Could Verstappen have lost his first world title if Mercedes had appealed after Abu Dhabi ’21?

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Could Verstappen have lost his first world title if Mercedes had appealed after Abu Dhabi '21?

It’s a question that some fans, and perhaps the Mercedes F1 team as well, have been asking themselves since 2021. Nevertheless, we will never get a definitive answer to this, but there has been a precedent since September. This is what the English-language branch of Motorsport.com reports. The ruling after a GT race, which ended in a similar manner, may give an indication of what would have happened if Mercedes had gone to court to appeal against Michael Masi’s decision that gave the team and Lewis Hamilton the world title. cost.

We look back for a moment. In the final phase of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, a race that Max Verstappen and Hamilton started with equal points, Nicholas Latifi (Williams) crashed, after which the safety car came out. The Dutchman immediately drove in for new tires, the Briton stayed outside. Hamilton was a bird for the cat, thanks to race director Masi’s decision to remove the stragglers between him and Verstappen. The seven-time world champion was overtaken by the Red Bull Racing driver during the very last round of the championship and saw his record-breaking eighth world title slip through his fingers at the last minute.

The anger at Mercedes was great. The German racing team subsequently claimed that Masi had not adhered to the rules, but the protest was not heard, nor was the claim that Verstappen had overtaken his competitor for the championship before the safety car expired. Mercedes initially wanted to appeal, but the Silver Arrows still dropped the case. Did they even have a chance of success in court?

GT race ruling as an indication?

In September, an International GT Open event at the Red Bull Ring in Austria ended in similar fashion. Team Motopark filed an official complaint after the race restarted after the safety car with an incorrect order. The team was initially proven right and saw the result of the race annulled, but competitor Optimum Motorsport did not accept this and went to the ‘International Court of Appeal’, the International Court of Appeal of the FIA, where the case was settled.

The ICA ruled in favor of Optimum Motorsport earlier this week, reinstating the race result. The result was therefore not annulled, despite the fact that the appeal court admitted that the competition management had not adhered to the rules. The chance that the Mercedes F1 team would prevail if it had gone to the ICA to dispute the outcome of the 2021 season therefore seems very small.

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