Red Bull ready to settle title fight in law court as Mercedes consider appeal

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Red Bull are prepared to fight Mercedes every step of the way as their rivals bid to overturn Max Verstappen’s world championship victory.

Mercedes brought two protests over the outcome of yesterday’s controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which Verstappen won after passing Lewis Hamilton on the final lap. Both protests were rejected by the stewards, who confirmed Verstappen as the winner of the race and therefore the world champion.

However Mercedes have since formally notified the FIA they intend to proceed with an appeal over the handling of the final restart of the race.

The team was enraged by FIA F1 race director Michael Masi’s U-turn on a decision not to wave lapped cars past the Safety Car before the restart. Masi eventually chose to allow five of the eight backmarkers through, enough to bring Verstappen within striking range of Hamilton.

Having given notice of their intention to appeal, Mercedes now have to decide whether to proceed. Horner said Red Bull are prepared for whatever legal steps their rivals might take.

“If they appeal, they appeal,” he said. “We’ll fight it in the appeal court and then in a legal court after that.”

Mercedes’ protest over the outcome of the race “felt a little bit desperate”, said Horner. “We didn’t want it to finish in front of the stewards.

“They’ve been great competitors this year and Lewis has been a phenomenal driver. It’s had its moments, it’s been tense, it’s been tough. But we’re just delighted with the outcome and very proud of Max, who’s been phenomenal all year.”

Horner said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Mercedes proceed with an appeal. “But I think the race director made his position clear, the stewards made their position clear and the ruling is very clear.”

Asked whether Mercedes’ move could jeopardise the FIA’s planned prize giving ceremony for its world champions on Thursday, Horner said: “I hope not.”

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2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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96 comments on “Red Bull ready to settle title fight in law court as Mercedes consider appeal”

  1. Cas and the eu need to be involved to save the reputation of the sport.. fia mafia and massi did a singapore 2008 and covering they’re asses the fia are a joke they’ve been trying to stop Mercedes with these crap clipped floor rules that allowed the drinks company to compete.. when Mercedes and ferrari embarrassed them all these years. Smh

    1. If FIA is against Mercedes, then why in 2014, the FIA let Mercedes have a 3 year head start to develop their engine, which no other team managed to top ?

      1. Are you mistaking Mercedes for Renault?

        1. You really sounded uninformed now.. serious. You missed a lot it seems.

    2. I actually agree it should go to a court above the FIA. Not to change the championship result (because the original intention was to restart with lapped cars remaining where they were, and so Max would still have had a chance to win), but to start the process of improving the way the sport is governed.

      What Masi did seems to have been without precedent and made up on the spot. There’s a strong case that it contravened the rules he’s supposed to be enforcing, and we know he understood this because he realised there were not enough laps remaining to let cars unlap themselves, hence the original message to not overtake.

      He did this to help “the show”, which was no doubt a direction given to him across the entire season by Liberty Media, at the expense of doing what they would have at any other race. Ironically that’s something Christian Horner was adamant was a priority, to treat this race like any other, which did not happen.

      Keep Max as champion. He deserves it (even if Hamilton does too). But the FIA and Liberty Media need to be held to account for their consistent effort to muddy the rules in deference to “the show”. It’s not good enough.

      1. @simon999 100% agree with this. The championship result shouldn’t be changed but what happened should never be allowed again. The only circumstance a race director should be allowed to circumvent the rules is when safety necessitates it. Not to manufacture a battle between only 2 drivers in the field.

        Also, imagine if roles were reversed what Horner and Red Bull would be doing or saying about it?!!?

        1. The problem with letting Max keep the win, is then setting a precedent that it’s okay to do a scandal like this, cause then they get to keep the championship even it the scandal is overturned in court later. It is actually much more complicated than just doing partial justice. Because it isn’t a race win. It is the World Championship.

          1. 100% agree. What makes it worse is the way RB celebrated the ‘win’. Disgusting

      2. @simon999 With all due respect, just to correct you it would be very unlikely max would win if the race restarted with only 1 lap to go and lapped cars in place as Lewis could tactically sprint early to start the last lap whilst slower cars on older tyres would by default ‘hold’ max up as he cannot overtake until the start finish line..this delay would be enough of a gap for Lewis to stay in front for the last lap.
        masi knew this that’s why he invented new rules to help max and moved the cars out of the way so max is right behind Lewis.
        Max isnt to blame for this and the most fair outcome was for the last green lap with lapped cars in place, Max would still get close to Lewis for the hype drama finish Liberty media/drive to survive wanted but nope that wasn’t good enough and masi/race control wanted max right behind lewis on the restart for an easy overtake on brand new softs.
        Again you cannot invent FIA rulings on the fly to benefit only one driver, this isn’t the WWE. Even if you forget about Lewis for a moment other drivers got impacted by the stewards bizarre new rules, drivers like carlos sainz in 3rd was disadvantaged because he was behind traffic and couldn’t potentially challenge max.

        Also i totally disagree with you about not overturning the results, the results need to be reversed for the legitimacy of F1, meddling and on the fly rule breaking by the race stewards cannot be left unpunished, if there is no deterrent what will stop them doing this in the future?

        Also If lewis can be excluded from Brazil quali because of his rear wing being 0.2 mm out of spec due to ThE RuLeZ Mercedes are more that entitled to challenge the result of this race no thanks to artificial meddling by race control inventing rules out of thin air breaking FIA protocol.
        If Merc are not above the ‘law’ neither are the FIA and FOM and Daimler are fully well aware of this!

      3. The problem with reversing the result is its Not the Fault of Max that the Race Director decided to pull the rug from under Sir Lewis! You could argue that if the race was red flagged all drivers would have changed for fresh rubber and that Either Lewis or Max could have won. And that would have been fair.
        Te situation is now what it is the descision by Masi nullified the Championship by maipulating the outcome.
        . Perhaps the ruling should be that the 2021 season was a non event?
        Hamilton will not want the title handed to him in court I think he’d be happy if the result stood but the FIA admitted that their poor implementation of the rules may have deprived him of his 8th title and issued an appology.

    3. Definitely agree about Merc taking this to the Court of Arbitration for Sport; being an external court (i.e. not the FIA) they’re the most likely to rule on how badly FIA screwed up and how, or if, it can be resolved.

      1. Not sure how much jurisdiction the EU courts would have, I guess it depends on where the legal entities are based. The FIA are based I Paris, Red Bull are registered in Austria, but based in Milton Keynes (UK), while Merc are German registered but based in Brackley (UK), and of course with the UK not being part of the EU anymore I’m not sure how much power the EU can have on it.

        1. Since it is not a private sport and sports personalities involved are representing their country’s flags, they have a lot of say and jurisdiction.

        2. The EU courts would be involved only in so far as they are the courts that would come into play if any of the parties disputes the FIAs standing as sole regulator in this matter (Briatore went to the EU courts after his ban for Crashgate, because he argued that his position as team boss at the time actually was not one regulated by the FIA rules, and he won that one).

          1. I can’t see how anyone could argue that the FIA is not the sole regulator of the FIA Formula One World Championship.

      2. @RandomMallard

        The FIA doesn’t recognize CAS as an arbiter, aside from for doping related matters. FIA is a member of WADA, which is bound by CAS, so on doping matters, FIA is bound by CAS as well.

        Mercedes only option is to go to FIA’s International Court of Appeal.

        1. The FiA literally has a paragraph on their website about how if you don’t accept their appeals decision, the next step is the CAS. Beyond that, they have taken and been taken to the CAS dozens of times. Beyond even that, the FiA contribute to the CAS anti doping committee.

          Will you stop lying. Are you so narcissistic that you think if you say it, it comes true, or are you deliberately spreading misinformation?

          1. @Will Jones

            You are probably confusing the The International Court of Appeal is the final appeal tribunal for international motor sport.

            “The International Court of Appeal is the final appeal tribunal for international motor sport.”


            And I said that FIA does recognize CAS when it comes to doping matters, so nothing in my comment seems to be wrong.

            I await your apology.

          2. @apaje

            13.1 For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in these rules shall prevent any party from pursuing any right of action which it may have before any court or tribunal, subject at all times to such party having first exhausted all
            mechanisms of dispute resolution set out in the Statutes and regulations of the FIA

            So Mercedes have to go through the FIA ICA first who have the same power as the stewards to apply any penalties or change any result, after that, any court (such as the CAS) is open to them.

            One little tid bit, the regulations say any review to the appeal decision (which affects a championship result) must be requested before 30th November of that year. So given the extension of the F1 season into December, that was unlikely thought through. There will be no opportunity within the FIA for further review once the ICA hands down their decision.

          3. I won’t apologise for calling a liar a liar. You said the fia does not recognise the CAS. The fia not only recognise the CAS, they use it regularly, it’s used against them regularly, and they turn up and follow the procedure, and they are so integrated with it, the fia’s anti doping committee advise and contribute to the CAS anti doping committee.

            Your a liar, I will never apologise for calling you one. I will delight in drawing attention to your lies regularly, exactly as I regularly draw attention to the fact that erikje has never posted on the comments section of this site while the red bull media centre has a power cut. Gfy.

          4. Will you stop lying. Are you so narcissistic that

            sunds like a reflection of you.. everything alright?
            You obviously confused several acronyms and do not know what they are about.
            No problem, we will enlighten you. ( of there is power that is ;)

    4. That’s not enough.
      We should involve NATO, UN, blues helmets, Kaio, grand Master Kaio, Goku, Superman and Batman.

    5. FIA Cannot govern themselves. They are the judge and the jury, it won’t work

      I didn’t expect the FIA to overturn their own controversial decision. That’s like saying to the whole world – yeah, Masi our Race DIrector screwed up. However, there is no fault here to RBR, Horner or Max. They pressured Masi but there’s surely nothing wrong with that? Anyone would probably do the same.

      The responsiblity is with Masi to make the right call. Now i know why some people do not deserve leadership positions!

  2. I don’t think the FIA are biased, but the stewards ruling sounded very much just like they were trying to cover the appalling race direction.

    This will end up going to a legal court as the FIA aren’t going to admit they’ve messed up and change the result unless they’re legally made to (if they’re made to).

    Some ‘legal experts’ have given their opinion that Mercedes have a case, and there’s not much else that the FIA and/or Red Bull can supply in defence, but I’d still be surprised if the outcome gets changed.

    I wanted Hamilton to win yesterday but I’m not sure it’ll feel satisfying now even if it was overturned.

    1. I think there might be a reasonably strong defence for not overturning the championship result. Merc’s argument is that if the rules were followed as they should have been, the race would have finished the safety car and therefore Lewis would definitely have won.

      But I’m not sure that is true. The original intention was to keep lapped cars in place and race for one lap. Had that have happened, Max might still have won (albeit a much slimmer chance). I think Merc would have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that as soon as Masi told some cars to overtake, 48.12 was triggered and the safety car couldn’t come in for another lap. I think Red Bull could provide enough doubt to prevent that.

      What Merc could do though, is force the FIA and Liberty Media to change how they govern the sport and to put more emphasis on clear and consistent rule making/enforcement. That would be a decent win for F1.

      1. What Merc could do though, is force the FIA and Liberty Media to change how they govern the sport and to put more emphasis on clear and consistent rule making/enforcement.

        The only way to do that, in my opinion, is to appeal. Otherwise FIA will just sweep the whole thing under the rug. Even though appealing probably won’t change the outcome, the process would most likely show that Masi blatantly ignored the rules.

        I think Merc would have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that as soon as Masi told some cars to overtake, 48.12 was triggered and the safety car couldn’t come in for another lap.

        I think this is pretty obvious. I don’t think the rules can reasonably be interpreted any other way – and they never have before. Whether the results can be changed afterwards when the race director decides to ignore the rules, is another thing.

        1. @hotbottoms Hit the nail on the head with that final paragraph. The rules have clearly been broken. The question now is how, or even if, this can be rectified somehow. The stewards said they didn’t feel retrospectively shortening the race was the way to save this, and I agree with this because it opens too many other doors and rabbit holes, but I have a feeling that if it gets up to somewhere like the Court of Arbitration for Sport we could see some other outcome.

          1. Agreed – though the “how to resolve things” question bears further conversation. Mercedes suggested keep the lap 57 positions which as you note was rejected on the grounds that it arbitrarily shortened the race. Perhaps they should have phrased it as “since the safety car should have been out until the end of lap 58 and no overtaking should have been permitted, keep the lap 57 positions through to the end of the race. No elegant ways around this; what Masi did was a catastrophic mess that neither team deserved. I do suspect that he was getting instructions from his sales/marketing bosses to finish under green “at any cost”; now we get to see just how high the cost was.

        2. I agree, I want to see an appeal for that very reason. Those in charge won’t change their ways unless an external body shows their incompetence and highlights the need for change.

      2. @simon999 This is very important. “Reversing the decision” would have led to those 5 cars staying in place, but Merc cannot then just claim that this would 100% mean Hamilton would have won, because there are too many variables at play for that to stand up to legal standards.

        Definitely agree about the need to fix this in the future. I think over the next couple of years (it’ll be difficult to do immediately) the FIA need to completely re-write the sporting regulations, firstly to update them to more modern standards, but also to remove all the contradictions in them (such as the SC procedure, and then saying the Race Director has overriding authority over the SC). These have come about, I expect, after many years of bodging new rules in to fix other problems, without fully assessing their wider impact. Maybe every few (maybe 5?) years they should have a proper assessment of the regulations, completely rewriting them to solve any potential problems introduced by rule changes in that period.

        @callmeacynic 100% agree. I don’t think there’s corruption involved, but simply the FIA not wanting to acknowledge they’re wrong.

        I don’t think either side can be truly satisfied with this, no matter the outcome.

        1. I would also imagine Hamilton won’t want to be given an 8th title this way, even if he would likely have won were it not for Masi’s actions. He could never know for sure he’d have won if they’d have raced for one lap with lapped cars in the way, and overturning the winner would inevitably turn a large group of F1 fans against him.

          Hopefully it fires him up for next season. New cars. New team-mate. New era to make his mark on before retiring.

        2. @simon999 I think the case will hinge on whether, legally, the safety car should have come in at the end of the following lap, as per the regulations.

          I don’t think Mercedes have asserted that the lapped cars should have stayed in position for the final racing lap, they’re making a case that the safety car then returned to the pits a lap too soon.

          If that is found to be the case, it’s much easier to argue that track positions would have been maintained.

        3. Just my (one-off) 2 cents/pennies as a ‘legal expert’, F1 fan, and fierce opponent of the current SC and Red Flag rules.

          Some ‘legal experts’ have given their opinion that Mercedes have a case, and there’s not much else that the FIA and/or Red Bull can supply in defence, but I’d still be surprised if the outcome gets changed.

          This ‘legal expert’ says Mercedes has ‘no case’. Mercedes did not have a lapped car, and thus was not impacted by ‘any/all lapped cars may overtake’ instruction (19.12). Only the competitors of the ‘lapped cars’ can appeal the botched execution of this rule (maybe Mercedes can ask McLaren to protest; but I guess that is too late).
          Only 19.13 applies to Mercedes, and that rules was executed in line with the way it is written as it only determines the ‘clerk of the course to decide’ without referring to any pre-requisite.

          And if Appeals/CAS/EU/God review this and determine that there was inconsistent application between the various rules, they can only nullify the race in its totality. Only the Race Director (or if protested, the Stewards) can shorten a race and call it as the final result!
          I doubt they will rerun it, thus it will only change the statistics as far as wins and points scored, and add a weird equal points finish in the WDC

          I am fiercely opposed to the ways the rules for SC (resetting gaps) and Red Flags (re-tyre, repair damage, etc) are written and executed.
          Masi should have called a Red Flag immediately, if he really wanted to ‘have a car race’. There were enough laps for an exciting finish.
          But under my ideal Red Flag and SC rules there would be no resetting of gaps let alone new tyres. This of course would mean that Hamilton would have won Abu Dhabi (deservedly). And he would have reduced his gap to Verstappen earlier in the season as Spa should never have been awarded a points-giving race status.
          It would not change the WDC though as Imola was as much a travesty of these rules as the other instances were. And as much as the WDC is supposed to be the best driver/car combination, it seems quite fitting that Verstappen won this season as he was overall the superior driver (and Mercedes the superior team).

          PS Racefans hasn’t really improved yet in the way they reported on this event. Headlines and quotes are purely picked to get as many clicks and set up the extreme responses.
          And I’m off again :P

          1. edit: Of course those references should be ‘39.12’ and ‘39.13’.

            PPS Red Bull is not even part in this protest (they were in the other one).

          2. What if they found to be fixing the race?

            What about Mercedes even though didn’t have lapped cars that effected, they argue that their competitor is treated to an unfair starting position that he gained massively.

            And you say they can’t argue lapped cars, I disagree that they can because decision is made incorrectly and sc sent away improperly hence the result gave a massive advantage to competitor.
            The race at the point in time would finish under SC, because there was not enough time to let cars and have safe distance to send sc away at the same time, also the rule says sc would retire following lapped cars.

            In all likely scenerios, only red flag and no lapped cars allowed would give the slightest chance for redbul to win and that is a big if. This is purely race fixing level of decision.

            Ham could easily start differently had he been given enough notice of the decision of lapped cars and unheard of sc retiring at the same time. If we consider “ifs” to ve determination factor.

            Race director directly involved in the race altering decision incorrectly following rules or not following the rules at all.

            I m not so sure about the assessment of they can’t complain directly for the lapped car decision, if it directly effected the starting positions of the race which otherwise would make it either very difficult or impossible for max to be in the position he ended up being.

            I wouldn’t discount the race result can be changed argument.

          3. And if Appeals/CAS/EU/God review this and determine that there was inconsistent application between the various rules, they can only nullify the race in its totality. Only the Race Director (or if protested, the Stewards) can shorten a race and call it as the final result!

            Presumably the appellate body (whoever they are) could, in theory, annul the stewards’ decision to dismiss Mercedes’ protest – since it is that document which is being appealed – and remit the matter back to the stewards to decide how to proceed, based on the court’s interpretation of the regulations. However, in practice I think the chance of any of this happening is low.

        4. And if Appeals/CAS/EU/God review this and determine that there was inconsistent application between the various rules, they can only nullify the race in its totality. Only the Race Director (or if protested, the Stewards) can shorten a race and call it as the final result!

          That is completely incorrect.

          10.10.1 The ICA has all the decision-making powers of the authority that took the contested decision.
          10.10.2 In addition, the ICA may admit or dismiss the appeal, in whole or in part, and may decide to confirm, waive, mitigate or increase the penalty inflicted. It may annul or amend the results of a competition, but it is not empowered to order any competition to be re-run.

          1. Thanks for that. I was clearly wrong assuming what ICA can do.
            Next you tell me God has even more powers ;)

            This doesn’t take away that Mercedes, as a non-lapped car, was not (directly) part of the incorrect/incomplete execution of rule 39.12, and from a legal point of view their claim should be inadmissible.

      3. @simon999 again i disagree with “if they restarted with lapped cars in place max would still win” line .
        Thats completely false, do you forget that under the restart Lewis was in 1st controlling the pack and with lapped cars acting as a buffer between him and max he could sprint early to start the last lap knowing that max cannot overtake ANY car until he crosses the line, this would create a big enough gap for Lewis to be safe even on ancient hards.

        THIS is the main reason why race control ordered ONLY the buffer cars out of the way because they knew Lewis was safe barring a lockup or “act of god” so invented new rules to artificially place Max behind Lewis to give him the best chance of winning.
        This will be one of the key arguments Mercedes will be litigating in court, race stewards knew every other standard scenario would result in a Lewis win so they created a new one just for max(I say just for max because no one else especially carlos sainz in 3rd who was behind traffic did not get the same treatment) to have a high probability of winning.

        Looks like a solid case for Mercedes . The biggest problem is how the FIA are going to spin and crisis manage this disaster if the WDC gets handed to Lewis?

    2. 50% of lawyers in every case are right and 50% are wrong so ……………………………………..

  3. Netflix could make this into a spin-off series: Better Call Brawn.
    Watch your favourite F1 managers, lawyers and spin doctors battle to win through a series of shady deals and slanderous TV spots.

  4. F1 is a sport and a show at the same time, always has been. This is not the first “drama”, far from it.

    Any decent court should just dismiss the case and tell teams and whole F1 organisation to settle it between themselves. Silly rich companies and rich drivers arguing who is faster, come on.

    F1 is, just like any other “sport” is just a show, a business, a product we watch to pass some time, have fun, and in case of F1 witness some amazing feats of engineering. Every sport has it’s version of a referee and they are the facto the law maker during the game and ruleset is basically just a “guidebook”. Let’s not pretend similar things don’t happen in other sports.

    1. A comparable situation in soccer would be that a referee decided to completely ignore the rule book and award a penalty kick at the last minute of the game, even though the ball is at midfield. Would the result of the game be changed afterwards, if the penalty kick decided the game? I’m not sure, but I’m certain that the referee would never referee another game after that and it would be a huge scandal.

      1. And that what he’s done is ok because there’s another rule that says the referee has overall final say even if in contradiction to the other written rules!

        1. @oweng Thing is in football, that is 100% the rule. The referee’s decision is final on the pitch. There can then be debates, claims, lawsuits etc off the pitch but on the pitch the referee has the final say on any decision

          1. Exactly this.

        2. There is no rule in F1 that states that. There is a rule which states that the Race Director has full authority to override the Clerk’s safety car decisions, and some people saw “The race director has full authority” and went all sov cit on us, deciding that it meant he can ignore any rule he wants. He can’t.

          1. read 15.3 again ( probably the first time) and ask a adult to help you interpret it.

      2. @hotbottoms To extend that analogy though, I think it would be difficult to rule on because the team who had the penalty awarded against them probably wouldn’t be able to prove that they wouldn’t have conceded a goal anyway in the final few seconds, i.e. there are likely too many variables to rule in the plaintiff’s/claimant’s favour.

        Obviously in football the likely decision would be to see the match replayed but the sheer logistics of F1 make this nearly impossible.

        One lap shootout in a Haas to decide the championship anyone?

        1. One lap shootout in a Haas to decide the championship anyone?

          That would be garish, artificial and baseless… in a word: PERFECT for Liberty Media! You should pitch them the idea, they wouldn’t think twice about it!

          P.S: the only thing I would add to this incredible idea is: make the venue a dirt track.

      3. @hotbottoms yes, football referee can do exactly this and it would be legal for whatever reason referee has. Also, referees can make mistakes in making quick decisions and this is also legal- competitors can just “deal with it”.

        But I think your analogy is a bit of a stretch. More fair analogy would be a questionable free kick from 25 meters in the 95th minute of the match that scores and wins the world cup. Dramatic and questionable yes, perhaps it was a mistake, but is it something some EU or UK court should be dealing with? I don’t think so.

        This is sport/show, you win some and lose some. In case of Mercedes and Hamilton- they won most of the time and lost rarely because they have been superior for the most of the last 8 or so years and no referee could infulence different result for most of their winning seasons.

        1. @schmi
          I think my analogy is much more accurate. The procedure for the SC is stated in the rules and Masi took the SC out too early. In the same way, a penalty kick should never be awarded if the ball and the players are at the midfield. It’s not that Masi misinterpreted the rules or the situation, but he ignored the rules altogether.

          I don’t necessarily think that the results in either of these situations should be changed. But I don’t think such blatant ignoring of the rules would go without consequences to the referee in other sports and neither should it go without consequences in Formula One. If Masi resigns or is fired, then I’m content even though I think that Hamilton should’ve won the race.

        2. I have seen a game replayed before because a team fielded an inelgible player….. Refs can have opinions on fouls and stuff, but -they can just rewrite the rules of the game on the spot and tell the oppo team they can now pick the ball up and run it into the other net, or dismiss half a team for no reason, or any other kind of match altering rule for the last 2 mins of the game for just one player of the 22 or a full team, it dont work like that and i bet they would replay the game to just keep the interigty of the sport.

          The idea of sport is that all participents winning or losing race under the same rules, that was not the case here so it is fair to assume race fixing or race manipilation and it was clear to most as even the race commentators said if Masi didnt do what he did, we would not have got a final lap……….. Sainz was certainly not happy to have has his shot at max / LH by the guy in charge of safety, or have his place come under threat from behind trying to pass back markers…. While MV got a free pass…..

  5. They have barely taken over the sport and the controversies have started. How soon before we see drivers slamming each other with chairs.
    We have to ask, is it sports or entertainment. If it’s just for the show then too much money is wasted by the teams when decisions are arbitrary.

    1. I expect this will end up in the Court of Arbitration for Sport. But against the FIA, not RB. Red Bull haven’t really done nothing wrong here, they’ve taken advantage of the situation. It’s just that situation is so deeply flawed that it’s going to go on for months.

      Merc will exhaust all their routes of appeal within the FIA first (which will make it much easier to then appeal to CAS), but I don’t see the FIA being particularly keen on admitting they were in the wrong. Whether CAS will then change anything I don’t know, but it’ll hopefully give the FIA the kick up the backside they need to realise how flawed the sporting regs are (full of contradictions, vagueness, up for a lot of interpretation etc).

      1. Not meant as a reply, but we’ll go anyway

        1. Slight addition to this:

          Red Bull haven’t really done nothing wrong here,

          This is assuming they didn’t ask Masi to let only those 5 cars through and then restart on the same lap. But even if they did that, it’s still the FIA’s fault for doing that. We probably won’t ever know for sure, because the only radio from RB to the FIA we’ve heard is Horner asking why they weren’t letting then through. This is obviously a leading question, but Masi sounded very flustered and stressed in his answer, and he has to be able to stand up to the teams. RB may have requested they let only those 5 through and then restart on the same lap (in the same way Merc begged not for a safety car earlier on), but the FIA still make the decisions, so they would be, to quote themselves, predominantly at fault

          1. Assuming this ends up in a real court, Masi would very likely be deposed and called as a witness. There may even be recordings of who said what; all the dirty laundry would be exposed.

      2. “Red Bull haven’t really done nothing wrong here”

        Apart from getting on the blower to apply huge pressure to the race director whose already under a lot of stress in the final moments of a championship. After complaining earlier in the season (silverstone) that teams shouldn’t be able to do this.

        1. You have seen the moments Toto falls apart i guess in his tirade against masi and the obvious rebuke he receives?

      3. I agree. It would be hugely unfair on Max to lose the title because of FIA incompetence, as it has been for Lewis. The sports integrity is on the line while under the biggest global spotlight its ever seen. The new target market it attracted through the hype of this season is already asking difficult questions about what they saw on Sunday afternoon.
        For me, this needs an independent body such as CAS to rule on how the FIA are managing the sporting regulations, and if a fair process was in place to ensure officials didn’t purposely influence the outcome of the race. As i said elsewhere, maybe they can take a leaf out of Max Moseley’s book and resolve it with a fine; ‘$5 million for the offence and $95 million for Masi being a t#@t”.

  6. Christian Judge
    13th December 2021, 9:23

    People go to courts to get recourse for the injustices done unto them, Merc are not appealing for the rules to change. The problem is Masi who assumed both roles, rule maker and enforcer, what remedy does merc have against someone who deliberately breaches the rule whether with good intention or not. Remember the laws are there to guard such behaviour, whatever his motive was is irrelevant was the rules followed. There was no extraordinary instance that warranted change of rules and for that matter whatever Masi did cannot be accepted in a court of law.

  7. Such a shame that this incredible season will always be tarnished by what race direction did in the last few races. The problem with Masi is that he doesn’t have a strong by-the-book ruling and is not consistent with his decisions. These should be black or white, but it’s always gray with him, and many times it feels that the final ruling is done after talking to Christian or Toto.

  8. This whole sorry affair has happened because of the over regulation of f1 and the inability to apply procedure for said regulations. With reflection I’m actually glad this has happened because it’s been building for a while and now that it has decided a championship it will have to be addressed.

    For me the things to sort out more than anything is run off. When there’s gravel the stewards are quick to make a penalty to a car forcing another onto the gravel(Norris and Perez) when there’s run off they start interpreting things differently.
    No 2 is safety cars and restarts. Get rid or changing tyres in stoppage periods, that’s what pitstops are for also get rid of standing starts, whoever is leading shouldn’t lose they’re lead for the show, they earnt it before. No 3 is lapped cars. The safety car is there to bunch up the field so marshals can work safely, the lapped cars have been lapped, they don’t deserve special treatment, if they’re lapped, tough luck. It worked fine until they started all this unlapping nonsense

    1. Well said! And though bunching up the field is the way IndyCar has done things, F1 could adopt the VSC “neutralizing” model to – roughly – maintain gaps even if a safety car has to be deployed. Makes things less fake and rewards drivers that built a gap earlier in a race. There might well be a period DURING the safety car when the field might bunch up to allow marshals access to retrieve a damaged vehicle or to sweep debris but as the field prepares to restart the race, drivers would go back to the gaps they had before the incident.

  9. Well, I guess if you open up the can of worms.. then it should be fair to get all races reviewed again this year. Whereas Mercedes might prove a legal point in the last race, I can think of a dozen that RedBull can then fight. So the question is, whats the use. Overall RB was on the back foot more often and Mercedes was favoured incredibly. So, bring it on I guess. In fact I think it will be good, since it might lead to a detailed analysis of FIA. An organisation that is absolutely incapable of managing this sport. I think that at least unites this years teams and audience and there will be no disagreement there. It needs to be fixed or they need to step aside as governing body for this sport. They were totally unacceptable this year. An utter disgrace

  10. Mercedes will feel cheated but I don’t think they actually want to go to court. Its a PR-nightmare for all involved. Horner saying that Red Bull will counter if forced to.. I think its just a political statement to deter Mercedes from actually pulling the trigger.

    I think we’ll have a “Ferrari style” settlement this winter, and Massi getting reassigned to another job.

    1. Why is it a PR nightmare?

      1. Because thanks to Toto, nobody whatsoever anywhere is talking about the 8th Constructor’s Championship in a row…..Mercedes could have really bigged that up – big PR party – lots of highly visible celebrations with the boss of Mercedes drenched in Champagne. They could then claim they make the best cars in the world….now they just look like bad tempered losers. Not a great look and rendering it almost impossible for them to make anything of the constructors without looking desperate. A simple ‘well done’ could have earned Mercedes billions.

        1. Toto is the team principal of a team in which he owns 33%. A team that was hard done by a race director not following the rules he was put in place to uphold. Rules in a sport where millions are invested, he most definitely invested millions of his own money. He is one of the best persons to determine whether its worth it or not to take legal action.

          There will be irreparable harm to f1 for allowing this to take place, not Mercedes. the WDC is the most important championship as Horner would tell you. he undeniably sacrificed the constructors for the wdc and cried when he won it by a sham, in elation. This proves how important the WDC is.

          Whether Mercedes would have protested or not, how the championship ended would have always outshone the WCC, F1 has spent the majority of effort ignoring the controversy and promoting their new champion. But what are we all discussing here?

          The blatant irregularity. Any reasonable person will consider what Mercedes is doing is understandable. More worryingly if Mercedes did nothing, F1 would sweep this under the rug.

          1. Although i agree with what your saying, doing nothing and leaving it how it is shows the sport as any thing but a SPORT and if its a show, i would rather watch a different real racing series altogether, and consider my time watching the show under the guise of a sport misleader and miss sold and would request my subscription back for f1 tv which says its a sport but obviously isnt as the rules are not fixed and can be changed at any moment even during a live race, and also to the benifit of just one driver and not the whole grid…… that is no sport.

        2. This is an incredible good point. I’ve wondered before how the board of Mercedes Benz would look at Toto this year. But that was before yesterdays episode. I thought it all didn’t look well enough to let him maintain his position. But given yesterday he sealed the deal I would reckon. I know its a shared ownership etc etc.. but still I feel this major global company would have some leverage. Wouldn’t be surprised to not see him return in his current role.

          1. its obvious without Niki he totally collapses under pressure.

  11. Note from a legal perspective, as people erroneously talk about national courts or the CAS.

    A court of arbitration can only have jurisdiction if both parties have agreed or agree to bring the matter before such court. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) currently does not have any jurisdiction over this matter, considering that Article 15.1.5 of the FIA International Sporting Code provides, with regards to “FIA Championship cup, trophy, challenge or series“, for the jurisdiction of the FIA’s International Court of Appeal (ICA). It is very unlikely that the FIA and Mercedes (and potentially Red Bull) will agree to bypass such clause.

    There is also a general principle in international arbitration according to which, if an arbitration clause exists, a national court cannot claim jurisdiction on a matter before the arbitration court has ruled on its own jurisdiction (with some rare exceptions depending on countries). In other words, a national court will deny taking the case unless the ICA considers itself not having jurisdiction. This situation is again unlikely to happen as the Sporting Code is crystal clear on this issue.

    Finally, note that the FIA International Court of Appeal is seated in Paris. This means that any recourse against the award, or any issue in connection with the arbitration proceedings of the ICA must be brought before the French (Paris) Courts.

    A recourse against the award which will be rendered by the ICA is unlikely to be challenged. Under French law (which again, is applicable in case of a recourse against such award as a result of the ICA being seated in Paris), national courts cannot act as another “trial court”, and can only set aside the arbitration award under very limited specific circumstances.

    To sum it up : the CAS or any national court (nor the EU which has no power to act on this matter) have no jurisdiction over Mercedes’ contemplated appeal. Only the FIA’s International Court of Appeal can rule on this.

    1. Thanks @arhn, that’s useful. I had my doubts about CAS’s jurisdiction in this matter, but this clears it up.

      (As an aside, I don’t think CAS does what a lot of people think it does – it rarely if ever gets involved with “on-field” decision making by sporting officials).

    2. Yep, FIA ICA is the next step. After that Mercedes don’t have any chance to get the result overturned. Just sue for damages in some other courts I guess.

  12. For the sake of F1 there needs to be some sort of external judgement, FIA were not going to accept the protests and overturn the result because that puts them in a bad light (admitting their race director caused a shambles), so it has to go to an external court.. Masi is not going to be disciplined until external judgement takes place so it needs to happen..

    Simple fact here is that MM had the option of 48.12 where he could unlap cars (but that has the restriction of the SC having to come in a lap later, which is for safety reasons to allow unlapped cars the time to rejoin the pack) or 48.13 where he merely decides that the SC comes in at the end of the lap… he cannot use both.. to me 48.12 benefits LH and 48.13 benefits MV.. TBF MM should have red flagged, and have 3 or 4 laps where everyone was in position and it was safe to race..

    l am a LH fan and am extremely disappointed that he lost the championship in this way… however l do not feel that Max should lose his title… he was only doing what he was allowed to do.. both racers did nothing wrong IMHO.. The decisions that Masi took also had negative impacts on other drivers/teams fighting for championship points, DR didn’t get the opportunity to take Vettle, the 5 unlapped cars were spread out by the time the race restarted and were only 20 to 30 seconds up the road etc..

    I also do not think that it was a great strategy from Red Bull, a 5 year old could call that strategy, the only risk was threading a wheel nut, but they had nothing to lose.. he ho..

    Just my opinions, on something that should have been the showpiece event for F1, and ultimately left a bad taste in the mouth..

  13. Mercedes tweeted “There are no words” at the end of the race. There are words, they are: “Congratulations Max and Red Bull”. Hamilton asked his team to withdraw their protest but they didn’t. Whether you think this end was a debacle or a miracle, Wolf and the Mercedes team are calling the sport into disrepute. They show they care more about money than the sport or the fans. The stupid corporate ego tantrum has to stop and they should accept a very unlucky defeat with the same grace as the brilliant worthy champion that is Lewis Hamilton. Even if they win in the courts I suspect Hamilton will decline the championship or maybe even retire. Then Toto will be left with Russell and an empty seat…..maybe they could stick Mazepin in it, I doubt Haas will stand in his way so long as their pockets are lined.

    1. @machinesteve Mercedes didn’t put the sport into disrepute and what happened yesterday was probably the biggest blunder in any sport. All the drivers (Max included had he not benefited) are clearly against the decision.

      The way it transpired was almost like a Homeland episode with Carrie Mathison (Horner) telling her agent (Masi) to change his decision and give him 1 lap to win (Horner’s literal words).

      Mercedes owes it to all the fans (including Red Bull’s fans) to reverse the decision. Otherwise, the teams need to get together and form a new series under different governance. This result cannot stand – Spygate and Crashgate are nothing compared to this as this one involves the sporting direction singling out a team.

      What if they decide to go against Ferrari next year or McLaren? Who’ll stop them? This is akin to a dictatorship within the sport.

      The drivers and ex-drivers also need to stand firm and demand that this be fixed as it could affect any of them in the future. Sure, Alonso you won the WDC but guess what, we cooked the results of the last 3 races and gave the championship to Max as you’re older and less marketable.

    2. @machinesteve, that’s interesting about Hamilton asking Mercedes to withdraw the protest. I haven’t seen that elsewhere – do you know where that story came from?

      1. I’ve seen it on several sites, but it’s always “reportedly”, not a quote, not sure if true, if it is, impressed.

  14. Here’s Masi explaining the requirement one year ago.

    ”There’s a requirement in the sporting regulations to wave all the lapped cars past,” Masi said.

    “From that point, it was position six onwards that were still running [on the lead lap], so between 10 or 11 cars had to unlap themselves.

    “Therefore the Safety Car period was a bit longer than what we would have normally expected.”

    1. @macademianut this is absurd – clearly, yesterday was a violation of the sporting regulations according to Masi. I’m not sure he even needs to show up in court and testify as this is damning. Along with the conversation that transpired between him and Horner, if he were a public official, Masi’d probably be doing time in prison. He willingly broke the sporting regulations at Horner’s behest.

      The bigger question is why did Masi do that? Why does he need to comply with Horner’s request and break the regulations? This is motor racing isn’t the answer…

  15. I think Mercedes know that realistically, they won’t change the result.

    What I think they are really aiming for is to get Masi -who, let’s be honest has been pretty abysmal since he took the role, even before this year, and this year he’s been especially dreadful- out of the job and replaced with someone more competant.

    Frankly, I can’t see anyone being worse than him.

  16. I’ll throw my 2 cents in. I think Mercedes SHOULD appeal. To get this selective reading of the rules straigtened out. When the stewards/race director say what the “intent” of the rules are, that needs to come to a clear stop. The rules are what is written in the rules, not the “intent”. If the intent of a rule needs to be clarified, the rules need to be re-written.
    All that said, even if Mercedes wins on appeal, I don’t see any remedy for them. I would not agree with after-the-fact saying the results should be the order of finish the prior lap. I don’t think there is anything in the rules to say what should be done if those particular two parts of the rules are breached. I’m a Hamilton/Mercedes fan, but I believe the results must stand.

  17. Stefano needs to get on the phone to Toto and offer Masi’s head to make this all go away with promise of regs reform. It’s the only way this ends amicably.

    1. @alec-glen Bit unfair on Masi, who surely did what he was expected to – ensure that the championship ended with a last-lap shootout and not a foregone conclusion under yellow flags or with loads of lapped cars in the way.

      I think Mercedes would have been smarter to calmly call for regs reform themselves, pointing to the ambiguity that led to this situation, rather than throwing all of their toys out of the pram with a futile protest, but we are where we are now.

      1. @red-andy Na, he could’ve guaranteed a green finish if he red flagged a la Baku. The fact that he didn’t, genuine mistake or otherwise, and instead steamrolled the regs to fit an agenda has brought the sport into disrepute. Exactly the opposite of what he’s there for.

        My guess is there’s been a lot of chatter behind the scenes these past few days and we’ll not see an appeal but probably should see the end of Masi, or Toto even, we’ll see.

  18. This is a dispute between Mercedes and the FIA. Why are Red Bull involved? For that matter, why were Red Bull representing Michael Masi for the first part of the stewards’ hearing? Indeed he was not even present before the adjournment. Do they consider him part of the Red Bull team?

    1. Red Bull were an “interested party” as Mercedes’ proposed remedy (amending the race classification as per Article 11.9.3h of the ISC) would have affected them by depriving them of the race win. Therefore they were allowed to make their own representations to the stewards, not on Masi’s behalf but for themselves.

  19. Please cry a little more, silverfarts.
    MAX is exactly more talented driver and won against all odds.

  20. Mercedes have the right to go appeal to get justice from fia and courts to decide the truth

  21. I am not sure Horner appreciates the legal position he and RBR are in. Red Bull would be an “interested party” with no appeal rights at all. Ironically for Red Bull to have had a right of appeal they would have needed to contest their own win in the pre-action stages (like Merc did with the stewards)- that window of opportunity has now passed. Perhaps they should have contested turn1 further and seek a penalty for Lewis just to cover themselves so they could have some legal leverage. But as it stands, in the courts Red Bull would be a sitting duck and their only ally would be the FIA and whether they choose to appeal any adverse judgement.

  22. Consolation prize, Sir Lewis Hamilton !!!

  23. Rules are rules. Lewis should be handed the trophy. Race director interfered in the rules. Safety car broke protocol came in early. Max moved to many times on track. And his car was ahead on restart. How many rules can one break. Red bull cheated and race director cheated

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