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Max Verstappen remains Formula One world champion after Mercedes' protests were rejected by FIA stewards.
Following the controversial finish in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Mercedes lodged two protests in the hope of getting the result overturned and giving Lewis Hamilton a record eighth world title.
The feeling on their part was that the result was unjust due to the safety car that brought all sorts of controversy following Nicholas Latifi's crash with six laps to go on the track.
MAX VERSTAPPEN SNATCHES THE WIN ON THE LAST LAP!! 😰— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) December 12, 2021
A FIRST WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FOR THE RED BULL DRIVER 🏆
📺 Sky Sports F1
#️⃣ #SkyF1 | #F1 | #AbuDhabiGP pic.twitter.com/XyGs0ENZA6
But after reviewing the race in a meeting, both protests were turned down and the race result and podium finish stands - with Verstappen and Red Bull officially declared the victors.
The stewards say the race director is allowed to control the use of the Safety Car, and taking the results from the penultimate lap (as Mercedes requested) "is effectively shortening the race retrospectively, and hence not appropriate." #F1 #AbuDhabiGP https://t.co/MWZEZ6q666— Chris Medland (@ChrisMedlandF1) December 12, 2021
Hamilton had been leading the way throughout and was 11 seconds ahead of Verstappen.
Initially, the instruction from FIA officials was that lapped cars weren't allowed to overtake and were required to stay in the position they were in behind the safety car.
Yet the rule was nixed, and Verstappen, having pitted for new tyres late on, completed an incredible overtake that secured him a memorable win.
Mercedes' protest regarding Verstappen overtaking behind the safety car was dismissed by FIA stewards, and they came to the same decision in relation to the restart situation.
Toto Wolff and his team were hoping for a five second penalty or the final lap to be cancelled altogether. The matter is not completely closed though as Mercedes have lodged an intention to appeal the verdict.
Verstappen's father Jos expressed his pride over his son's win but did also admit the safety car situation proved decisive.
"I'm very proud," he told Sky Sports.
"I mean, of course, because of the safety car we are in this situation.
The team had a good stretch... I mean, they're doing a lot of things very good and I think Max was the driver this year and he really deserved this championship."
Although he might have been furious inside, Hamilton maintained his composure and class after the race - embracing Verstappen and giving an assured interview.
"Firstly, big congratulations to Max and to his team," Hamilton said speaking to Sky Sports.
"But I'm so proud of my own team and we gave it absolutely everything and we never gave up. I've felt great in the car the past couple of months, particularly at the end. We'll see what happens next year."
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