Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2021

Hamilton didn’t want to win his first title in court – does he feel the same about an eighth?

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After their second protest over the race director’s controversial handling of the final-lap restart in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was rejected by the stewards on Sunday Mercedes gave a formal indication they intended to appeal against the decision.

From that point – around 11:30pm at the Yas Marina circuit – they had 96 hours to submit that appeal.

After throwing Mercedes’ two protests out, two further documents were issued by the stewards in Abu Dhabi: The final race classification and championship standings. Both included the footnote: “Subject to an appeal lodged with the ICA [International Court of Appeal]”. No appeal has yet been lodged. The clock is still ticking.

So for the last three days the Formula 1 world has been in a state of limbo, wondering whether the race which decided the world championship in Max Verstappen’s favour is going to be the subject of an appeal.

An appeal could have handed Hamilton 2007 title
If Mercedes was to go ahead with an appeal over the outcome of a race which decided the world championship, it would not be unprecedented. Coincidentally, the most recent case also involved Lewis Hamilton missing out on the title.

After Kimi Raikkonen beat him to the 2007 championship by a single point at Interlagos, a row broke out involving three cars which finished between the pair. The cars of Nico Rosberg, Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld – which took fourth, fifth and sixth places respectively – were found by FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer to have broken a rule stating fuel must not be cooled more than 10C below the ambient temperature (as was Kazuki Nakajima’s Williams, which finished 10th).

After considering an alternative source of evidence, which indicated the ambient temperature was lower than Bauer observed on the FOM timing monitor, the stewards ruled the cars complied with the regulations. McLaren, who’d had several punishing run-ins with the authorities during the season, copping a $100 million fine over the ‘Spygate’ row, pursued an appeal.

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However McLaren stumbled on a technicality. They failed to submit a protest within the required 30 minutes of the results being published. Their appeal was therefore thrown out as being inadmissible, and Raikkonen was confirmed as champion.

Raikkonen collected his trophy at FIA Gala
The ruling was handed down on November 15th, in good time ahead of the FIA’s prizegiving ceremony which was held in Monaco on December 7th. But at the end of the mammoth, 22-race 2021 F1 season, timings are much tighter. The FIA prizegiving is due to take place tomorrow in Paris. Mercedes’ appeal deadline expires at 8:30pm local time.

“The 2021 FIA prizegiving – my last as FIA president – will be staged in Paris in celebration of the champions of our sport,” said Jean Todt, who is relinquishing his position in charge of the sport’s governing body, and will not want his final such ceremony overshadowed by this acrimony. But the possibility of a Mercedes appeal threatens exactly that. That point was surely made clear to the FIA when Mercedes refused to participate in a photoshoot ahead of the event with both its title-winning Formula 1 and Formula E teams.

Mercedes may intend to bring an appeal or may be using the timing of the event to apply pressure to the FIA to reach some kind of deal under which it drops its objections. But with the world championship hanging in the balance, it’s not obvious what kind of sweetener the FIA could offer. Either way, we should know within little more than 24 hours.

Could the deciding factor be Hamilton himself? In 2007 he said he didn’t want to win the championship in a court room. He adopted a similar position five years ago in another dispute involving Verstappen. Mercedes submitted a protest over the Red Bull driver’s defensive moves after the Japanese Grand Prix, but pulled it after Hamilton made it clear he did not support the plan.

Hamilton said no to Verstappen protest in 2016
“There is no protest from myself,” Hamilton stated on social media. “[I] just heard the team had but I told them it is not what we do.” (A successful protest wouldn’t have swung that year’s title Hamilton’s way: A penalty for Verstappen would have meant Hamilton ended the championship two points behind Nico Rosberg instead of five.)

Following Sunday’s disappointment Hamilton returned home and earlier today collected his knighthood in a long-awaited ceremony at Windsor Castle. An appeal would inevitably attract cries of ‘bad loser’ and be regarded by some as unworthy of his recent award for ‘services to motorsport’. With seven titles already in his pocket, could his first act as a knight of the realm be to call off an appeal?

The FIA will certainly be hoping so. But there will be others who would consider it a service to motorsport for him to challenge an officiating call which they feel prioritised the show above fair competition.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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130 comments on “Hamilton didn’t want to win his first title in court – does he feel the same about an eighth?”

  1. Well, Mercedes is going to appeal seconds before start of the gala, just to ruin everybody’s day and to be sure MV doesn’t get his trophy.

    Mark my words.

    1. @hannesch Given that the only way Mercedes will get any changes made is by piling the pressure on the FIA, this is a sensible move. The FIA needs to be put under the spotlight, to be forced to improve. If the race director is allowed to make up rules on a whim, F1 will become a manufactured TV reality show with less sporting legitimacy than WWE.

      I believe Mercedes are currently trying to embarrass the FIA into admitting they’ve screwed the pooch on this one, to make that admission less embarrassing than keeping up the front. It may work, it may not, but it’s a legitimate strategy in the circumstances.

      Note: Personally, I don’t like it, but I like it more than the FIA sweeping this under the rug and continuing in the belief that Masi’s actions were completely legitimate and fair.

    2. everybody’s day

      Why do you assume it would be everybody? Surely there will be some who’ll enjoy the drama. The show. I’d imagine all those that enjoyed the last lap show would appreciate that as well – pure entertainment.

      1. But not sport by the rules.

      2. Assuming Mercedes protest the result, I’m left thinking that Netflix really will be the big winners here. Either way they get to amp up the drama.

    3. I don’t get it, the drivers that didn’t get to unlap have a reason to protest, the rest do not. Mercedes are protesting the right call as it did not suit them? Just like the protest in 2007, manufactured.

      1. Not manufactured Masi totally ignored the rules and he does not within the rules have the right to do that. The Guardian asked a top arbitration lawyer and he stated the Masi had not applied the rules and the the clause the FIA used to justify Masi’s actions did not apply.

      2. Nice try. Except that allowing only some of the drivers to unlap themselves under a safety car hasn’t happened before and because of that 48.12 wasn’t adhered to.

    4. @hannesch And then you will wake up with thumb in your bum…

  2. I thought they had 72 hours instead of 96? That would make the deadline tonight instead of just before the gala.

    1. Indeed. Some articles say 72 hours, some say 96 hours. So what is it.

        1. Any official source?

          1. Well it’s article 10.3.1.a of the FIA Judicial and Disciplinary Rules and it says 96 hours.

            But even formula1.com says 72 hours. So maybe from an old rulebook

  3. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
    15th December 2021, 15:23

    If Hamilton wins his 8th in court he should immediately retire rather having to endure another season barracked by Dutch fans, I do believe it could turn very ugly.

    If Mercedes goes to court to nullify the last race the title remains with Verstappen, but Masi is exposed as an absolute scoundrel. I think that’s the best option. It would give the teams huge leverage over the FIA to reform stewarding properly.

    If the FIA is sensible it will head off legal action by undertaking these reforms voluntarily, in consultation with the sport’s stakeholders.

    1. If Mercedes appeal, and court decide to nullify the race in Abu Dhabi, then I think Ferrari should appeal on same court Singapore 2008 race, and ask to nullify result of that race and give back title to Massa.
      I Mercedes decides to go threw that road, they would open Pandora’s Box imho.

      1. You do realise there’s a finite amount of time for a protest to be lodged. 2008 was was 13 years ago mate, calm down.

        1. Mercedes can protest the amount of time dilation induced by earths gravity.

          1. Or Mercedes could skip all the legal mumbo jumbo and just threaten to leave F1.

      2. 2008 + 96 hours, maybe… ;-)

      3. @sylversurferr I think it’s been more than 96 hours since the Singapore 2008 race.

        1. Ferrari didn’t know for crashgate fix in 96 hours, evidence comes later, so I don’t see how 96h rule would matter in this case. Anyway, like I said if somehow court (which I highly doubt) decide to nullify Abu Dhabi GP result for sure they would open Pandora’s Box and give other team’s chance to appeal for something in that past that came with new evidence.

          1. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
            15th December 2021, 17:24

            @sylversurfer, you don’t nullify an entire race because one team cheated, that would be idiotic. You nullify the race because it wasn’t administered correctly within the rules, i.e. it was illegitimate.

          2. @sylversurferr So if you’re for not appealing something that happened in the past when new evidence comes to light, should they give Lance Armstrong his TDF wins back, or maybe lift the ban on the RusAF?

          3. @shakey66 It would be bad image for the sport,and it would be even more bad image for Mercedes Benz brand image, and could you imagine booing for Lewis on next races if Mercedes decides to go that way?

      4. Tommy Scragend
        15th December 2021, 17:04

        If Mercedes appeal, and court decide to nullify the race in Abu Dhabi

        If the above happens it will make no difference to the outcome of the championship. Verstappen was ahead before Abu Dhabi by virtue of more wins.

      5. They only disqualify Alonso as the winner ha ha ha ha ha and Move Lewis to second place instead of third

    2. I believe the currency of trade here may be Masi’s job.
      Wolff: “Mike, what was that?”.
      Masi: (stressed and fed up) – “We went car racing”.
      Wolff (not expecting a hard answer like that) – “What?”
      Masi: (realizing who he’s talking to) – “This is motorsports”

      Someone has to go. Only an Ecclestone type of deal to save this one, but it would be worse for everyone.

      At this time Michael Masi is in the best position to claim that seat (race director). If he learns from it, that is. The drivers being wrong penalized is not his fault, he’s not the one to decide those penalties. But when it comes to VSC, yellows and SC, Baku, Spa, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi were PhD classes on everything that can happen in a season. Who else would have that type of experience at F1 level to take his seat?

      1. Who else would have that type of experience at F1 level to take his seat?

        “At F1 level” is an unnecessary qualification. Eduardo Freitas does seem to fit the bill given his 30+ years motorsports experience and progression through the roles to his current as FIA WEC Race Director. He is certainly more qualified than Michael Masi was at the time he was given the F1 Race Director title.

        1. Let’s go with him he cannot possibly do a worse job than Masi, he has been making cock ups for 2 seasons.

      2. It was nice to see how Toto got rebuked by Misa.
        Embarrassing to see a grown man shout like a petulant child against the Race Director.
        Sounded like a lack of respect and as such penalised by Fia.
        Another stain on the mercedes team.

        1. erike, maybe they should reprimand him as they did Christian Horner?

        2. And Horner has never behaved like a petulant child, all of his communications with Masi have been professional and completely above board…

          If Masi had made up a brand new rule which disadvantaged Max in the penultimate lap of the title deciding final race, Horner (or any TP) would have been no better.

        3. Perhaps you muted your TV when Horner was complaining about lapped cars not being released?

      3. Masi always seems impatient when Wolff but is always patient written Horner.

      4. He’s a fact for you. That exchange between Toto and Masi went the other way. Order was “this is motorsport”. Then at the end he said “we went car racing” and hung up on him basically, which I quite enjoyed. Toto has really become a cancer to F1

  4. The decision is likely out of Hamilton’s hands and may be coming from the boardroom. As a publicly traded company, who knows from how high up the decisions in matters like this will come from, especially if the accounting department can put a value (I’d imagine a rather high value) on having a WDC in the team.

    1. The accounting department will much more be calculating the value loss by being a sore loser.

      The vast majority of F1 fans do not care about the minute specifics of the rules. Even a lot of the hardcore fans don’t care, if these specifics don’t favor their favorite driver.

      There is nothing to gain for Mercedes. The race result will not be altered, at the most Mercedes can hope for an annulment of the race.

      1. The point is, there are people here who think this is Lewis being a poor sport, when the decision to appeal may not be coming from Lewis and likely isn’t coming from Lewis. How F1 fans feel about things may also not be a part of the equation. This could be about dollars and cents and it could be coming from the senior executive level of Mercedes and not those in the F1 team. My guess is right now they’re weighing their options and considering how events will affect their bottom line and they’ll decide based on that. We’re now in the business section of F1 being a sport and a business.

    2. I have thought about this from an iron clad legal perspective, and it’s not 100% sure that had the SC stayed out that Hamilton would have won the race. He may have broken down going at slow speed, he may have driven into the SC accidentally, anything might have happened @velocityboy. Likewise you can’t disregard the last lap because the race distance has not been run. So best hope is as above, race is anulled and Verstappen wins regardless and hopefully Masi gets shown the door.

      1. @john-h This is something I’ve considered as well. Where Merc have to prove something beyond reasonable doubt, which I would assume would be the precedent, I think it will be difficult to say that he would definitely have won the race even if the SC stayed out for 1 more lap. I would guess it’s similar to why you can’t retrospectively ‘remove’ a goal that may have been unfairly awarded in a football match; there are too many variables in play to say the outcome would definitely have been this one. The extreme in a football scenario would then be to order a rematch, but the FIA’s rules make it very clear that even the International Court of Appeal cannot order a re-run.

        1. Lewis did complete 58 laps. Pretty sure that you can prove his car would run the distance.

      2. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
        15th December 2021, 17:26

        It could even be that Verstappen’s car may of broken down as happened to Perez should they not have slowed down for the safety car.

        Anything can happen F1 and usually does – Murray Walker

        1. @andyfromsandy Exactly. Any one of quite literally millions of possibilities could have occurred on the final lap, which is why claiming that Hamilton winning the race being a given may not stand up to legal standards. The only outcome where you can know for sure what happened is the actual outcome

          On that final note, I wonder how Murray would have felt about this, or handled it live had he been commentating.

          1. Agreed from legal perspective I think it is either accept the actual result or annul the results. Which is why I think Mercedes doesn’t have much to gain from actually lodging the appeal

            Even if they win I am sure that RB will appeal the changed result

          2. It’s not about what might have happened it’s the rules we’re not applied fairly for all drivers.

          3. The race can end on lap 57 before the controversial calls were made by the RD.

  5. There’s speculation that there could be some kind of internal cat fight going on within MGP. Could we see Toto and Lewis part from the team? Could be a very fun next couple of weeks.

    1. Toto will have another job next year..
      He has 30% shares so probably a desk in the cellar.

  6. I do believe no driver on the grid would want to win any title in the court. The cat is out of the bag though and this isn’t about the 2021 WDC anymore. Nobody won really. Now we need and deserve to have a clear cut decision, so we can enjoy this sport in the future. I’m sure FIA and all teams involved could be pretty creative when it comes down to satisfaction of all parties.

    1. He was the rightfull winner, he won fair and square, its only tainted because max has it when teh world knows he shouldnt… Be bad marketing for years…… if it needs to go to court then he is saving f1 too, because if its left like this, the sport shows the world it has no integrity and will lose investors and potential new teams and engines, not to mention gives Merc the perfect excuse to walk away.

      1. @Mosin,

        “not to mention gives Merc the perfect excuse to walk away.”

        Good let them walk away. Fed up with them, hypocrites.

        There is only one rightful winner at the end and in this case it is Verstappen. A championship isnt decided in a race but over the course of a season. Was Verstappen lucky this race? YES. Is he a deserving champion despite the luck in the last race? YES.

        1. There’s luck and then theres winning the race based on the race director changing the rules mid race. If you want to talk about hypocrites I have a quote for you, “That’s what happens when you don’t leave a space”.

        2. The only team who seem to threaten to walk away if they don’t get their way is Red Bull.
          If the situation was reversed I have no doubt Red Bull would go all the way with a protest so please enough of the hypocrite hyperbole.
          How do you figure this championship wasn’t decided by the result of last race in this case…..more new rules decided on the fly.
          Max does deserve to be champion…but not this way.

          1. I’m fed up with Redbull and their nasty attitude.

          2. No Max was not at fault however he should not have been gifted the championship by the clowns at the FIA, is a hollow victory. Max in his interviews looks embarrassed.

          3. Indeed, Marko already threatened that Red Bull would leave F1 if Verstappen loses the WDC.

        3. You do realise that if Mercedes walk away, they could take away the engines too… leaving 6 teams on the grid and 12 cars. I can’t remember the exact numbers (maybe 18 cars?) but I’m sure that’s less that the contractual minimum to run as signed in the commercial agreements between the FIA and circuits. It’s a powerful threat they could use.

  7. Until this moment I believed that in 2007, it was actually McLaren who decided not to protest the results (with respect to their bad reputation after Spygate), so it surprising to read they did & it was neglected because of their own mistake.

    May I ask what was the alternative source of evidence for the modified stewards decision back then?

    1. I agree. I was under the impression Mclaren declined for all this time. Maybe this was always an urban legend. It’s a fascinating second bookend to Hamilton’s titles though.

    2. May I ask what was the alternative source of evidence for the modified stewards decision back then?

      Meteo France weather data.

  8. It would be kind of sweet to take this one back legally as it was awarded in the same manner. Neither based on merit.

  9. I remember reading somewhere some reports that Hamilton didn’t want to win this way (perhaps this was speculation, I can’t recall the source). I’d be very surprised if he does, and as a well known Hamilton supporter I definitely don’t want him to win an 8th championship this way, absolutely not! Max should definitely have this title, but personally I would like to see Masi admit a mistake and be removed. He is not fit for the role, and has made F1 an embarrassment. Already not referring Brazil was bad, but he needs to go. Have thought this way since the Mugello 2020 shambles but now is definitely the time.

    1. @john-h I’m with you on this, I don’t want to see Hamilton win an 8th title in this way. I hope Mercedes are currently in negotiation with the FIA into the nature of statements and actions that will be made by the FIA on the back of this. My preference would be:

      1. A statement from Michael Masi, admitting fault with the way he handled the final laps and that, were he to have followed the rules, Lewis Hamilton would have won the title.
      2. A statement from the FIA to similar effect, with the announcement that Masi will no longer be in the position of Race Director moving forward.
      3. Changes to rules regarding contact between teams and race control during the race. 1 way communication for example.
      4. A Statement from Mercedes acknowledging the above, and stating their intention to help win Hamiltons unprecedented 8th title on the track.

      1. @j4k3 there is no way you’ll get number 1, because it is factually incorrect. You never know what would have happened on the final lap. To categorically state that Hamilton would have been world champion is an epistemological falsehood.

        1. @haostolze yes, i thought that when I re-read my comment before posting, but couldn’t be bothered to ammend!! More of an acknowledgement that his actions affected the outcome/were of significant impact on the race etc etc.

        2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          15th December 2021, 16:38

          @hahostolze yeah, but you can clearly point out that Car 33 had an unfair advantage on the last lap that was a lasting advantage as it gave him a victory and a championship.

          Can any car with an unfair advantage that receives a classification be allowed to keep that classification?

          If you raced and the race director instead of placing you as the last car (okay, you maybe faster than that but it’s the car that’s slowing you down) accidentally promoted you to the front and you won the race, would you keep that classification?

          In a Kafkian world, sure! ;-)

          1. but you can clearly point out that Car 33 had an unfair advantage on the last lap

            indeed, that must have been the better driver then..

            If you mean the tires that is strategy and something Mercedes choose to do.
            Logical, but nevertheless a choice.

  10. For anyone who doubts what a class act Hamilton is, here’s further proof

  11. Lewis was clearly robbed his championship and no one can say he doesn’t deserve the championship. It’s sad Dutch fans who think fans won championship wrongly and everyone will remembered how terrible he won his championship for years to come through masi than winning freer and fair. If lewis Hamilton retires in the near future max won’t be recognized by all in formula 1 as a champion 2021

    1. yes he wil

    2. Max won the Masi’s world championship title, but a real title went down the drain due to what happened. From the sports point of view Lewis had it until the last lap, and he clearly deserved it. But after the last lap there is no sports point of view anymore. I will never respect Masi’s title handed to Max, cause it was not won according to the rules, but only by cheating.

    3. A championship is the result of a season, not just the final race. So yes, he will be remembered and recognized by many in the world as a worthy champion.

      So many things happened this season @Felix, it is said you just mention the final race. If and Buts go back more than one race. Great for pub talk but that is it.

      1. a season is 22 races but Masi’s (in) decisions basically made what was a race unfortunately ending behind the Satety Car, as there would be no time to comply with the rules, to Red Bull having the shot at the win they were not competent enough to have by their own effort.

        It made everything feel so cheap. It definitely wasn’t just luck.

      2. …and by some, as a champion on paper only. I’m sure I’m not the only person who won’t accept Max as the rightful 2021 champion regardless of how this plays out.

    4. 3 years later no one will remember about what happenned here. Verstappen will be a world champion as was Michael Schumacher in 1994 or Prost in 1989 or Senna in 1990.

      1. and to this day people talk about these championships lol

      2. Everyone remembers all those events.

  12. I still struggle to understand how an appeal could make change to the WDC classification. There is no possible scenario where the last lap is invalidated, as there is, to my knowledge, no rule that would allow it under green flag. There is no possibility to give any kind of penalties to Max as he did not break any rules. It is also not possible to retroactively change anything that happened in the race – move order around or something like that. So we’re left with invalidating the result of the whole GP, in which case Max still wins WDC.

    It’s yet another speculative article on RaceFans which does not answer this question and somehow lives in a reality where the appeal could change the WDC outcome somehow. WDC does not “hang in balance”. It’s done and dusted. Am I missing something?

    1. José Lopes da Silva
      15th December 2021, 16:21

      Eventually you’re missing that it’s time to rally the British fans, for a few days at least. Let it go. This is harder than Adelaide 94. They have to grief.

      1. Its not only british fans. Its also Hamilton-fans and objective fans with common sense from other parts of the world. Many fans probably just want a fair result of a sports competition, not a cheated title.

        1. objective fans with common sense

          Damn.. have to clean my screen now. Just tok a sip of coffee when i read this.
          Okay you got me there..
          Just look at youtube and see the many items of fans really gong out of their mind from joy seeing Max win in that last lap.
          A real battle between the two greatest by far. Do not damage lewis by showing his fans like this.

          1. Nice try. On this side of the pond US media is certainly not convinced that Max is the rightful champion.

        2. José Lopes da Silva
          16th December 2021, 12:14

          It’s a delusion. No one believes today that Michael Schumacher did not merit the 1994 championship. Verstappen had a inferior car for a large chunk of the season, made the most of every opportunity and was equally penalised by stewarding decisions.

    2. Hi Kub, I posted this deep dive into the regs under another article on this site earlier today.

      TL;DR I think that legally it is possible for the appeals court to change the classification so it’s declared after 57 laps rather than 58, which would give the WDC to Lewis. They definitely have the power to amend the classification, and as no restrictions are placed on the way they can amend the classification I think they could change it in the way Mercedes requested.


      F1 Sporting Regs 55.3: The official classification will be published after the race. It will be the only valid result subject to any amendments which may be made under the Code and these Sporting Regulations.

      I think we know the classification can be protested to the stewards as that’s what happened so I needn’t quote those rules here. So what powers do the stewards have?

      International Sporting Code 11.9 Authority of the Stewards – 11.9.3: Within the framework of their duties, they notably: (11.9.3.h) may amend the classifications

      Similarly, we know stewards’ decisions can be appealed. ISC 15.1.5 and 15.2 state that appeals for FIA Championships go to the International Court of Appeal and the procedure is outlined in the FIA Judicial and Disciplinary Rules (to find these, click on ‘International Court of Appeal’ under the FIA drop-down menu on their website. Not sure if I can post links here).

      J&D Rules 10.10.1: The ICA has all the decision-making powers of the authority that took the contested decision.
      J&D Rules 10.10.2: It [the ICA] may annul or amend the results of a competition, but it is not empowered to order any competition to be re-run.

      Thus the ICA has the power to amend the classification.

      Now, I cannot find it explicitly stated that the stewards/ICA can decide to amend the classification in the particular way Mercedes have asked – declaring the result based on positions at the end of lap 57. However neither is it explicitly stated that they can’t. Furthermore, the stewards’ decision states:

      “That notwithstanding Mercedes’ request that the Stewards remediate the matter by amending the classification to reflect the positions at the end of the penultimate lap, this is a step that the Stewards believe is effectively shortening the race retrospectively, and hence not appropriate.”

      And I believe that if it were impossible for them to amend the classification in that manner, they would have said so in their decision. Instead the way it’s been phrased implies that they do have that power, but have decided not to use it.

      It’s also worth pointing out that ISC 11.9.3.h does not place any restrictions on the stewards’ power to amend the classification. So it seems a reasonable interpretation that the stewards (and therefore the ICA) have the power to amend the classification in the manner Mercedes have requested.

      Whether or not they will is another question of course! But in my opinion they could justify doing so, by pointing out that due to the race director not correctly following the sporting regulations, the final lap took place under green-flag conditions instead of behind the safety car. And as overtaking behind the safety car is forbidden, if the sporting regulations had been followed then the order at the end of lap 58 would have been the same as the order at the end of lap 57.

      Or of course they may agree with the stewards’ view that the race director has ultimate authority and can overrule the sporting regulations if he so wishes. In my opinion that’s a worrying precedent to set.

      Anyway, that’s my interpretation of the rulebook. But I’m not a lawyer and I may be wrong!

      1. I think this interpretation is sound. As you say, they have the right to amend the result, and there are no explicit limitations set on that right.

        1. @j4k3 Alan Dove pointed out to a post I published yesterday saying that the amending of the results back one lap might actually mean that the race never officially finished (the official finish signal is the chequered flag, and that was shown on lap 58), and that as a result they couldn’t award points (the regs make it very clear that the 75% of full distance rule only applies for red flags). I’m not a lawyer, and like the original analysis I may be wrong, but this appears to be a possibility.

          I expect it all comes down to how the courts interpret that right to amend results, and whether that spreads to also amending the (quite strict) rules on how and when a race finishes.

          Also @imhotep222 I forgot to mention in my first reply that if there’s ever a post that deserves COTD it’s your one

          1. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
            15th December 2021, 17:37

            RandomMallard, nice to see you back. I think the race would have finished on lap 58 but the classification would be given on lap 57. I’m sure Hamilton has no desire to win the championship, but higher powers might be determined to see this settled in court. I noticed after the race that Horner was determined to rub Mercedes noses in it by demanding they shake hands when they were clearly unhappy with the result, I wonder whether he will come to regret that.

          2. @slightlycrusty

            by demanding they shake hands when they were clearly unhappy with the result, I wonder whether he will come to regret that.

            Sportmanship is not your thing i see.
            A pity. Terrible to see the sort of fans lewis seems to attract. Not sure is he is happy with them

          3. @slightlycrusty Nice to see you again here. I’m not intending on staying long at the moment, likely until the appeal deadline tomorrow and then taking a bit of a break from F1 over the Christmas period (unless the appeal is decided very quickly, which I doubt it will be). I think we all deserve a bit of a break!

            I think the race would have finished on lap 58 but the classification would be given on lap 57.

            I was going to say that wouldn’t really make sense, but actually it does somewhat and past precedent for red flags has done this before (notably Spa this year where they said the race had composed of 3 laps, hence half points, but took results from the end of lap 1 as per the red flag rules). The real problem is Masi has put us so deep into and unprecedented situation that it feels like almost every rule in the book is going to come under question and debate.

            (Also, you’ve got me looking forward to the F1 Esports tonight and tomorrow, so thanks for that. Can’t be any worse than this fiasco can it…)

          4. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
            15th December 2021, 19:10

            (Also, you’ve got me looking forward to the F1 Esports tonight and tomorrow, so thanks for that. Can’t be any worse than this fiasco can it…)

            RandomMallard, the stewarding is excellent! :-D

      2. @imhotep222 Great analysis. I agree with most of it.

        I think the main problem with the FIA taking the results from the end of lap 57 (and I’m indebted to another commenter here, Alan Dove, who first suggested this possibility) to is that might mean the race hasn’t officially finished. The end of the race is marked by the “end of session signal” i.e. the chequered flag, or when the race reaches it’s prescribed distance of 305km (this means the race is officially shortened if the chequered flag is flown early, but isn’t lengthened if it’s shown late). The chequered flag was shown at the end of lap 58, not lap 57.

        Now, I’m not a lawyer, but taking the results from the end of lap 57 may open the window to publishing race results for a race that hasn’t finished, in which case it is highly likely that they couldn’t (or because it’s the FIA we’re dealing with, shouldn’t) award points.

        Note: The one exception to this rule is if the red flag is shown and the race is not restarted, in which case full points are awarded if the race has reached 75% distance. However, this only applies if the race if red flagged.

        I’m not saying that this is definitely how the rules stand for this situation, because, as you point out, they are unclear on what ‘amending the classification’ actually means, but it is a possibility that shortening the race by one lap may not actually be what Mercedes want to achieve here.

        1. Alan Dove’s has kept spamming the same comment on multiple articles. He might be right but I read a counter to that earlier today on this website in the comments that actually makes more sense than what he was suggesting (though thanks to Alan posting without an account, I can’t go through the comments to find the one I want to refer to).

      3. That’s a nice summary!
        I remember this bit from the stewards decision:
        “That notwithstanding Mercedes’ request that the Stewards remediate the matter by amending the classification to reflect the positions at the end of the penultimate lap, this is a step that the Stewards believe is effectively shortening the race retrospectively, and hence not appropriate.”
        but I guess I understand it differently. If you want to achieve what Merc wants, you need to shorten the race. The way stewards constructed this sentence is they put emphasis on shortening the race as a reason why it is not possible to change the order. So they say – sure, maybe we would consider changing the order, but to achieve this you need to shorten the race, and this is just silly. :)

    3. It’s yet another speculative article on RaceFans which does not answer this question and somehow lives in a reality where the appeal could change the WDC outcome somehow. WDC does not “hang in balance”. It’s done and dusted. Am I missing something?

      Considering there is no example in the history of F1 (or any sport that I’m aware of) which comes close to this, nobody can definitively say there is no way for the appeal to change the outcome. I can’t see a possibility within the rules as I have read them, but we are in Uncharted waters here. Never before has a sporting official knowingly and admittedly ignored the rules he has been applying for years and made up something which benefited one participant over all the others.

    4. @Kub yes, in common with a lot of posters on here on both sides you’re missing any connection to reality and any other perspective than the one that suits your narrative.

      The results remain subject to an appeal, as noted in the article. Until that appeal has run its course then any journalist mentioning that the results remain subject to an appeal are entirely accurate. If you don’t like facts don’t read the articles. If you want to understand why the results can change read comments on this on articles all over this site from those who have looked at the rules – I would link to some for you but I suspect you don’t actually care about the question being answered because you have your view and you’re going to stick with it. There are people on both sides who have spent a lot of the last three days commenting the same thing repeatedly and paying no heed to those who have a different viewpoint – the information is all on here if you actually wanted to hear it.

  13. But there will be others who would consider it a service to motorsport for him to challenge an officiating call which they feel prioritised the show above fair competition.

    I fear we will never explicitly hear from the horse’s mouth that the show was prioritised above fair competition (although given the choices Masi made with what was available to him, the overwhelming consensus is that this is indeed the case). If an appeal and court case is what it takes to at least try and get finality from Masi/FIA (not necessarily change/amend any race classifications) then Mercedes should absolutely proceed with this for the benefit of everyone, not just themselves. And if the potential case and outcome drags the sport through the mud even further, then so be it. We’ll only have Masi/FIA to thank for it, not Mercedes.

    Again though, not expecting any real kind of clarification or justification from Masi. After all, this is a guy who delivered the farcical “it was one of those, and that’s why we’ve decided not to investigate” line in Brazil.

    1. You confused Masi with the race stewards a few times.

      Masi gets a lot of unwarranted hate from people who do not understand this distinction.

      1. @uzsjgb I understand the distinction perfectly. Masi still has a responsibility to communicate effectively, which he has demonstrated on numerous occassions that he does not.

      2. Masi has the power to refer it to the stewards but it was deemed that no investigation was necessary. It is you that doesn’t understand the process @uzsjgb.

        1. The stewards are able to start a investigation on their own behalf.
          Masi can ask the stewards to start an investigation.
          Both are true.

      3. @uzsjgb I think the problem with Masi is he blurs the lines between what’s within his remit, and what he thinks should be his role. Not withstanding his snarky retorts, it took Johnathan Wheatley to call him out over Perez at Spa.
        Masi: “Hi Jonathan”
        Wheatley: “Hi Michael”
        Masi: “That would be a no.”
        Wheatley: “To what, the car re-joining the race?”
        Masi: “Yes.”
        Wheatley: “Why would that be?”
        Masi: “Because he got outside assistance to get back here.”
        Wheatley: “But mechanical assistance only counts in the race, and the race hasn’t started yet”
        Masi: “Err, let me have a chat to my steward friends”

      4. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
        15th December 2021, 17:43

        @uzsjgb regarding Brazil, any race director worth his salt would have rejected the stewards’ decision, reminding them that in Mexico he’d warned all teams that crowding was “strictly prohibited”. This is why Masi is unfit to be race director: one week he issues a stern warning on driving standards the next he no longer gives a jot.

  14. Mercedes do have a solid case. But after seeing the farce of 2008 being ratified, I’m not sure I’d hold my breath for any justice. Curious that Hamilton is an affected party by both episodes. If the result is overturned, there would be justice, but karma balance would be disturbed, haha. Maybe hierophant Alonso should weigh in with some wisdom at the hearing. >)

    Though, if there’s a driver used to litteraly step down in the history of this sport, sure as hell is Verstappen lol. It’d be the third or fourth time now?

    What I do feel Mercedes definitely should be pushing relentlessly for is towards Masi’s resignation.

    1. Spa was a farce also. FIA created a new punishment from thin air. Massa was handed a race win after he got promoted.
      Masi was not the first to create something from fresh air.

  15. Difficult position for Mercedes. They must feel so aggrieved that they want to appeal out of principle. But to appeal and lose would be further annoyance/embarrassment.
    Can’t see Lewis being overly pleased by having a title given to him in this way, or if he even has the last say on whether they try. I doubt it.

    Had Mercedes lost both titles they’d definitely have appealed.

    1. I want them to appeal. I would like the result changed, as the one that stands at present is wrong, from a sporting standpoint.
      However, even if the result doesn’t change, I want Masi out and F1 to become a fair sport, based on merit of performance and not on anything else. I want the rules to be applied fairly, firmly and consistently for all participants.

  16. Seconds after Mercedes didn’t pit Lewis for new tires they knew they f-d up big time. See the direct ranting of Lewis (youtube) when he find out Max got fresh reds. If you’re not aware than you don’t start ranting. Mercedes/Lewis both knew the possibility other cars could overtake and Max would eventually end up exactly behind him at the restart. Now Mercedes trying not to blame themselves but to find a scapegoat in the person of Masi.
    Just disgusting!

    1. If Masi had followed the regulations, the procedures he knows intimately and head been following regularly for his entire time in the sorry, and has even said on record he has no choice but to follow, and this has happened, then yes, it’s all down to Mercedes strategic choices and some luck.

      He didn’t. He ignored those procedures and invented something completely new. That’s not down to Mercedes strategic choices, that’s down to Masi’s choices.

    2. If you had bothered to watch the race, you’d have heard Lewis complaining about not pitting during the VSC and worrying that Max who had would catch him. That’s didn’t stop him from masterfully keeping up the pace on his old tyres in a way that effectively nullified Max’s advantage. The moral of the story is – please don’t use team radio as evidence of a supposed mistake on their part when the actual issue at hand was race-fixing by the Race Director.

    3. Everyone remembers all those events.

  17. The appeal probably isn’t filed because there are negotiations going on. Hamilton probably would have gotten a huge bonus for being champion. I believe Toto is the agent so he would get a chunk of that.

  18. I was immensely impressed by how Lewis has behaved after the race, and his conduct has only gone to increase my respect for him even further. I went into the race not minding which one of them won (I had supported Max for most of the season but some of his driving recently had turned me away from him a bit), as long as it wasn’t decided by a crash. I guess I got my wish, it just so happened that it was decided by something much worse and much harder to unpick.

    Lewis clearly lost the title in unfair and illegal circumstances, but circumstances that are likely to be incredibly difficult to correct, because Max has done nothing wrong (talking about Abu Dhabi in isolation here, not the rest of the season). However, Lewis was very controlled and very composed about the whole situation, which is I think a great trait to have. He congratulated Max, and I think both Mercedes but especially Lewis have made it clear that they aren’t overly annoyed at Red Bull or Max, but much more so at the FIA. He never lost his temper, and I think staying in the car for a bit once he reached parc ferme was a very good call just to let some of the initial emotion and anger (which is completely natural and warranted) die down a bit.

    I feel very sorry for both drivers in this. Lewis lost the title, and Max did nothing wrong, and now both of them (probably) have to sit on the sidelines and see their fate decided by a room full of lawyers.

    1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      15th December 2021, 17:48

      In other occasions drivers do nothing wrong but are excluded from a race by the actions of the team. I cannot give an example but I know I have heard the tv commentators trying to come up with a way that maybe a driver doesn’t lose out to the actions of their team.

    2. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
      15th December 2021, 17:53

      RandomMallard, well said. And seeing Hamilton Sr behave so graciously towards the Verstappens just showed what a classy family it is.

      After the safety car came out my thoughts were: “Verstappen’s won it!”; then: “It’ll finish under the safety car – Hamilton’s won it!”; then: “They’ll restart without unlapping the backmarkers – it’s anybody’s!”. And every time I thought the winner would be somewhat fortunate but deserving of the title. When it became obvious what Masi was up to, I felt sick. It was so obvious he wasn’t applying the rules, and so obvious who would finish ahead at the chequered flag, barring a crash.

      1. @slightlycrusty There’ll be a lot of talk about who ‘deserved’ the title over the next few weeks (my personal opinion is they both did, they were both excellent, with each having their own strength’s and weaknesses but ultimately balancing out). What’s clear though, is nobody, not Lewis, not Max, not the fans, deserved it to end the way it did.

        1. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
          15th December 2021, 20:55

          RandomMallard, yes I’ve been highly critical of some of Verstappen’s driving this year, but he looked pretty faultless during the final and I wouldn’t have begrudged him a win, even if it came with a large slice of luck. My guess is that Hamilton would not want this title, my only interest is in reforming the stewards and race director – and hopefully getting rid of the appalling Masi.

  19. It’s understandable that so much focus is put on Lewis’ position loss as a result of the Safety Car decision but Bottas lost 2 places as well. Mercedes were the biggest loser in this decision and in this case I feel they need to be the martyr for the good of the sport… So that this does not repeat again, to any team’s detriment. So that all drivers and teams can enter a race with confidence knowing that rules will be interpreted and applied in a consistent manner. So that penalties will be applied consistently as well (outside of the scope of the Race Director but still within the FIA)

    The complete radio silence from Mercedes comes as no surprise; this is now a legal case and they are advised to make no comments. What comes as a shock to me is that there has not yet been anything official posted from Formula 1 regarding this. I do not classify comments by Ross Brawn as “official” in this case, I expected Stefano Domenicali to make a statement on Monday and every day that goes by further tarnishes the reputation of Formula 1 as a “sport”

  20. RebelAngelFloyd (@)
    15th December 2021, 17:41

    What if….
    Hungary had been the last race?
    Or Silverstone?

    What would that mean voor the feel around a possible 8th title for knight Lewis?

  21. This is MORE than lewis and his 8th WDC. The result needs to be reversed crowning Lewis 8 time wdc to protect the entire legitimacy of F1 as the race officials and directors meddled in the ending of the race to deliberately deny competitors in bad faith fair and equal opportunities to race. This goes against the core foundation the FIA is built upon.

    Under EVERY (if boring but the rules don’t care about feelings) standard established restart procedure over the past 25 years followed strict guidelines. This was not followed on Sunday. What should’ve happened before artificial meddling would go as follows:

    Finish under yellow declaring Lewis a winner, yes its boring for the adhd reddit zoomer generation casuals who got started on F1 after drive to survive but if this was the second race of the season would race control break the rules to force one last green lap?

    Make a compromise due to time and have one green lap but WITH all lapped cars in place to not trigger an extra sc lap, this would also make lewis win as the buffer of lapped cars in between him and max would slow down max enough for Lewis to gap and be safe to take the win.

    Red flag and have 2-3 laps racing, I guess masi also vetoed this because Mercedes would get a ‘free’ tyre change.

    So the only scenario where lewis has a near zero chance of winning was the one masi(or someone who forced him to make the call) at the last moment invented out of thin air to screw over lewis arbitrarily removing the ‘buffer’ cars to deliberately and artificially give a competitor(max) the best chance of a win.

    This is why i am convinced that the results should be reversed classifying the race to be correctly finishing under yellows as the pace car should’ve pitted under the regulations one lap later anyway due to cars unlapping themselves.
    Where the race stewards incriminated themselves is the last second decision to ONLY allow SOME cars(must be a coincidence that the only cars ordered to unlap was the ones that would ‘hold’ up max in the restart as he cant overtake cars until he crosses the line…) to unlap themselves BUT not others.
    On appeal the sc going by the letter of the law must stay out for ONE more lap after the last unlapped car passes the sc. Also masi is wrong saying that he has power to overrule the sc ending protocol, yes he can overrule the track clerk but NOT the rules themselves and invent new ones. This is the clear, logical and solid argument to hand Lewis the win .

    If masi allowed the race to restart with lapped cars in place and lewis lost, fair play to max but masi (or whoever ordered him)panicked, got desperate and made up rules that don’t exist to basically guarantee one green lap to give max the best opportunity to overtake Lewis on fresh softs. The actions i just mentioned renders the last lap overtake null and void as the race should’ve ended under yellows but was forced green due to the illegal meddling of race control.

    One extra note to add to the conspiracy charge, i don’t think masi made the final call hence why he has so far refused to ‘fall on his sword’ and step down. I think an external source above him in the chain of command forced him to remove the lapped cars in front of max at the last minute which opens another huge can of worms for the FIA and this is why they will try to do everything humanly possible to stop this going to ‘court’ which opens them up to discovery , testimonies and data that might incriminate themselves further(was the sc ordered to go extra slow on the main straights to buy time to restart the race?).


    The FIA must reverse this farcical and corrupt result and crown Lewis WDC to protect the legitimacy of F1 as it is fast falling into disrepute.

    1. I agree Masi was the puppet used by the higher management. I wonder if it went to court if Merc’s legal team could get access to all communications with Masi.

  22. A fair competition? There is the crux of the biscuit. There are so many aspects of this year and especially of this “donk dominance” era that would be deemed by many to be anything but fair. This is F1. Who said life was fair? Who would suggest F1 has ever been “fair”; really? I have always had in the back of my mind the scenario of a lapped car in the field, with loyalty’s to a championship contending team and the risk of tyre deflation’s on the cards, conveniently smacking a wall and taking a few minutes to get out of his/her car so the race can end nice and peacefully under a safety car and gaurantee a win for the favoured team. This is so on the cards, as millions of dollars are at stake, that to deny the possibility thereof is disingenuous. Compared to the v8 era this era is very low on the “fair” scale to me. A reply fuse patiently perched at the end of the article. Fair? Silverstone sort of fair? That’s all about honour; different subject altogether I suppose.

  23. FIA released a statement

    MB drop of appeal is imminent

    1. @hannesch It’s not a statement, it’s a word salad of “misunderstanding” and hollow promises of “an investigation to learn lessons”. They should be in politics.

      Laughably pathetic.

  24. He wasn’t robbed.

    1. FIA robbed him and laughed about it in his face.

  25. Nothing to lose for Mercedes, go ahead with an appeal!
    “Unworthy losers” – Red Bull adviser Helmut Marko directs harsh words towards Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton
    Helmut Marko: “I think they are unworthy losers. We don’t care, we are also the moral winners, whether it comes left or right.”

  26. Pretty embarrassing for ham so I can imagine his reluctance at being given a title.

    I mean, the only thing worse than being gifted six titles in the most dominant car ever, would be to be gifted yet another in a court room! Lol

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