Hamilton ‘asked Wolff to withdraw protests’ – report

Date published: December 14 2021 - Jon Wilde

Toto Wolff with his arms around Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. Yas Marina December 2021.

Lewis Hamilton urged Toto Wolff to withdraw the protests against the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix result, a Dutch website has claimed.

Mercedes were straight in with two protests, both of which turned out to be unsuccessful, after Hamilton had an eighth Drivers’ World Championship snatched from his grasp on the final lap by Max Verstappen at Yas Marina.

While the Constructors’ champions for an eighth consecutive season protested that Verstappen had briefly overtaken Hamilton behind the Safety Car, their more salient allegation appeared to be the one regarding the process in which the lights were turned green for one final racing lap.

Race director Michael Masi later admitted he had been eager not to finish the race behind the Safety Car, having stated in the stewards’ hearing that “it had long been agreed by all the teams that where possible it was highly desirable for the race to end in a ‘green’ condition (i.e. not under a Safety Car)”.

But in achieving that aim, he allowed only five drivers to un-lap themselves instead of all eight who were in that position, the other three of which were behind Verstappen on the road – thereby giving the Red Bull driver, on much fresher soft tyres, a free shot at Hamilton.

Website f1maximaal.nl ran a live blog throughout the aftermath of the race, reporting all the developments as Red Bull and Mercedes each made two separate visits to the stewards with a break in between.

During that break, they reported a rumour with the context being that “sources from the racing world in England” had told them Hamilton “is said to have asked Wolff to withdraw the protests against Verstappen and Red Bull”.

Of course, that did not happen, with Mercedes having barrister Paul Harris QC on hand with them at the circuit.

Around 45 minutes after that rumour was published, the FIA announced the protest regarding overtaking under the Safety Car had been dismissed, and another 40 minutes after that the other protest met the same fate.

 

However, that is not yet the end of the matter. Mercedes subsequently stated their intention to appeal against the verdicts and they had 96 hours to make that official, so confirmation would have to happen by Thursday.

Verstappen was finally free to celebrate his first World Championship late on Sunday night in Abu Dhabi, but there remains a real chance that the very last act of an unforgettable 2021 season could be played out in a courtroom.