Mercedes confirm they have WITHDRAWN appeal against Verstappen win

Mercedes confirm they have WITHDRAWN their appeal against the FIA over Lewis Hamilton’s controversial loss of the F1 world title, cementing Max Verstappen’s first championship success for Red Bull

  • Max Verstappen had controversially won the F1 world championship on Sunday
  • The Dutchman passed Lewis Hamilton on the final lap to pip the Brit to the title 
  • But unique safety car procedures in prior laps had put Hamilton at disadvantage
  • After the initial post-race protests were thrown out, Mercedes decided to appeal
  • But the team have backed down at the request of a magnanimous Hamilton
  • However Susie Wolff, wife of Mercedes boss Toto, has attacked the FIA 

Mercedes have confirmed they are withdrawing their protest over Max Verstappen’s controversial drivers’ championship victory following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Dutchman passed Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the last race of the season to snatch the crown from under the Brit’s nose following a controversial period of running under the safety car.

In fury, Mercedes had lodged an appeal over the result, but have now decided against the procedure following talks with the FIA – the governing body of F1.

Max Verstappen celebrates winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which sealed his world title

Lewis Hamilton had looked set for a comfortable win to seal a record eighth championship

Sportsmail had exclusively revealed on Wednesday that Hamilton had told the team he did not want to win what would have been a record eighth world championship in court. 

Hamilton had been set to win comfortably at the Yas Marina circuit before Nicholas Latifi’s Williams crashed with just a few laps to go.

This enabled Red Bull to pit for fresher tyres, as well as close a gap to Hamilton under the safety car that was brought out following the crash and prevents overtaking while it is on the circuit while slowing down all the drivers.

But after a controversial safety car, he was passed on the final lap by Verstappen

Team boss Toto Wolff immediately launched an appeal to the FIA following the race

However, on the penultimate lap a unique occurrence appeared when race director Michael Masi allowed only the lapped drivers between Hamilton and Verstappen to unlap themselves instead of the whole field of lapped cars. The process was rushed to ensure a final lap dash for the flag and ultimately the title would take place between the rivals who went into the race level on points. 

In this scenario, Hamilton was a sitting duck with much older tyres allowing Verstappen to make an easy pass on the final lap to deny the Mercedes driver a title which would have taken him clear of Michael Schumacher’s record of seven championships. 

In fury Mercedes launched two post-race inquires over separate incidents concerning the use of the safety car that were thrown out by the race stewards, but were considering their right to appeal.

Mercedes though have since backed down and confirmed their appeal withdrawal with a post on Twitter, reading: ‘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.

Hamilton sportingly congratulates Verstappen after the race following his devastating defeat

The seven-time world champion remained magnanimous on a controversial evening

‘Together we have deliberated. 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 applies 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 the 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 the rules, governance and decision making of Formula One. We also welcome that they have invited the teams and drivers to take part.

Fireworks go off at the Yas Marina circuit following Verstappen’s first championship success

FIA race director Michael Masi made the controversial calls behind the use of the safety car

‘The Mercedes-AMG Petronas team will actively work with his commission to build a better Formula 1 – for every team and every fan who loves this sport as much as we do. We will hold the FIA accountable for this process and we hereby withdraw our appeal.’

The news comes after Susie Wolff, wife of Mercedes team boss Toto, posted a stinging criticism of the FIA, claiming Hamilton was robbed of the world championship.

She posted on Twitter: ‘Going in to this final race weekend, I believed both teams and both drivers deserved to win. It was going to be a spectacle, an historic race that we all hopes would end without controversy. That wasn’t to be.

‘What happened is still hard to comprehend and leaves me with a sick feeling. Not the losing – and not Max or Red Bull – they are deserving winner and we always knew it was a strong possibility we may not win – but the way in which Lewis was robbed left me in utter disbelief.

Susie Wolff (right, with Toto)  revealed her fury at the FIA on Thursday morning on Twitter

‘The decision of one person within the governing body who applied a rule in a way which has never been done before in F1 single handedly decided the drivers’ world championship. Rules are rules, they can’t be changed on a whim by one individual at the end of a race.

Wolff then went on to praise Hamilton’s handling of his devastating defeat, before congratulating Verstappen on his title.

‘Lewis Hamilton, you have shown incredible integrity and dignity in the face of injustice. You are the greatest there has ever been. The outcome of the last laps on Sunday? Those who know, they know, even those who can’t quite bring themselves to admit it.

‘Congratulations Max and congratulations to each and every member of Mercedes-AMG F1 on your record breaking eighth constructors’ title – I hope by March of next year there is a governing body with sporting integrity and fairness at its core so I can fall back in love with F1. ‘

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