Mercedes has opted not to appeal the result of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which saw Max Verstappen controversially beat Lewis Hamilton to the Formula One title Sunday.
The decision removes any doubt about Verstappen’s status as 2021 world champion.
Mercedes was furious at how the race finished, after FIA race director Michael Masi appeared to ignore certain parts of the sporting regulations in order to ensure the title battle was decided by one final lap of racing after several laps behind the Safety Car.
The hasty restart gave Verstappen the opportunity to pass Hamilton on the final lap, helping him secure the championship with a race victory.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team protested the race results after the chequered flag, with a focus on the articles of the sporting regulations that had been ignored to get racing back underway for one final lap.
Those protests were dismissed, but Mercedes lodged its intention to appeal, giving the team four days to build a case. However, on Thursday, the team confirmed it will not be pursuing any further action.
The team cited the FIA’s commitment to “a detailed analysis and clarification exercise” over what transpired over the final laps as key to dropping its appeal.
Mercedes said it “welcome the decision by the FIA to install a commission to thoroughly analyse what happened in Abu Dhabi and to improve the robustness of rules, governance and decision making in Formula 1. We also welcome that they have invited the teams and the drivers to take part”.
Hamilton and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff are required to attend the FIA Gala on Thursday evening to receive the runners-up and constructors’ trophy, respectively. Neither has spoken to the media since the protest was lodged on Sunday evening.
Wolff’s wife, Susie, gave a hint at what the prevailing feeling in the team might be on Thursday morning, posting to Twitter that she hopes F1 can have “a governing body with sporting integrity” by the time next season starts in March.
The Mercedes statement in full:
“Dear Formula One community and fans,
“We left Dubai in disbelief of what we had just witnessed. Of course, it’s part of the game to lose a race, but it’s something different when you lose faith in racing.
“Together with Lewis, we have deliberated carefully over how to respond to the events at the Formula 1 season finale. We have always been guided by our love of sport and we believe that every competition should be won on merit. In the race on Sunday many felt, us included, that the way things unfolded was not right.
“The reason we protested the result on Sunday was because the Safety Car regulations were applied in a new way that affected the race result, after Lewis had been in a commanding lead and on course to win the World Championship.
“We appealed in the interest of sporting fairness, and we have since been in a constructive dialogue with the FIA and Formula 1 to create clarity for the future, so that all competitors know the rules under which they are racing, and how they are enforced. Thus, we welcome the decision by the FIA to install a commission to thoroughly analyse what happened in Abu Dhabi and to improve the robustness of the rules, governance and decision making in Formula 1. We will hold the FIA accountable for this process and we hereby withdraw our appeal.
“To Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing: we would like to express our sincere respect for your achievements this season. You made this Formula 1 Championship title fight truly epic. Max, we congratulate you and your entire team. We look forward to taking the fight to you on the track next season.
“And lastly, even though this Drivers’ Championship did not end the way we hoped, we could not be prouder of our team.
“Lewis, you are the greatest racer in the history of Formula 1 and you drove your heart out for every lap of this incredible season. You’re flawless sportsman on and off the track and you delivered a faultless performance. As a pure competitor and as a role model for millions around the world, we salute you.
“Valetteri [Bottas], you have been such important part of this team, delivering five Constructors’ Championships in five seasons. Thank you for your remarkable contribution to our motorsport history.
“Finally, to every one of the skilled and passionate women and men of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team in Brackley and High Performance Powertrains in Brixworth; you’ve written a historic chapter in the Silver Arrow story by winning the eighth Constructors’ Championship — in a row. This is an unprecedented achievement. In simple words: it’s awesome. You are awesome.”