Mercedes May Go To Court To Appeal Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Result After Max Verstappen Controversially Snatched F1 World Championship Title From Hamilton On The Final Lap

(DAILY MAIL) – Mercedes were last night ‘discussing’ taking the fight for the Formula 1 world championship to court as the controversy over the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix continued to rage on.

British fans were left claiming Lewis Hamilton was robbed of an eighth World Championship after a decision by race directors to allow some of the lapped cars to overtake a safety car and set up a one-lap drag race between the British driver and his arch rival Max Verstappen.

Verstappen overtook Hamilton to claim the win and also snatch the World Championship.

Hamilton’s team launched a pair of protests against Verstappen’s title-winning victory amid the highly contested decision, but they were quickly dismissed and Verstappen was confirmed as the world champion in the second defeat of the night for Mercedes.

However, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was last night locked in talks with the team’s barrister, Paul Harris QC, a distinguished sports lawyer who has acted for Premier League football clubs, including Manchester City and Liverpool.

Mercedes confirmed: ‘We have lodged our intention to appeal.’ That was after their initial protest into the safety car incident that cost Hamilton victory was rejected by the stewards four hours after the end of the race.’

One insider indicated that no legal option was off the table. Mercedes now have 96 hours to confirm whether they will press ahead with the appeal.

Hamilton led the entire race and was in total control after overtaking the Red Bull driver at the first corner of the race, but a safety car in the dying moments gave the Dutchman the opportunity to wrest the title away from the British driver’s grasp.

Hamilton appeared to be cruising to an eighth championship, before Williams driver Nicholas Latifi crashed into the wall amid a duel with Haas’ Mick Schumacher just five laps from the end of the Grand Prix.

A virtual safety car was initially called and Verstappen and Red Bull used the opportunity to pit and fit fresh soft tyres, while Hamilton had no choice but to keep track position and stay out on his deteriorating hard tyres.

However, a full safety car was subsequently called by Race Control, bunching up the field and all but wiping out Hamilton’s lead.

For a moment it looked as though the race could finish behind the safety car with Hamilton and Verstappen separated by five back-markers, but on the penultimate lap of the race, race control allowed the lapped cars to pass the safety car.

This meant that Verstappen was right behind Hamilton going into the final lap, which allowed the Dutchman to make full use of his soft tyres and racing guile, executing a heart-stopping pass to take his first World Championship.

Verstappen screamed with elation as he crossed the line, and was mobbed by his Red Bull pit crew who were clamouring to congratulate their star driver as soon as he jumped out of the car in parc ferme.

A dejected Hamilton, meanwhile, sat in his Mercedes for several minutes, seemingly in shock at how events had transpired against him in the final laps.

Fellow Brit George Russell, who will join Hamilton at Mercedes next season, was the first to lead the backlash over the circumstances which allowed Verstappen to dramatically seal the title.

Russell tweeted: ‘THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!!!!

‘Max is an absolutely fantastic driver who has had an incredible season and I have nothing but huge respect for him, but what just happened is absolutely unacceptable. I cannot believe what we’ve just seen.’

The drama-filled race began from the very first lap when the title rivals nearly collided. 

After Hamilton overtook Verstappen on the first corner, the Red Bull driver launched his Red Bull up the inside from several car-lengths back at Turn Seven, with Hamilton forced to take evasive action and leave the track to avoid a collision.

Verstappen screamed with elation as he crossed the line, and was mobbed by his Red Bull pit crew who were clamouring to congratulate their star driver as soon as he jumped out of the car in parc ferme.

A dejected Hamilton, meanwhile, sat in his Mercedes for several minutes, seemingly in shock at how events had transpired against him in the final laps.

Fellow Brit George Russell, who will join Hamilton at Mercedes next season, was the first to lead the backlash over the circumstances which allowed Verstappen to dramatically seal the title.

Russell tweeted: ‘THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!!!!

‘Max is an absolutely fantastic driver who has had an incredible season and I have nothing but huge respect for him, but what just happened is absolutely unacceptable. I cannot believe what we’ve just seen.’

The drama-filled race began from the very first lap when the title rivals nearly collided. 

After Hamilton overtook Verstappen on the first corner, the Red Bull driver launched his Red Bull up the inside from several car-lengths back at Turn Seven, with Hamilton forced to take evasive action and leave the track to avoid a collision.

There was a brief flicker of hope for Verstappen 22 laps from the end when the broken Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi caused a brief Virtual Safety Car phase.

Red Bull took the opportunity to pit Verstappen and fit fresh tyres to hunt down Hamilton, who stayed out. It was a final throw of the dice.

When racing resumed, the gap was 18 seconds with 22 laps remaining.

Hamilton appeared worried over his team radio, but put in stellar laps to ensure Verstappen would run out of time to catch him.

But in a dramatic moment in keeping with the rest of this incredible season, Williams driver Nicholas Latifi crashed into the wall with five laps remaining, triggering a late safety car.

Verstappen took yet another free stop, fitting soft tyres for maximum attack. But time was running out. Would the safety car even come in?

It did. Verstappen powered through at Turn 5, and though Hamilton pursued his foe valiantly down both straights, he was helpless on his old, worn rubber and the young Dutchman powered away to cross the line and take his first ever World Championship.