Max Verstappen prevails in world title shoot-out
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Mercedes have officially confirmed their decision to drop their appeal over the FIA’s rejection of their initial protests regarding the final laps of Sunday’s controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Silver Arrows had been weighing up their options behind closed doors over the last few days following Max Verstappen’s maiden Drivers’ Championship triumph at the Yas Marina Circuit.
The Dutchman managed to force his way past Hamilton on the final lap of the race after a late safety car period was ended in order to enable a dramatic one-lap shootout for glory.
FIA race director Michael Masi’s handling of the situation has sparked plenty of criticism and controversy in the days since, with Mercedes understood to be incensed by the manner of Hamilton’s last-gasp defeat.
They quickly protested against the race result but saw their complaints waved away by motorsport’s governing body before following up by giving notice of their intention to appeal.
Mercedes are expected to appear at this evening’s FIA Prize Giving Ceremony in order to accept their eighth successive Constructors’ Championship title.
Verstappen and Red Bull will also be in attendance for the 24-year-old to get his hands on the Drivers’ Championship trophy for the very first time.
Express Sport is on hand to provide live updates throughout the day as the dust continues to settle on Sunday’s historic race.
JUST IN: Max Verstappen admits he ‘cried’ in car as he outlines his future plan
Horner disagrees with Wolff
Christian Horner and Toto Wolff’s comments suggest a fundamental disagreement in the reasoning behind the withdrawal of Mercedes’ appeal into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Where Wolff suggested that Mercedes withdrew their appeal because they felt the FIA could not be trusted ‘to mark their own homework’, Horner believes that Red Bull’s rivals had ‘no grounds’ for a complaint in the first place.
Verstappen on Mercedes antics
Verstappen has also had his say on Toto Wolff and Mercedes’ huge complaints and protests since Sunday’s race.
When asked about whether the threat of legal action had worried him, Verstappen replied: “Not really.
“We were having a really good time as a team because we knew we won it on track.
“And there was a green light or a green flag [with the stewards’ verdict] and nobody could ever take that away from us, so I was in a good mood.”
Verstappen offers Hamilton advice
Max Verstappen has offered some advice to Lewis Hamilton amid the rumours that he is considering retiring from F1.
Verstappen spoke ahead of the FIA prize-giving gala, in which he will celebrate winning his first-ever world championship.
And the Dutchman has urged his rival not to stop racing just yet, and provided some words of wisdom to the Brit.
Ecclestone aims Wolff jibe
Bernie Ecclestone has never been one to hide how he is feeling.
And the F1 legend has hit out at Mercedes boss Toto Wolff for his dramatic reaction to defeat in Abu Dhabi.
Ecclestone went as far as to say Wolff should be given an “Oscar for acting”
Leclerc tests positive again
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc has tested positive for Covid-19, it has been confirmed.
The Belgian also contracted the virus back in January.
A tweet from Ferrari on Thursday read: “[Charles] has tested positive for COVID-19. In accordance with protocols required by FIA and the team, Charles was tested on his return from Abu Dhabi.
“He is currently feeling fine, with mild symptoms and will self-isolate at home.”
Norris opens up on mental health
Lando Norris – who finished seventh in Sunday’s controversial Abu Dhabi season finale ‑ admitted to battles with mental health and anxiety after making his bow in the sport two years ago.
Today the 22-year-old speed demon is on top of his emotions and his blistering form has seen him singled out for superstardom.
Yet he told the Daily Express coming clean was the best decision he ever made and encouraged others to do the same.
READ MORE HERE
Hill’s ‘rough’ claims
Damon Hill has claimed that Red Bull played ‘rough’ in order to win the world championship this season.
Max Verstappen was regularly accused of driving to a level which many considered over the limit of what is considered safe.
And Hill told Sky Sports: “I think these are the new rules. I think it’s a new style of race directing, I think that Mercedes have struggled with the decisions that have been made.
“Red Bull played rough, but they’ve persuaded the race director that cars should be allowed to race, and it should be a robust kind of formula, and they’ve prevailed.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has identified the decision to change Max Verstappen’s tyres before the last-lap showdown at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as the defining moment that sealed the Dutchman’s very first Drivers’ Championship triumph.
“It was a great strategy call, we rolled the dice, we took the risk,” Horner told GP Fans.
“We pitted, we put the softs on and had nothing to lose and we were surprised that Mercedes didn’t do likewise because Lewis had been on those tyres for close to 40 or so laps.
“We were in the perfect position for the restart and we have seen that before. It happened to us in Barcelona where Lewis had a free stop but it all worked out and I think that Max had to make that pass at the end of the day.
“He had one lap to do it, and Turn Five he fully sent it.”
Crofty defends Mercedes
Sky Sports F1 commentator David Croft has revealed that he does not blame Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton for refusing to attend this evening’s FIA Prize Giving Ceremony in the wake of Sunday’s wildly controversial events.
“I say good on Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton for not going to the FIA gala tonight,” he told Sky Sports News.
“Why go along and sit there when they still feel such raw, strong emotions from Sunday in Abu Dhabi? Why go along to attend a prize giving gala?
“I’m sure they could actually do with a break from the sport.
“With time and a bit of a break from the on-track action [and] the hectic day-by-day nature of F1, I think they’ll change their opinions and they’ll want to be there for that first race [next year] in Bahrain.”
More from Toto
Toto Wolff went on to question the details of Michael Masi’s unusual decision to only allow some lapped drivers to unlap themselves under the safety car during the latter stages of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
“If you decide to deploy the safety car there’s clear regulations in place,” added the Mercedes team principal.
“The regulations are that all cars need to unlap themselves before the race can be restarted.
“And only in the following lap, once all cars have unlapped themselves, the safety car may come in.
“None of that happened. None of that happened. Randomly, cars were allowed to overtake and to un-lap themselves.
“Why was Carlos Sainz not given the opportunity to win the race? Why were the cars left in between there.
“Why was the safety car pulled in against what the regulations say? So the ad-hoc decision-making just caused this mayhem.”
Lewis to retire?
Toto Wolff has suggested that Lewis Hamilton could sensationally decide to end his career in F1 as a direct result of Sunday’s controversial events in Abu Dhabi.
“He will never overcome the pain and the distress that was caused on Sunday,” said the Mercedes boss.
“I would very much hope Lewis continues racing because he is the greatest driver of all time.
“As a racer his heart will say I need to continue because he’s at the peak of his game.
“But we have to overcome the pain that was caused upon him on Sunday. He is a man with clear values.”
Toto slams Masi
Toto Wolff has finallly broken his silence on the events of Sunday’s race, with the Mercedes team principal offering his thoughts on the ensuing chaos in a press conference this afternoon.
He was visibly furious in the immediate aftermath of proceedings in Abu Dhabi and did not mince his words when quizzed on Michael Masi’s handling of the race.
“It was a freestyle reading of the rules and it left Lewis like a sitting duck,” said Wolff.
The 49-year-old was speaking shortly after it was announced that Mercedes would not be appealing the FIA’s decision to reject their earlier protests with regards to the last few laps.
Mercedes snub FIA event
Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton will not be in attendance at this evening’s FIA Prize Giving Ceremony in Paris, according to ESPN.
The event, which takes place at the end of each year, is held to honour all FIA champions over the course of that season.
It remains to be seen whether Hamilton will be hit with a fine if he is deemed to be in breach of the F1 regulations by skipping the ceremony.
Article 6.6 states: “The drivers finishing first, second and third in the Championship must be present at the annual FIA Prize Giving Ceremony.”
Alonso ready for 2022
Fernando Alonso has declared that he is already looking forward to the return of F1 next year, insisting that he will be in great shape for the new season in spite of his plans to undergo further surgery on his jaw.
The Spaniard was struck by a car while riding his bicycle in February and was forced to drastically alter his pre-season preparations as a result of his injuries.
“I’m super strong, I’m ready, I can start the season next week in Bahrain,” Alonso told the F1 website.
“I was planning to have a different preparation next year, not because the cars will be different, but just because last winter I couldn’t do a proper preparation because of the bike accident.
“I’m closer than 10 months ago. [It’s] difficult to know the limit and where we could get next year. I think we need a good winter, that’s for sure.”
Max: We hated each other
Max Verstappen has admitted that he and Lewis Hamilton hated each other at times during this year’s battle for Drivers’ Championship glory.
The pair came to blows on a number of occasions over the course of the campaign before the Dutchman clinched the end-of-season honours under controversial circumstances on Sunday.
“You look each other in the eye,” he told the BBC when quizzed on his rivalry with Hamilton.
“You don’t say a lot but you do relate a lot and you really appreciate the fight.
“Sometimes we did hate each other, but that’s fine. That’s the competitive spirit of both of us. He is an incredible driver.”
Mercedes drop appeal
Mercedes have officially announced that they will not be appealing the result of Sunday’s race.
Horner reveals Wolff message
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has explained that he received a text message from his Mercedes counterpart, Toto Wolff, to congratulate him on Max Verstappen’s title win after Sunday’s race at the Yas Marina Circuit.
“Yes, I went to see Toto after the race,” Horner told RaceFans.
“Unfortunately, he was unavailable, but I saw Ola Kallenius [chairman of the board of Daimler] who congratulated me.
“Then Toto later in the evening did, as he sent to Max, he sent me a text congratulating us on the Drivers’ Championship.
“I congratulated him on winning the Constructors’ Championship and reminded him that’s where the money is paid, not the Drivers’.
“And that was it, I haven’t heard or spoken with him since.”
Wolff weighs in
Susie Wolff, the wife of Mercedes team principal Toto, has explained her thoughts on Sunday’s controversial race in a lengthy Twitter post…
Max speaks out
Max Verstappen has declared that he is not concerning himself with Mercedes and their decision to submit notice of their intention to appeal Sunday’s race result.
The Dutchman, who was given a hero’s welcome at the Red Bull factory on Wednesday, is refusing to allow the situation to overshadow his first Drivers’ Championship triumph in spite of its controversial nature.
“I don’t even think about it too much because I do feel like the world champion and it doesn’t matter what they try to do,” Verstappen told RaceFans.
“We won it on track. We won it when there was a green flag, green lights and we passed them on track and they will never be able to take that away from me, anyway.
“About the possible appeal or whatever, I’m not busy with that. As a team, of course it might be disturbing, but for us, we have been really enjoying the last few days.”
Mercedes ‘to ditch appeal’
Mercedes are preparing to abandon their plans to appeal the result of Sunday’s title decider in Abu Dhabi, according to the Daily Mail.
It is said that Lewis Hamilton has instructed the German outfit to stand down in order to avoid a long and drawn-out battle to strip Max Verstappen of his maiden Drivers’ Championship title.
Although the 36-year-old was deeply hurt by the manner of his defeat at the Yas Marina Circuit, he does not believe that it would be in the sport’s best interests to pursue a legal solution.
The Silver Arrows are expected to announce their decision later today ahead of this evening’s deadline.
Hello and welcome to Express Sport‘s live coverage of the post-race fallout and best reaction to Sunday’s title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The clock is still ticking for Mercedes to submit a fresh appeal to the FIA after declaring their intention to do so following the conclusion of the race at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Meanwhile, the Silver Arrows and Red Bull are both due to appear at this evening’s Prize Giving Ceremony to accept their respective titles, with Max Verstappen set to pick up the Drivers’ Championship trophy for the very first time.
Stay with us for all the latest news and updates from the world of F1 throughout the day.
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