The most exciting Formula One season in years should have finished with Max Verstappen’s championship-clinching overtake on Lewis Hamilton on the penultimate lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The FIA dismissed a pair of appeals submitted by Mercedes over the contentious end of Sunday’s race, roughly five hours after Verstappen became the first Dutch champion in F1 history.
But the saga is far from over: Mercedes filed for reconsideration with the International Court of Appeal, handing in the paperwork as Hamilton drove away from Yas Marina Circuit without remark.
“Not much really to say about that. I think it also sums up a little bit the season,” Verstappen said hours earlier as the FIA heard Mercedes’ two protests.
Hamilton’s record ninth title was snatched away with five circuits to go after an accident by Nicholas Latifi brought out the safety car and forced race director Michael Masi to make a judgment.
The season-ending race and championship could be decided under yellow, or, the track could be cleaned for one final lap of racing.
After blasting past pole-sitter Verstappen from the start, Hamilton was on cruise control and controlled Sunday.
He led 51 of the 58 laps and was just minutes away from breaking a tie with Michael Schumacher for an eighth title, which would cement his position as the greatest driver in F1 history.
Masi’s decision to go green with a lap to go allowed Verstappen to past Hamilton in turn five – Hamilton got a decent shot at the lead in turn nine but couldn’t execute the move – in a spectacular climax to a title duel that will be remembered as one of the finest ever.