Mercedes have decided to withdraw their appeal against the result of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, confirming Max Verstappen as champion.
Sir Lewis Hamilton and Verstappen entered the final round of the season level on points following a thrilling season of racing, and Verstappen took pole for the final grand prix of 2021.
Hamilton flew past him at the start and, despite Sergio Perez’s best efforts, was comfortably leading out front.
With a handful of laps remaining, however, Williams’ Nicholas Latifi put his car in the wall and brought out the Safety Car, allowing the Dutchman to pit for a fresh set of soft tyres.
Concerned about the possibility of the race not restarting, Mercedes opted not to pit Hamilton in order to maintain track position. They were also confident that lapped cars would have insufficient time to pass the Safety Car.
Race director Michael Masi initially ruled that none of the lapped cars in the field would be permitted to go through, but following pressure from Red Bull, Masi made an unprecedented decision.
He let the five cars between Verstappen and Hamilton go through, but due to time constraints held the rest of the lapped runners – this seemed to be in contradiction of Formula 1’s regulations.
Verstappen then passed Hamilton on the final lap, winning the championship as a result.
Mercedes protested the stewards’ decisions, as well as what they believed was an illegal restart by Verstappen, but saw both of them denied.
Moments later, they lodged an intention to appeal, but they have today withdrawn this.
In a statement, the Mercedes F1 Team said: “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.
“Together with Lewis, we have deliberated carefully over how to respond to the events at the Formula 1 season finale.
“We have always been guided by our love of this sport and we believe that every competition should be won on merit. In the race on Sunday many felt, us included, that the way things unfolded was not right.
“The reason we protested the race result on Sunday was because the Safety Car regulations 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 World Championship.”
Continuing, the Silver Arrows stressed that they “appealed in the interest of sporting fairness, and we have since been in a constructive dialogue with the FIA and Formula 1 to create clarity for the future, so that all competitors know the rules under which they are racing, and how they will be enforced.
“Thus, we welcome the decision by the FIA to install a commission to thoroughly analyse what happened in Abu Dhabi and to improve the robustness of rules, governance and decision making in Formula 1.
“We also welcome that they have invited the teams and drivers to take part.
“The Mercedes-AMG Petronas team will actively work with this commission to build a better Formula 1 – for every team and every fan who loves this sport as much as we do.
“We will hold the FIA accountable for this process and we hereby withdraw our appeal.”
Mercedes also took the opportunity to finally congratulate Verstappen and Red Bull on winning the 2021 Drivers’ Championship.
“To Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing: we would like to express our sincere respect for your achievements this season,” they added in their 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.
“And lastly, even though this Drivers’ Championship did not end the way we hoped, we could not be prouder of our team.
“Lewis, you are the greatest racer in the history of Formula 1 and you drove your heart out for every lap of this incredible season. You’re a flawless sportsman on and off the track and you delivered a faultless performance. As a pure competitor and as a role model for millions around the world, we salute you.
“Valtteri, you have been such an important part of this team, delivering five Constructors’ Championships in five seasons. Thank you for your remarkable contribution to our motorsport history. Kiitos, Valtteri.
“Finally, to every one of the skilled and passionate women and men of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team in Brackley and High Performance Powertrains in Brixworth: you’ve written an historic chapter in the Silver Arrow story by winning the eighth Constructors’ Championship – in a row.
“This is an unprecedented achievement. In simple words: it’s awesome. You are awesome,” they concluded.