Sir Lewis Hamilton has told Mercedes that he does not want to win an eighth world championship in court — and his team will announce on Thursday they are ditching their appeal against his controversial defeat in Sunday’s title decider in Abu Dhabi.
Hamilton missed out on a record-breaking eighth crown in the most contentious circumstances as the late withdrawal of the safety car allowed Dutchman Max Verstappen to pass him on newer tyres — and claim the championship for the first time.
A statement on Wednesday night from the World Motorsport Council, sitting at Place de la Concorde in Paris, has placated Mercedes by committing to learn lessons from a ‘tarnished’ season and thus avert what would inevitably be a bloody and unedifying appeal, which would have to be lodged by 7pm on Thursday.
Sir Lewis Hamilton has told Mercedes he does not want to win an eighth world championship in court
His team will announce ditching of their appeal against his controversial defeat in Abu Dhabi
Hamilton missed out on the world championship to Max Verstappen, who won his first title
Sportsmail understands that Hamilton has been key to Mercedes’ revised position and, though bitterly sore at being deprived of the triumph he wanted most, thinks it in the best interests of the sport not to proceed down the legal route. That is despite Mercedes’ lawyer, Paul Harris QC, believing he has an overwhelming case to present.
The FIA’s compromise statement was the result of high-level talks between the top echelons of the deprived team and the wider Mercedes Benz company, on one side, and FIA president Jean Todt and secretary general Peter Bayer, on the other.
‘The 2021 FIA F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has prompted a large number of reactions from the F1 community, as well as in the public,’ read the FIA statement.
‘The circumstances surrounding the use of the safety car following the incident of driver Nicholas Latifi, and related communications between the FIA race direction team and the F1 teams, have notably generated significant misunderstanding and reactions from F1 teams, drivers and fans, an argument that is currently tarnishing the image of the championship and the due celebration of the first drivers’ world championship title won by Max Verstappen and the eighth consecutive constructors’ world championship title won by Mercedes.
Max Verstappen overtook Lewis Hamilton late on to claim a controversial win in Abu Dhabi
The FIA’s statement was the result of talks between Mercedes and FIA president Jean Todt (R)
‘Following the presentation of a report regarding the sequence of events that took place following the incident on lap 53, and in a constant drive for improvement, the FIA president proposed to the World Motor Sport Council that a detailed analysis and clarification exercise for the future with all relevant parties will now take place.
‘This will be discussed and addressed with all the teams and drivers to draw any lessons from this situation and clarity to be provided to the participants, media and fans about the regulations to preserve the competitive nature of our sport while ensuring the safety of the drivers.
‘Following that presentation and an extensive discussion, the World Council has decided to unanimously support the president’s proposal.’
The development came on a day Hamilton took his mother, Carmen, to Windsor Castle as he was knighted by the Prince of Wales. While the investiture was happening, Verstappen, 24, was welcomed as the all-conquering hero at Red Bull’s factory in Milton Keynes.
It came on a day Hamilton took his mother, Carmen, to Windsor Castle as he was knighted
Verstappen was welcomed as the all-conquering hero at Red Bull’s factory in Milton Keynes
Speaking ahead of the presentation of the trophy at Thursday’s gala dinner in Paris, Verstappen’s team principal Christian Horner said: ‘The win hasn’t sunk in yet. It won’t until we see Max pick up that trophy. But as far as we’re concerned, Max is the world champion until someone says otherwise.
‘This is an issue between Mercedes and the FIA. Max has done absolutely nothing wrong. We complied with the rules. He won the race. He won the world championship. We’ve received him here as the world champion.’
At the centre of the furious debate has been Michael Masi, the 42-year-old race director, who ripped up the usual safety car protocols to fit in a final lap shootout rather than see the season end under an anti-climactic safety car.
The Australian, in his third year in post since taking over on the sudden death of his predecessor Charlie Whiting, is under pressure for his job, and the FIA, perhaps to their discredit, did not stand by their man in their statement.
Horner, a sometime critic of Masi, though the super beneficiary of his decision-making, declined to call for his head.
Verstappen’s team principal Christian Horner (L) said the win hadn’t yet sunk in for Red Bull