Mercedes withdraws Formula One championship protest, but says it lost 'faith in racing'

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The Mercedes Formula One team has withdrawn an appeal made against the results of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where its driver, Lewis Hamilton, lost the race and world championship on the final lap under controversial circumstances.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen passed Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton on the last lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
(Getty Images)

Hamilton was leading the race under caution when race control allowed lapped cars to pass him in order to bring second-place Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen alongside for a single-lap sprint to the finish. Verstappen had pitted during the yellow flag period for new tires and was able to pass Hamilton for the win and the championship.

The decision, including bringing the safety car in on the same lap that the backmarkers were waved by, was unprecedented and not clarified by the rule book.

The Abu Dhabi win claimed the Formula One driver’s championship for Max Verstappen.
(Andrea Diodato/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“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 in a media release, adding it protested because rules “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 championship).”

The appeal was made “in the interest of sporting fairness,” Mercedes said.

Mercedes, Formula One and its governing body, the FIA, are now creating a commission that will include drivers and teams to analyze the situation and update the regulations to prevent a similar situation in the future.

Hamilton was leading the field during the safety car period.
(GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

The team also used the release to officially congratulate Verstappen on his championship. Despite the race loss, Mercedes won the constructor’s championship.

“We would like to express our sincere respect for your achievements this season,” Mercedes said in its statement. “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.”

Verstappen will be formally awarded his title at the FIA awards ceremony in Paris on Thursday evening.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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