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F1

Why did Mercedes protest after Verstappen beat Hamilton to F1 title?

In a thrilling ending to the 2021 Formula 1 season at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, controversy was created and question marks raised over the decision.

Update:
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 12: Race winner and 2021 F1 World Drivers Champion Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 12, 2021 in Ab
Bryn LennonGetty Images

Mercedes protested on Sunday after Red Bull's Max Verstappen won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and beat their seven-times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton to the 2021 world title with a last lap overtake.

The team, who still secured the constructors' crown for a record eighth year in a row, protested two alleged breaches of the sporting regulations when the safety car was deployed late in the race.

A statement from the stewards said Mercedes had protested "against the classification established at the end of the competition", arguing there was a breach of article 48.12.

Verstappen had back markers between him and Hamilton after pitting with the safety car deployed and time running out for racing to resume.

Race director Michael Masi decided that only the five lapped cars between the two title rivals should be allowed to unlap themselves, instead of all lapped cars as is the usual procedure.

33 VERSTAPPEN Max (nld), Red Bull Racing Honda RB16B, action during the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2021, 22th round of the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship from December 10 to 12, 2021 on the Yas Marina Circuit, in Yas Island, Ab
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33 VERSTAPPEN Max (nld), Red Bull Racing Honda RB16B, action during the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2021, 22th round of the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship from December 10 to 12, 2021 on the Yas Marina Circuit, in Yas Island, AbAFP7 vía Europa PressAFP7 vía Europa Press

In a second protest, Mercedes also argued that article 48.8 was breached with Verstappen's car moving in front of Hamilton's before racing resumed as he waited impatiently for the Briton to lead away.

It is illegal to overtake, unless authorised to do so, while the safety car is on track.

Mercedes said they would make no further comment until after the hearing.

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