By Chris King • 12 December 2021 • 19:17
One of the most thrilling endings in race history occurred in today’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen passed Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of 58, to clinch his first F1 world title.
The Mercedes team have since launched not one, but two protests, over the result, and the incidents that led to that dramatic final lap.
They are claiming that an alleged breach took place when the race director Michael Masi, allowed the lapped cars to be overtaken. A second claim is that Dutch driver Verstappen overtook Hamilton while the Safety Car was still out.
Hamilton looked set to claim his eighth world title until Nicholas Latifi spun off the track with five laps remaining. As a result, the Safety Car was brought out, and the cars all bunched up, destroying the Brit’s comfortable lead.
Red Bull took advantage of this moment to bring their driver in for a new set of soft tyres, while Mercedes left Hamilton out on his old tyres. Michael Masi seemed to change his mind about the five lapped cars on the circuit.
At this point, the five cars separated the two title challengers, and Hamilton looked odds-on to win. But, by then suddenly allowing them to un-lap themselves before calling the Safety Car in, this left the field with just one lap, on 57 out of 58, and the two drivers side-by-side on the track as they started racing again.
Going into Turn 5, Verstappen made his fresh tyres count and jumped Hamilton. The Brit fought back and almost regained the lead, but the Dutchman closed him down, taking the chequered flag, and the world championship.
Article 48.12 of the FIA Sporting Regulations states that “any cars that have been lapped by the leader will be required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the safety car”, Mercedes have pointed out in their protest, “against the classification established at the end of the competition”.
Similarly, Article 48.8 of the same regulations says, “No driver may overtake another car on the track, including the safety car, until he passes the line for the first time after the safety car has returned to the pits”.
There is definitely going to be a lot of talk about his, and we have certainly not heard the end it. We will keep you updated.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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