need to reinstate the lap before, that’s not right.
Masi: “Toto, it’s called a motor race.”
Masi: “We went car racing.”
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