Max Verstappen remains Formula 1 world champion after the FIA rejected Mercedes’ protests. The race management saw no reason to take the title from the Red Bull Racing driver. F1Maximum explains why this is the case and Mercedes has been definitively designated as the loser.
The two protests from Mercedes revolved around Articles 48.8 and 48.12 of the sporting regulations of Formula 1. The first was the protest about Article 48.8. This states that a driver may not overtake another car during a safety car period until the safety car has crossed the line and is back in the pit lane. Mercedes suspected Verstappen of overtaking Lewis Hamilton in sector three just before the restart on lap 58.
The second protest concerned Article 48.12. This rule says that any car that is one lap behind can overtake the cars in front of them and the safety car, so that they are back on the same lap. After that, the safety car would enter the pit lane to continue the race. In an exceptional case at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, race director Michael Masi decided to only allow lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to pass them. Mercedes did not agree with this decision and also filed a protest.
Why Verstappen goes free
An FIA document describes that in the case of Article 48.8, the race management found no criminal offense at Verstappen. The Dutchman would have been in front of Hamilton once, but when the race resumed, this was no longer the case and a penalty was therefore not necessary. In other words: Verstappen took place behind Hamilton at the right time, so there was no reason to penalize.
In case of article 48.12 race management decided to remove the lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen so that they would not affect the battle up front and thus could have played a role in the outcome of the race. In addition, it would have been decided by all teams and the race management to end the race with a race lap anyway. So that became lap 58: the very last lap of the race.
Mercedes appeals FIA decisions
Is it all over now? No not really. Mercedes has announced it will appeal the FIA’s decisions. Much more than that is not yet known, but in any case, Max Verstappen’s world title remains ‘just’ at the moment. This is how an exciting day in Abu Dhabi has come to an end, on which Dutch and international sports history has been written: the Netherlands has a world champion in Formula 1.