Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2021

Mercedes’ protest ‘sums up the season’ says new champion Verstappen

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen says Mercedes’ protest over the restart at the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix “sums up” the often controversial 2021 season.

At the end of a year filled with controversy between himself and championship rival Lewis Hamilton, a final furore unfolded over the conclusion to the season finale. The race was restarted on the final lap after a Safety Car, following which Verstappen passed Hamilton to take the win and the world championship.

Mercedes lodged two separate protests within 30 minutes of the chequered flag – the first arguing that Verstappen had passed Hamilton illegally at the restart before the Safety Car line, the second regarding whether the correct restart procedure was followed as only some lapped cars were allowed to overtake on the same lap, and did so as the race restarted.

When asked about his reaction to Mercedes’ protest over the events at the end of the race, Verstappen said he felt it was a reflection of the way the season have unfolded.

“Not much really to say about that,” Verstappen said. “I think, also, it sums up a little bit the season.”

The sporting regulations state that under Safety Car a race should be restarted on the lap after lapped cars were allowed to un-lap themselves. FIA F1 race director Michael Masi allowed lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to unlap themselves before restarting the race on the same lap, while the others kept their positions.

Verstappen agreed with the decision to allow the race to end under a green flag.

“Everything was clear, so why would you then run another lap behind the safety car?,” he said.

“Whenever it’s clear I think you have to release the track. So I think that’s a fair point from the race direction. Of course, now it works [for me] but even it can also work against you. I know that.”

Having been crowned as world champion for 2021, Verstappen says he has now achieved “everything” in the sport.

“Of course, in terms of achievements, I have achieved everything in Formula 1 now, so everything that comes next is just a bonus.”

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2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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63 comments on “Mercedes’ protest ‘sums up the season’ says new champion Verstappen”

  1. Mercedes max they are within the laws to agree and disagree

    1. FIA rules

      Unlapped cars should unlap themselves
      The safety car should then leave the circuit on the following lap, clause 39.12

      That means the race was over! One corner to negotiate.

      It should be a slam dunk appeal from merc no thanks to masi’s farcical race direction.

      1. Key word “should”, not “must”. Right there it is up to the Masi.

    2. Sure but some internal evaluation at Mercedes should highlight the option that if they hadn’t been such whiners all year it wouldnt have come to all of this.

  2. Max needs to learn when to stop talking.

    1. Because he tells the truth?
      He answers the question asked.

      1. If Max is telling the truth, then we were unkind to cheaters like Lance Armstrong. I think Hitler and Stalin were also misunderstood and paragons of truth…

        Max is the worst thing that happened to this sport. It’s not that he won. It’s that he didn’t win and yet was handed a championship.

        1. You lost me at mentioning Hiter and Stalin to make a point about a motor race…

          1. The Hitler vs Stalin rivalry of the early 1940s was an immense and often controversial battle.
            Hitler was known for his speed of course, but had a bad habit of taking things too far.
            /s

        2. Comparing Max to Hitler…. I’ve seen it all…

          1. You can’t make this stuff up. Brilliant!

          2. @ RocketTankski, brilliant.
            @ Michael, perhaps time to step away from the keyboard for a bit…

        3. Mark in Florida
          13th December 2021, 2:26

          The Woke have spoke. Come on the world is still spinning. Lewis will be back next year and hopefully Ferrari will be bringing Merc to tears for a change. Max isn’t Hitler or Stalin to say things like that is to diminish what these two did. These two raced each other incredibly hard all season and made the races worth watching in my opinion.

        4. Reductio ad Hitlerum, your argument is no such thing.

  3. I think it is important to remember that this mess isn’t Mercedes’, Red Bull’s, Hamilton’s or Verstappen’s fault. It’s all on Masi and FIA. It’s a shame that the champion will be decided by the stewards and the courts, but I’m sure that if the positions were reversed, Red Bull would’ve also protested and Mercedes would’ve likewise derided Red Bull’s protest.

    1. Blaize Falconberger (@)
      12th December 2021, 18:26

      COTD
      Thank you :-)

    2. Exactly this, we can all agree they have been fantastic to watch (in the background while we focus on the amazing racing we have seen up and down the field all year 🤔 right?)

      They have not given any quarter and shown that they are only human at times. Best of all, no matter what the fans and the media have said, no matter how much like toddlers their bosses have acted like, they have both kept a fist bump for each other all season long!

    3. 100%.

      The FIA need to apologise and promise to do better in future.

      You can’t change the result though. That would massively damage the sport.

      1. Results get changed all the time post race. People start saying stuff like this when it’s their driver, and are nowhere to be seen when it’s not

        1. Well, remember when they changed the result of Spa 2008 in favor of Massa? It was terrible headlines right?
          I’m sure LH wouldn’t want to win a championship on court. It’s Toto who can’t stop whining. The same goes for Horner obviously. He would be the one crying out loud if things had been the opposite, not Max.
          So respect for the two gladiators we have seen this season. Their bosses and Masi are real clowns.

          1. I don’t disagree at all, although I will say, the headlines are going to be terrible no matter what. Masi truely did bring the sport into disrepute.

          2. Toto likely had little choice but to protest, purely from a commercial perspective. The team will have lost millions because of this. If the FIA didn’t follow their own rules, any company would protest.

        2. Race results don’t get changed – people get penalised. What are you going to penalise Max for?

    4. True, but in all fairness if Mercedes would have kept their cool earlier in the year it wouldnt have triggered things at FIA. They surely added fuel literally everywhere. I looked at their post race behavior at Silverstone again and cant help but see them lose the championship right there. If the energy they put in getting the others down would have been put in racing, they might just have made it. Karma would Alonso say

  4. one reason not to like this guy winning. He swear that last lap was perfectly fine even if it obviously wasn’t.

    Just say you did your part and have nothing to do with Masi’s poor work man, have some class at least once.

    1. You can argue that masi was wrong, but max did nothing wrong here.
      He passed Lewis on better tires as a result of bad strategy by Mercedes. They too could have stopped for new tires.

      1. that’s exactly what i said. he has nothing to do with masi’s incompetence.

      2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        13th December 2021, 2:23

        They couldn’t have stopped. Once Lewis gave the position, there’d be no final lap. The final lap was a request from Horner to Masi without cars. Horner would have asked Masi to end the race with Verstappen ahead.

    2. He was in the car and did nothing wrong today.

      We as spectators have a lot of info, many camera angles, the commentators’ opinion and much more.

      All of these are not available to the driver to always correctly assess the situation or the fairness of a decision.

  5. IMHO Red Bull would have done the same as Merc if roles were reversed.

    The rules allow for a protest and IMHO Merc have a chance of winning the lapped cars issue. What a win by Merc looks like, no idea.

    1. most likely a Lewis WDC as the ruling would finish the race under yellows,assumption is that 1 extra sc lap is needed to allow ALL cars to unlap themselves and make themselves get close to theend of the snake .

      Masi exposed himself when he panicked and made up rules on the fly to give max the best chance on fresh softs to challenge lewis. Also he avoided using and conventional methods to try and restart as that would not benefit max:
      allow cars to fully unlap=lewis wins because there will be no more laps left.
      dont allow cars to unlap=highly likely Lewis wins, lapped cars would be a huge buffer under restart as max cant overtake lapped traffic until he crosses the line

      It isnt sour grapes from merc as they have a valid case under the letter of the law

    2. True – do you think the reaction in here would be the same if the roles were reversed and people would be saying Lewis’ win was hollow and was not deserved?

      1. Yeah, most of his wins have been

  6. The passing under Safety car was turned down.

    From Stewards
    Having considered the various statements made by the parties. The Stewards determine that
    although Car 33 did at one stage, for a very short period of time, move slightly in front of Car 44,
    at a time when both cars where accelerating and braking, it moved back behind Car 44 and it was
    not in front when the Safety Car period ended (i.e. at the line).

    Accordingly, the Protest is dismissed and the Protest Deposit is not refunded.

  7. Yes, it did. It summed up the season that this is the start or borderline of an entertainment-biased sport. As I have said in another comment, if Masi really wanted to script a showdown at the end and putting the hypothesis that he could decide anything, he could have just red flagged and do a standing start, allowing Hamilton and Verstappen to have free choice of tyres. The fact that the rule book stating a clear black and white scenario, was not followed is what really triggers me and makes me think that the sport is becoming more focused on entertaining rather proper application.

    Nothing against Max, but this is not what we wanted. The fact we have both teams protesting because of the rulebook not being followed by the stewards is just insane and it looks really disgusting. Now what? OK let’s say they give Hamilton the win and Verstappen in 2nd… I really wish this is over because this looks really bad and I don’t like the outcome of the season, even though Hamilton lost. I would have rather had a red flag and then Verstappen overtaking Hamilton on track. Not this. It’s a thrilling ending, but not the proper way. This will be embarrassing if Verstappen has his title stripped really.

  8. He is not wrong! The last 4 races have just been so political.

    The season looked so good until Austin! The GOAT of all seasons. Yes, there were 2 flash-points (Silverstone, Monza) but the racing was largely clean and stewards got involved in only the major misdemeanors. But Brazil (Turn 4), Qatar (rogue marshal comments), Saudi (brake test, running wide in turn 1), and now Abu Dhabi (Lap 1 incident, 1-lap restart); has just turned the whole contest so ugly.

    On the balance, both Lewis and Max deserved to win this championship equally. Just too many incidents, luck changes across the 23 races to say that one driver deserved more than the other. Hence, I do hope they don’t change the result now.

    1. Don’t forget imola, Hungary, spain, surely there were more controversies. What a season

  9. If max didn’t follow safety car rules he should get penalty for that

  10. Still playing the victim even after winning the championship. I mean well done Max but just go an enjoy your championship will you and pipe down a bit. Thanks!

    1. I feel there is some value here to get a comment from the WDC. He and we should all make sure a tainted season like this never ever happens again. In the end they still made it, but against all adversaries and corruption it was quite a challenge.

  11. Rule 15.3 The clerk of the course shall work in permanent consultation with the Race Director. The Race Director shall have overriding authority in the following matters and the clerk of the course may give orders in respect of them only with his express agreement:

    Sub E: The use of the safety car

    So I think it is pretty clear what was allowed and what not.

    1. Blaize Falconberger (@)
      12th December 2021, 19:03

      we shall see :-)

    2. This section is about the relationship between the clerk and director. Interpreting it to mean the race director can do anything he wants without justification on any of those points is ridiculous, as well as incredibly dangerous.

  12. This I clear breach of 48.12. Even if the sc let’s half the cars through he must come in on the FOLLOWING LAP not immediately!

    1. If i’m not mistaken 48.12 reads “Should” come in…Not “Must” come in…, Correct me if i’m wrong, but I have seen several versions. So open for the RD to make the call on if it is safe/good to go racing again or not.

      1. Unless the clerk of the course considers the presence of the safety car is still necessary, once the last lapped car has passed the leader the safety car will return to the pits at the end of the following lap.

        My emphasis.

  13. “Everything was clear, so why would you then run another lap behind the safety car?”

    Because the rules very clearly state that the Safety Car goes around for one more lap after the last lapped car has gone past. It’s very unambiguous.

    1. Which part of OVERRULE don’t you get

      1. Blaize Falconberger (@)
        12th December 2021, 19:04

        stop shouting

    2. Unlap themselves with less than one lap remaining. Logic!

  14. Interesting how the comments on this site after Baku were strongly against the red flag and that they should have kept the safety car out until the end of the race and now the comments are in favour of a red flag with a few laps of racing instead of the race simply ending under safety car

  15. Maybe Keith can make a year review on all protests or semi-protests.

    It was very annoying

  16. Not a fan of Hamilton at all, but today Masi reminded me of those WWE referees dressed in black-and-white stripes.

  17. F1 broke the rules – the championship can’t stand. I guess the teams will all share the profits equitably.

    1. Get used to losing. I warned you that “the hype” will win and causing a lot of frustration for you.
      Number one will haunt you next year.

  18. Let them race!
    This was a final race and they must be decided it on the track and not under the process under SC.

    If you a true fan then you should support races and not courts/protests.

    1. I do support races, but races occur under a set of rules. For the officials to change the rules, especially in a way which so blatantly influences the result of the race and championship, is just wrong.

  19. Mercedes were never going to lose gracefully, Complain about the race direction if you want, but don’t protest to strip verstappen of the title…sour.

  20. Both deserved to Win, Repeat of Schumacher Damon Hill comes to mind!
    Except it was Mick doing it to Williams this time to decide the Championship!!

  21. I feel sorry for Masi. Yes he is indecisive and inconsistent but trust me people would also get angry at him if he decided to end the race with a safety car. At the end of the day, F1 is a business and Masi delivers.

    1. They would, but that’s part of being an official. You cannot please everyone. What you can do, though, is follow the rules instead of making up a new one on the spot which significantly affects the result. If the rules are followed, you’ve done your job as a “referee”, if not you’ve failed and it is right that you are criticised over it.

  22. A guy winning the championship who needed his teammate’s help in the qualifying and in the race. The inevitable desparate first lap lunge and then needed FIA criminal help in the final lap of the race to “Finally” win it against the guy who was doing it all on his own in qualifying, got a better start on less grippier tire, dominated the race and was cheated out of a race win.

    Yes i know who really won the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP and the WDC. Despite the overall quickest and most adaptable car this season, you couldn’t beat Lewis.

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