Can the FIA ​​take away Verstappen’s world title? These are the scenarios

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Max Verstappen finally won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon, with which the Red Bull driver secured the world title. However, a lot happened in the closing stages of the race and, according to Mercedes, violations and procedures were carried out incorrectly, according to the Red Bull rival. Thus, there is a question mark behind Verstappen’s title, can the FIA ​​still take the title and what are the associated scenarios?

In total, Mercedes appealed against three cases and/or incidents on the track. First of all, there is the controversial decision by race director Michael Masi to allow only part of the cars to pass behind the safety car. In a safety car situation, cars that have been lapped are normally allowed to pass the safety car, after which the race is resumed. Under some circumstances the cars on a lap are not allowed to overtake the safety car, for this the race director has to decide specifically based on the track conditions.

However, Masi opted for a compromise a few laps before the end: he reversed the decision not to be allowed to overtake the safety car and instead allowed only the cars between Verstappen and Hamilton to overtake the safety car, presumably for the title battle between the influence two as little as possible. However, that choice is not in the regulations and therefore the race director, technically speaking, goes against the rules. Mercedes has protested against this and is thus filing a protest against the race result, not Red Bull.

If Mercedes proves right in the case against the FIA, the question remains what the consequences will be. Because Masi’s action is not described in the rules book, a counter-action is also not included in the rules. A creative solution must therefore be found for the situation that has arisen. If it is found that Masi’s action and thus the race result is impure, it is a possibility that the race result of a lap before, so with Hamilton in the lead, will be made official. In this case, Verstappen will lose the title.

Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning that Masi has the formal power to modify or overrule certain procedures during the race, including the safety car regulations. Whether Mercedes can achieve a different race result remains to be seen.

Swinging on the straight and ‘bullying’ under the safety car

Then there are two other protests that Mercedes has filed. Number two is the swinging of Verstappen on the straight. When a driver defends his position against his opponent, he may only change line once on the straight, according to the regulations. However, after his overtake on Hamilton, Verstappen did this several times. However, a penalty for this offense is not very realistic, as race officials normally issue a warning before a second penalty is issued.

The third offense, also aimed at Verstappen, has to do with the driving behavior of the Dutchman during the safety car. When the safety car lights go out, the race director (in this case Hamilton, ed.) may set the pace. Verstappen came alongside the Brit during that moment, with the Dutchman’s front wing occasionally sticking out in front of Hamilton’s. So in a sense, Verstappen ‘passed’ Hamilton, even though it was a few centimeters on the track. Despite the fact that what Verstappen did was technically wrong, it had no impact on the track situation and did not offer Verstappen an advantage (the driver then distanced himself again). Moreover, we have seen the incident more often in recent years, where no punishment was also handed out.

If the stewards nevertheless decide to hand out a penalty for one of Verstappen’s two actions, a penalty of five seconds is obvious. In that case, Verstappen loses the title, as Hamilton was within five seconds of Verstappen when the Dutchman crossed the finish line.

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