Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2016

Mercedes withdraws Verstappen protest which Hamilton didn’t support

2016 Japanese Grand Prix

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Mercedes has withdrawn its protest against Max Verstappen which Lewis Hamilton said he did not support.

Start, Suzuka, 2016
2016 Japanese Grand Prix in pictures
The Japanese Grand Prix stewards announced Mercedes had protested Verstappen’s defensive move against Hamilton on the penultimate lap of the race, and a decision would be taken at the next round in Austin.

However according to the FIA Mercedes has now withdrawn its protest.

Writing on social media, Hamilton denied he had supported Mercedes’ attempt to take second place in the stewards’ room.

“There is no protest from either myself or Mercedes,” he posted. “One idiot said we have but it’s not true. Max drove well, end of. We move on.”

Hamilton later deleted the post and replaced it with a similar one which read: “There is no protest from myself. Just heard the team had but I told them it is not what we do. We are champions, we move on. End of!”

2016 Japanese Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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134 comments on “Mercedes withdraws Verstappen protest which Hamilton didn’t support”

  1. The first statement is interesting. No protest from himself or Mercedes. Then why was one lodged? (Is Lauda the idiot?)
    Big respect to Lewis though, I like how he puts his foot down here and also acknowledges Max drove well. I like how he accepts that the race is over and so it should be, not like in 2007 (?) when the championship was in limbo for a while because of a protest (?)
    Protest might actually have been useful to determine once and for all the legality, but knowing Verstappen another chance is just around the corner.

    1. Considering his recent conflicts with the media, I think he meant it was false news with “one idiot said”. Clearly on the heat of the moment.

      He deserves respect for not protesting a bold but legal move, one he himself could have made.

      1. to be fair, by ‘some idiot’ he probably meant that some sort of higher power had lodged a complaint.

        1. scary… an idiot with higher power

          1. @ruliemaulana Just switch the news on you see these every day.

          2. Must mean Paddy??

          3. There’s heaps of them mate….one look at the US will tell just how bad it could get.

    2. According to bild, three stewards saw nothing wronig with the move and one (Gary Connely) thought it should be looked into. He then went to Paddy Lowe and convinced him to lodge a protest. Apperently its a desperate attempt to overturn the majority vote. (the article is in german)

  2. Weird! If Merc feels the need, they should go ahead with the protest. I dunno but I see Lewis of 2016 trying to fight and defend the Lewis of 2011 from becoming too powerful this year.

    1. Regardless of opinions, I thought the protest should have been given its course to clarify this area @neelv27 .

      1. Why? No protest, no investigation. It clears enough, doesnt it?

        1. Clears the specific situation, but sets no precedent for “moving on the braking zone”

          1. But it does. There is no rule against it and they dont act against it. That enough clarification for me.

        2. Actually, it is a huge grey area that I like being ironed out. On a straight, a defending driver has the right to suddenly change direction, even using the entire track width if they are fully ahead of the attacking driver. The same right does not apply in or immediately before the braking zone for a corner. Sudden changes of direction just before or within the braking zone are considered extremely dangerous, as they can leave the attacking driver nowhere to go. This rule is not stated explicitly in the FIA sporting regulations, but is considered an “abnormal change of direction” under sporting regulation 20.5.

          1. I think it would look like sour grapes on Mercedes part if Verstappen was penalised. From the team perspective, they have won the title this year, so the only motivation would be regarding the World Drivers’ Championship, and the engraver has already pencilled in “Rosberg” onto the trophy.

          2. “abnormal change of direction” = defending your position
            It’s part of racing. Always has been, always will be.

  3. Ironically if Hamilton had not made the move, he may well have had a chance down the pit straight, but I’d rather a guy make a move than lament not having made one if the next opportunity never actually arises. I suppose it’s just racing in the end

    1. @3dom

      Exactly, thats why i dont get all the commotion around max “moving in the braking zone”. Once you force the move, the overtaking party can move all around and have another advantage, like for the straight after. Seems the current race drivers are not good at chess and have been bored out of skills by drs highway passes.

      1. @3dom @maxv This move by Verstappen is pretty well-known now. I’m sure drivers will take it into account when trying to attack him in future. Knowing you can draw an opponent off-line in a braking zone can be very useful to compromise their exit from a corner.

        1. Webber would have been great following Verstappen. He was king of selling the dummy. We need another brace guy against Max and we will have amazing wheel to wheel racing. Ricciardo has put his hand up. Time will tell if he continues to match Max.

          1. Dont forget that is very difficult to steer while braking as we saw with Hamilton not being able to take the corner. I don’t like how verstappen drives, because most of the time the guy overtaking ends up off track, this is not racing. Next year with more grip the cars will brake even later than now and this kind of moves will end up with someone crashing. Verstappen never defends, he blocks, and in any kind of racing, blocking is not acceptable

        2. @keithcollantine What I’m more worried about is less talented drivers doing it too, whilst being followed by another less talented driver. And when it becomes the norm it will be done in lower categories too, and if they do it soon we’ll see it in GT racing as well. Verstappen might be the current master of blocking with absolute precision the fact it has caught out both Hamilton and Raikkonen shows that it is not that farfetched to approach this tactic with caution.

          1. @xtwl

            He did the same in f3, supposedly with lesser drivers, any accidents up till now?..

        3. Verstappen’s late blocks can force drivers off the track – as they have to take avoiding action to stop a crash… – Rosberg was penalized for less in Germany. Verstappen will only stop this stupid and dangerous late blocking when someone gets hurt.

          1. “Max is just an accident waiting to happen, we will then see the rules changed to prevent moving around in the braking zone, hopefully nobody will get hurt.”

            I think other drivers use their brain more often then him… He thinks it is all cool and fun, until he send someone flying/rolling around…He is a ticking bomb, and it is just a matter of when… not whether he will cause a collision or not…

          2. @mysticus

            The rule states that the car in front may make 1 defensive move off the racingline and then 1 move back to the racingline and that, if the car behind has a significant part of his car (ie frontwing or more), the car in front has to leave a cars width of space (provided that hapens before the braking zone).

            Now, it does not say whén the car should make his move other than not under breaking. Verstappen waiting for the car behind to make his move first is therefor perfectly legal, provided he is not already breaking for the corner when he does it.

            On the Kemmel straight doing 325kph against Kimi they were obviously a long way before the brakingzone into Les Combes. Today they were coming out of 130R and before braking into the chicane. In both instances VES managed to keep the other guy behind (the whole point of defending).

            Both instances haven’t been even investigated, let alone VES beeing penalized nor should he be, because according to the rules IT’S NOT ILLIGAL! There is litterally nothing that needs clearing up, other than some fans not understanding the rules.

          3. @jeffreyj No one is saying it isn’t legal. We know it’s legal. But that’s the problem, it shouldn’t be, it’s very, very dangerous. (Speaking only about Belgium, missed that part of the Japanese GP)

          4. @jeffreyj not defending legality, as some legal stuff outright dangerous and have no precedent to fully justify certain situations! Ves playing by the book, no doubt, but he is stretching the rules beyond safe lately…

          5. Blastermaster
            16th October 2016, 11:30

            Look guys, I understand that this is a sport, but these guys do what they do (at least in the beginning of their careers…) purely for the danger/challenge/adrenaline that motorsport provides them. They all know there is incredible risk involved with this line of work – especially during such things as high speed overtakes….etc.
            I have very good mates in Iraq that risk a whole lot more for a WHOLE lot less. But ultimately, that’s their choice.
            If you want to race around a track really fast & try and overtake someone who wants to fight you for the spot, don’t cry blue murder when he does everything in his power to defend his position. Same applies to the ‘fans’. Quit bloody whinging!
            VES’s moves might not please todays modern ‘safety aware’ naysayers, but for me it represents a bit of an old school racing renaissance.
            Something that these same critics subconsciously scream for.
            Remember – danger equals excitement.

          1. I mean i agree Keith Collantine
            You know he is gonna block so use this as an opportunity
            This is racing in the next generation !!!!

        4. I think that the tables will turn at some point in the future. Red Bull will be fast and Max will be attempting to pass the same guys he is defending on now. Let’s see if they allow him a free pass or give him the same business that he is using now.

    2. I think LH should have waited for the straight since he was closer then ever and his car has the power to do it. Silly move by LH. Everyone knows the bully tactics used by Max. With all them moves on the corners the best option is the straights and RBR weakness. The kid is a bully on track just like Madonado was but with a better car. Bottom line LH should have known better.

      1. The problem was the RB had better traction off the chicane so he wouldn’t likely have been able to make the pass down the pit straight. So he was trying the only other place that he could do it, into the chicane. I suspect Max was deploying his ERS down the pit straight too so in theory he would be slightly slower relatively coming into the chicane.

        Hamilton needed another couple of laps to work it out and then he would have got past in all probabilty.

        Max is just an accident waiting to happen, we will then see the rules changed to prevent moving around in the braking zone, hopefully nobody will get hurt.

        1. I don’t blame the kid if you keep getting away with it why not keep doing it. Let Perez try something like that and he gets hit with the rule book. Perez needs to understand this and play the politics better. Prost had that part down to a science. So yeah Max keep doing it other drivers will just have to adjust.

  4. For what its worth, there’s a video here:

    With Sky F1 commentary of Crofty and Brundle.

    1. In my opinion, his move occurred when Hamilton was clearly behind him (as seen at 00:18 in the video), and its Hamilton’s late-braking manoeuver that makes it appear like Max moved dangerously late.

      1. Well, in fairness, drivers do tend to brake late when attempting to overtake. I think in this instance it wasn’t super dangerous, but, it could have been. And eventually if he keeps doing it, it will cause a crash.

        Theoretically, if Lewis was say, a meter closer and it did cause a crash, who’s fault would it be?

      2. Hans Braakhuis
        10th October 2016, 6:27

        If you want Max to make his move early, do your overtake move earlier.

      3. Its not really dangerous in a slow corner like that. Its not like he did on the entry to spoon.

  5. Sanity prevails. Nothing to see here. The move was legal. I’m not a fan of his driving when people are behind but little wrong with this one.

  6. facepalm

  7. Mighty curious as to who that idiot might have been? Anyhow, I think Mercedes only lodged it in the first place to maximise Lewises chances. Lewis clearly didn’t like the idea of winning at the green table. Kudos to him!

    1. Must have been a ‘higher’ idiot.

  8. Praise to Lewis.

    1. Yeah, Lewis is being a man about and just admits he didn’t get passed before the race was over. I really like that he doesn’t whine and just gets on with it. I respect him for that.

      1. Agree

  9. As much as it was an excellent ‘razor’s edge’ defence, it was also a very average attack from Lewis. I don’t think we’ve seen a wheel to wheel between Max & Lewis before, it’s possible Lewis was a bit uncertain in his approach, possibly also hoped to be alongside before the braking zone, considering his excellent build up from the hairpin.

    Max said he didn’t need boost down the front straight due to the incredible traction the Red Bull provides out of the chicane. It’s likely he was using his boost to prevent Lewis from getting alongside, with the Merc clearly superior in the final sector from the hairpin.

    Smart driving from Max – and I think Lewis recognises that (plus that he braked too late due to the plan not working out.)

    1. Which reminds me, we don’t see enough of the engine modes when stuff like this is on-going. Would it be asking too much to be able to see precisely what toys a driver is or isn’t using at any particular moment.

      1. Agreed, the KERS bar a few years back atleast showed clearly how and when the electrical power was used.

        There must be a sane way to show when a driver is harvesting/deploying without creating a mess of a graph that nobody understands at first glance while watching a battle.

        1. The driver doesn’t know, only the car does– and I doubt the teams are interested in the other teams knowing exactly how they’re using the ERS.

          No reason they couldn’t have a bar graph that’s red on one side (discharging) and green on the other (charging), one for the turbo, one for the engine.

          But it’s under the computer’s control, and responding to how the team programmed that engine mode for that weekend, so it would be giving away team secrets, not driver secrets.

  10. I made the following comment on an earlier article. Looks like its check for the first point:

    Here are a few short predictions:
    1. Verstappen will be cleared (rightly so in this case)
    2. Verstappen will beat Ricciardo convincingly next year (with commentators saying that he now has his eye in at Red Bull even though it will be Management favouring him).
    3. F1 are using him as a marketing tool with orange banks – t-shirts, etc sold competing with the red banks of Ferrrai.
    4. Verstappen is the new golden boy protected from any moves by any other driver.
    5. Verstappen beats an experienced driver to the championship next year.

    It’s a marketing machine and I would do the same. Young guy at coolest F1 brand to bring in more fans. In fact the more aggressive the better for the marketing machine. Take a screenshot of this comment and watch this space.

    1. Brilliant post and indeed something to keep in mind for the future :)

      F1 clearly needed a boost and VES is the man who everybody makes watching f1 again.
      Raw speed combined with a racing attitude.

      Reminds me of a couple of months ago when Heineken (finally) entered the world of F1

      1. Verstappen may eventually be one of the greats– at the moment, he’s a fairly cocky kid who’s a bit hard on his tires, makes some impressive overtakes, and does some iffy defending. He’s won a race, not by being on pole and out-driving everyone (the way Maldonado did in Spain in 2012), but because the two Mercedes took themselves out of the race on lap one, and the team made some questionable decisions regarding strategy for Ricciardo.

        Don’t get me wrong– he’s an F1 driver at a very young age, and that’s wildly impressive– but so was Kimi Raikonnen, and he’s got exactly one WDC, which he got by being in the right place when Alonso and Hamilton were slugging it out.

        I prefer to decide how good an F1 driver is based on his record, rather than his potential– and Max has great potential right now. But he hasn’t realized most of it yet.

        1. Funny how in my book one of the things VES excels at is being incredibly good at managing tires. I think in part because he is incredibly smooth under braking and has real feel for grip.

          IMO this was clear from Barcelona, and it has not changed since.

    2. Convincingly? I think that you are jumping the gun a lot there. I think that these two are evenly matched and the battle between the two will go down to the wire. Hopefully their relationship will remain the same. This is currently the best driver pairing in F1 in my opinion.

      1. True. Ricciardo is on par with Max, maybe a little better. It will be interesting to see how Red Bull goes about supporting both of them in a championship race. My take is that Max will be supported more when it comes down to it.

    3. kpcart