The ugly off-track conclusion to the 2021 Formula One world championship is rolling on this morning as Mercedes continue to fight in the wake of Sunday’s controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen was crowned world champion in controversial circumstances, using a safety car restart – and a helping hand from the FIA – to overtake rival Lewis Hamilton on the final lap at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Join Sportsmail’s BEN NAGLE for the latest updates as the fight for the Formula One title continues…
That’s all from us today in our coverage of the F1 fallout. This is a fast-developing story so be sure to keep up to date by following our home page, HERE.
Until next time, good night!
Unheard audio from Lewis Hamilton shows the Mercedes man claim the result in Abu Dhabi was manipulated.
Click below to read more.
While his Red Bull team were partying until 7am on a yacht, Max Verstappen was enjoying a refreshing dip in the pool.
The Dutchman was seen jumping into a swimming pool in a video posted to Instagram by DJ Martin Garrix.
Hamilton missed out on an eighth world championship by a whisker but he didn’t let his disappointment show in the immediate aftermath in Abu Dhabi.
The Briton was classy in defeat and allowed Verstappen to have his moment. A real sporting great.
Celebrations and respect on the podium 💪#AbuDhabiGP 🇦🇪 #F1 pic.twitter.com/2LOwnDSI29
It’s been some season for Verstappen, full of highs and lowers. So when the opportunity to let his hair down arose last night, he took it with both hands.
According to reports, the Red Bull team partied until 7am on a YACHT in Abu Dhabi!
Click below to read more.
A dejected Lewis Hamilton has got the Formula 1 world talking after dropping a cryptic hint over his potential retirement following a controversial end to the championship campaign.
Following the race, Hamilton picked his words carefully but would only go as far as to say he would ‘see’ about next year.
‘I think we did an amazing job this year,” Hamilton told the Sky Sports cameras immediately after the race.
‘My team worked so hard this whole year, it’s been the most difficult of seasons.
We gave it everything and never gave up and that’s the most important thing.
‘We’ll see about next year.’
As you’d perhaps expect, Michael Masi is on the end of some pretty vitriolic abuse from Mercedes and Hamilton fans today.
One wrote: ‘No matter whom you support, Max or Lewis, I think both sides can agree Masi needs to be fired. The guy is as consistent as the UK’s lockdown rules.’
To see more reaction, have a look at our full article:
Former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson is the latest to weigh in on the debate…
This could be hugely significant. The Times are reporting that Mercedes are thinking about scrapping their appeal against Verstappen winning the title.
They report that the team are leaning towards putting the reputation of the sport before any desire to see Hamilton crowned world champion for an eighth time.
For the full story, click below…
Well, here it is…
That extraordinary final lap of the 2021 title race in full 😮#AbuDhabiGP 🇦🇪 #F1 pic.twitter.com/kknTMDfpAF
Former F1 champion Damon Hill has accused Red Bull of ‘playing rough’ with Michael Masi after Christian Horner ‘persuaded’ the race director to gain an advantage, allowing Max Verstappen to controversially pip Lewis Hamilton to the drivers’ title at the death.
‘I think these are new rules,’ Hill told Sky Sports. ‘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.’
While Hill wasn’t necessarily on board with Red Bull or Horner’s tactics, the former champion insists ‘the right man won’ given how Verstappen won more races over the F1 calendar.
‘You can’t have them both win, unfortunately,’ he added.
For the full story, see below…
Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has put Max Verstappen’s first ever Formula One world title down to ‘ideal’ safety car timing and two big mistakes from their rivals at Mercedes.
‘The safety car came at the ideal time for us,’ he told Speedweek. ‘After all the bad luck we’ve had this year, luck had to turn in our favour at some point. That happened. And the decision to put on the soft tires during Max’s last pit stop was spot on.
‘Mercedes actually missed two safety car phases. They made it easy for us to work in this direction.’
England captain Harry Kane is among the big names questioning the decision to allow Max Verstappen to close the gap to Lewis Hamilton while the safety car was deployed.
Here’s what he said…
The Daily Mail’s chief sports writer Martin Samuel had his say on the controversial circumstances in a brilliant piece in today’s paper. You can read his views here:
In response to the news that Mercedes could take it further, the Red Bull team principal said:
‘If they appeal, they appeal. We’ll fight it in the appeal court and then in a legal court after that.’
Mercedes have until Thursday to make a final decision on their appeal, but at this stage you’d think it’s most likely they will push higher in a bid to change the result.
Well, things could get uglier. As reported by Sportsmail on Sunday night, Mercedes are now considering whether to take the battle a step further – and into the courtroom.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was last night locked in talks with the team’s barrister, Paul Harris QC, a distinguished sports lawyer who has acted for Premier League football clubs, including Manchester City and Liverpool.
Here’s the full story:
For balance, we should put across Red Bull’s response to how the race ended… and as you might expect, they were happier with the result than Mercedes.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: ‘We never wanted to end up in front of the stewards. We don’t go racing with barristers. It was a shame it ended up there but the stewards made the right call.
‘We have talked about ‘let them race’. [The late Mercedes non-executive chairman] Niki Lauda was the guy who pushed hard for it and we’ve always talked about not finishing races under safety cars. The race director in difficult circumstances made absolutely the right call.’
I’ll try and explain this as simply as I can, but as I’m sure you can understand, the FIA rulebook does tend to get a little wordy. It’s pretty clear why Mercedes would be furious, though.
Essentially, during a safety car period of a race, lapped cars are usually allowed to unlap themselves, in order for them to push further up the road and therefore not interfere with the race.
The confusion in Abu Dhabi first stemmed when Michael Masi – the race director – initially appeared to not want the five cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to move, before then changing his mind and allowing it.
Mercedes’ argument, though, is that Masi allowed the five back markers between Hamilton and Verstappen to move, but not the cars between Verstappen in second and Charles Leclerc in third.
Article 48.12 of the sporting regulations says: ‘If the clerk of the course considers it safe to do so, and the message ‘lapped cars may now overtake’ has been sent to all competitors via the official messaging system, any cars that have been lapped by the leader will be required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the safety car.’
At the same time, article 48.12 of the sporting regulations says that ‘once the last lapped car has passed the leader, the safety car will return to the pits at the end of the following lap’.
In that explanation, the word ‘following’ is hugely important. Controversially, the race in Abu Dhabi was started at the end of the same lap.
If it had been a lap later, Mercedes argued, Hamilton would have won the race.
Toto Wolff and his Mercedes team, unsurprisingly, are furious with the result of the race and immediately made two appeals to the FIA.
The first, and most important, of the two protests was surrounding race director Michael Masi, with Mercedes claiming he did not apply the rules correctly.
The second appeal was regarding Verstappen nosing ahead of Hamilton a number of times before the restart at the end of the race.
Both appeals have been rejected, paving the way for an ugly off-track battle in the close season.
Firstly, let me explain what’s happened so far, so we’re all up to date and can go through all the latest news as we get it throughout the day.
Sunday’s race in Abu Dhabi, as I’m sure you are aware, was a straight shootout for the title between Hamilton and Verstappen. As the race drew to its conclusion, it looked for all the world as though Hamilton was going to secure his eighth title… until some major controversy in the final laps.
A safety car was brought out in the wake of Nicholas Latifi’s shunt, bunching the field up and decimating Hamilton’s lead over Verstappen. At this point though, with just a handful of laps remaining, the title was still his to lose, given that there were five lapped cars between the two drivers. Essentially, when the safety car headed in, Verstappen would still have had to get past the five back-markers before taking on his Mercedes rival.
That was, until the FIA made the decision to remove the lapped cars from the equation just before restarting the race, giving Verstappen the chance to move directly behind Hamilton when the lights went green. Unsurprisingly, given he was on fresher tyres, it then didn’t take much for the Red Bull man to get through – going on to win his first ever world title.
As you can expect, that was just the start of the controversy, with plenty happening off-track in the hours since.
Hello and welcome to Sportsmail’s live blog in the wake of a pretty remarkable weekend of Formula One action. Most years, the morning after the final race would be very quiet. Some sore heads among the winning teams, and feet up for the others as they look ahead to a few weeks off between seasons. This year, though, it’s anything but. Let me explain…
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