Max says Mercedes protest ‘sums up this season’

Date published: December 12 2021 - Jamie Woodhouse

Max Verstappen kneels by his Red Bull. Abu Dhabi, December 2021.

Max Verstappen says the protests Mercedes have lodged after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix are typical of this season.

A late Safety Car at Yas Marina Circuit brought chaos to the closing stages of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, at a time when Hamilton was on his way to seemingly securing a record eighth World Championship.

Verstappen had stopped for soft tyres, avoiding a time hit with the race neutralised, while Mercedes kept Hamilton out to maintain track position.

It was unclear initially whether or not the race would restart, but it did – albeit in controversial fashion.

As per the regulations, Race Control chose to allow lapped cars to overtake the Safety Car, but only those separating Verstappen and Hamilton.

With a clear path, Verstappen then overtook Hamilton on the final lap, going on to secure the victory and his first Drivers’ Championship.

That interpretation of Article 48.12 formed part of Mercedes’ appeal over the result – a move Verstappen feels encapsulates a season of on and off-track bickering and regulatory challenges between Mercedes and Red Bull.

Asked by Motorsport.com what he thought of the protest, Verstappen said: “Not much really to say about that. I think it also sums up a little bit this season.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner admitted he was disappointed to see this course of action from Mercedes, but stated the team had put their “trust” in the FIA.

“We are disappointed there has been a protest, but we trust in the FIA,” he said.

 

Also part of Mercedes’ protest was the possibility Verstappen had overtaken Hamilton momentarily behind the Safety Car.

Once the lights went out to signal the Safety Car was coming in, Verstappen and Hamilton were side by side for a time, neither driver willing to be caught out by the other for that final crucial lap.

But with a clear tyre advantage for that all-important final tour of Yas Marina, Verstappen was able to make the overtake, going on to win and claim his first World Championship – as it stands.