Hamilton Gracious in Defeat as Mercedes Protests Fail

Hamilton Gracious in Defeat as Mercedes Protests Fail
Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes launched two protests which ultimately failed but Lewis Hamilton was gracious in defeat after Max Verstappen’s remarkable last-lap overtake at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.

Verstappen was crowned Formula 1 world champion for the first time amid controversy as he overtook Hamilton on the last lap after the safety cap had allowed him to catch up but also go past the back-runners.

Mercedes fumed at that decision from race director Michael Masi when he permitted Verstappen to overtake the five lapped cars as the safety race pulled aside for a final lap battle between the dominant pair.

Verstappen and Hamilton had come into the final Grand Prix level on points, so the victor of the final lap would be world champion, with the Dutchman remarkably getting the upper hand on newer tyres having pitted upon the safety car’s arrival.

That seemed entirely improbable when Hamilton led by 11 seconds with 10 laps to go, but there was a remarkable twist, yet seven-time Hamilton was gracious.

“Firstly a big congratulations to Max and to his team. I think we did an amazing job this year,” Hamilton said immediately after the race.

“My team, everyone back at the factory, all the men and women we have, and here, have worked so hard this whole year. It has been the most difficult of seasons.

“I’m so proud of them, so grateful to be part of the journey with them. We gave it everything. This last part of the season we gave it absolutely everything and we never gave up and that’s the most important thing.”

Mercedes lodged two protests citing articles 48.8 and 48.12 of the F1 sporting regulations which were both dismissed.

On 48.8, Mercedes claimed that Verstappen had overtaken Hamilton under the safety car, which stewards determined may have marginally occurred but was corrected before the race resumed.

On 48.12, Mercedes argued around the handling of the lapped cars, with Masi only instructing the five cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to move aside. That was also dismissed.

On the last lap, Verstappen said: “Everything was clear so why would you then run another lap behind the safety car? Its just when everything is clear you have to release the track so I think that’s a fair point from the race direction. Of course, now it worked for me but it can also work against me, I know that.”

Ben somerford
Sports Pundit staff writer @bensomerford
Australian journalist who specialises on all sports, focusing on football, tennis, basketball and racing, having written for global publications including FourFourTwo, AAP, Inside Futbol and many more....

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