Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team dropped plans to appeal the outcome of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Thursday and congratulated Max Verstappen as the Formula One world champion.
Red Bull’s Verstappen, 24, seized the title after overtaking seven-time world champion Hamilton on the last lap of the race amid uproar over how a late safety car period was conducted.
Mercedes welcomed the governing FIA’s decision, announced on Wednesday, to analyse what happened at Yas Marina and bring clarity for the future. “We will hold the FIA accountable for this process and we hereby withdraw our appeal,” the team said.
Mercedes had announced their intention to appeal after two post-race protests were dismissed. The deadline was Thursday evening.
“We left Abu Dhabi 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,” Mercedes said.
“Together with Lewis, we have deliberated carefully over how to respond... we have always been guided by our love of this 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 safety car was deployed five laps from the end after Canadian Nicholas Latifi crashed his Williams, with marshals needing to be on track to recover it. Racing resumed with one lap remaining after race director Michael Masi broke with a protocol requiring all lapped cars should overtake the safety car first.
Instead, only those between Verstappen and Hamilton unlapped themselves, giving the Red Bull driver a clear track to close on Hamilton and overtake.