12 December 2021

Max Verstappen finally confirmed as world champion as Mercedes protests rejected

12 December 2021

Max Verstappen was eventually able to celebrate his maiden Formula One world championship after two appeals from Mercedes were rejected by race stewards following the Dutchman’s thrilling last-lap victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver stormed past title rival Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages of the season-ending race at the Yas Marina Circuit, having benefited from a late safety car that bunched up the pack.

Hamilton appeared to be charging to glory, easily holding Verstappen at bay in the closing laps only for a crash for the Williams of Nicholas Latifi to change the course of events.

Confusion reigned as under-fire race director Michael Masi changed his mind to allow lapped cars to pass the safety car, meaning Verstappen had a clear run at Hamilton in the final lap and on much faster tyres.

The Dutchman broke into tears as he crossed the line, professing his love for his team and sitting by his car after bringing it to a stop.

Mercedes immediately launched two appeals against the result, one against Verstappen for allegedly overtaking under a safety car and a second claiming a breach of rules regarding race restarts following a safety car period.

Both were dismissed after the two teams spent hours in the stewards’ office, Verstappen able to toast his title more than four hours after crossing the finish line.

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