Here’s What Can Happen If Mercedes Appeal Verstappen’s Championship – WTF1
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Here’s What Can Happen If Mercedes Appeal Verstappen’s Championship

They’ve been fighting on track and before the stewards, but now Red Bull and Mercedes could be on their way to settle the championship in court. The Silver Arrows have announced their intention to appeal the stewards’ decision to dismiss their protest against the Safety Car restart on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time a season finale has ended in the courtroom. In 2007, McLaren’s attempts to have Williams’ Nico Rosberg and BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica disqualified from title-deciding Brazilian Grand Prix for an apparent fuel infringement was thrown out. If successful, Lewis Hamilton would have been crowned champion rather than Kimi Raikkonen.

So how does this appeal system work, and what happens next?

WHERE DO THEY APPEAL TO?

Under Article 15.1.5 of the FIA’s International Sporting Code, if a team are unhappy with a stewards’ decision, they can appeal to the International Court of Appeal (ICA).

The ICA isn’t a regular court. It’s dedicated exclusively to settling disputes across the various FIA championships worldwide. Made up of 36 elected judges, it’s independent from the FIA, so no officials can interfere with their decisions.

HOW DO THEY APPEAL?

According to Article 10 of FIA’s Judicial and Disciplinary Rules, Mercedes had to give a written notice of an intention to appeal within one hour of the stewards’ dismissing their protest, and they’ll need to pay a €6,000 deposit.

This isn’t the appeal itself, but more of a ‘we’re thinking about it’. From there, they’ll have 96 hours to decide whether or not to actually go through with it and inform the stewards of their choice.

Mercedes will then have 15 days to detail why the Sporting Regulations were breached at the restart and that the stewards were wrong to throw out their protest. The stewards then have a further 15 days to present their response.

After that, all those involved needed to wait another fifteen days, although these time limits may be shortened if all sides agree to it. Can anyone else spot the problem here? This is taking at least a month already, and nobody’s come to a decision yet.

When Alfa Romeo tried to appeal Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi’s 30-second time penalties for clutch offences at the start of the 2019 German Grand Prix, the appeal took almost two months to be decided. 

Their appeal was ultimately unsuccessful, allowing Robert Kubica to keep Williams’ only point of the season.

Haas’ appeal against Romain Grosjean’s disqualification from sixth-place at the 2018 Italian Grand Prix took around the two-month mark as well. The judges upheld the decision to exclude him for an illegal floor.

Once everything has been submitted, it’s time for the hearing. A panel is formed of at least three judges, and because F1 is special, Article 2.4 states the panel “shall comprise at least one judge elected on proposal of any group of five competitors of such Championship”. To put it simply, the teams can help decide one of the judges.

At the hearing, both sides present their arguments, calling up witnesses and experts who can be questioned. For example, Mercedes potentially might enlist representatives from their rival teams who would have unlapped themselves under the usual circumstances.

Lastly, the judges can go off to come to a decision in secret. However, they don’t all need to agree as only a simple majority is needed.

WHAT DECISIONS CAN BE MADE?

They can admit or dismiss the appeal, all of it or only parts of it. They can confirm, overturn, reduce or increase any penalties awarded. 

Fundamentally for Mercedes, they can annul or amend the results of a competition, but they can’t order it to be re-run.

Consequently, the Abu Dhabi results could be switched back to what they were on the penultimate lap. However, no matter how much Red Bull or Mercedes kick up a fuss, we’re not having another 2021 season finale.

An opinion to re-examine the decision is always there if new evidence is discovered after they’ve made the decision, and no, that doesn’t mean getting Alex Albon to recreate the last two laps, Christian Horner.

WHAT ABOUT SCHUMACHER’S 1997 DISQUALIFICATION?

That decision wasn’t made by the ICA. Michael Schumacher’s disqualification from the 1997 Championship for his controversial title deciding collision with Jacques Villeneuve at the season finale European Grand Prix in Jerez went to a disciplinary hearing at the FIA World Motor Sport Council.

Crucial difference is, the ICA can only act if someone appeals a decision, whereas the stewards can directly reference incidents to the World Motor Sport Council if they think it deserves further punishment without needing an appeal.

Basically, the fight for the 2021 title is probably going to continue on well into the New Year!

Should Mercedes appeal the stewards’ decision? Let us know in the comments below.

96 thoughts on “Here’s What Can Happen If Mercedes Appeal Verstappen’s Championship

  • I personlly dont want this championship to be decided off track i want the championship TO ONLY be decieded on track and persenolly want them to leave it as it is. And i want to add that Mercedes fricked up there pitstop strategy not boxing Hamilton once during the two diffrent safety cars and with that in mind it wasnt all to blame Michael Masi (Michael Sasi) but also James Vowles (Yes i googeld the mercedes strategyst) so merc is also att fault here.

    • As much as I agree with you, I also think Merc are right to bring this, because what happened yesterday was neither right nor fair for anyone (and I include Max in that, because a segment of the fans are going to be saying “He only won because his team boss bullied the race director” – and he doesn’t deserve that) – and I’d be saying that if positions were reversed and it was RBR bringing this. Even if, ultimately, the appeal is rejected, hopefully it will mean that the rules are adjusted to remove any ambiguity and any wiggle room/area for doubt.

    • They develop their strategy based on the framework of the rules and regulations. Had those been followed, race would have ended under SC and Ham the winner. You blaming the Merc strategy is like blaming a losing club for expecting play to stop at a buzzer/whistle and allowing a surprise goal.

    • Jorge Martinez Acosta says:

      Agree! Mercedes chose track position over tires, even Hamilton complained about it (he is good at complaining)

      They had no guts to make the risky decision and now want to blame Masi.

      If Hamilton had changed tires Max would have stayed out and Hamilton could have done what Max did

  • I don’t think anyone wants to see this settle in these disputes and legal battles. Futhermore, how hard will Lewis get booed every race for the years to come if they end up taking the championship away from Max and give it to Lewis? Is this how he would want to win his record breaking Eight title? Whatever happens, it’s tainted and just not feeling right. I believe moving on would be better, and settle this on track next year.

    • At this point Lewis doesn’t care I guess. He’s been driving as clean as he can, within the rules so that he gets screwed over by the rules itself? I won’t be surprised if we see Hamilton V2 next year.

      • I think the inconsistency was all over the place for both drivers this season. Sometimes in favor of Verstappen, sometimes in favor of Hamilton. I agree we’ll probably see a more aggressive version of Lewis next year.

      • Jorge Martinez Acosta says:

        😂😂😂. Silverstone??? He sent Max to the hospital! And then celebrated like mad…. If Max had finished that race (or Hungary) this last race would have had no meaning. Red Bull would have won both driver and constructors

        Mercedes clearly decided not to pit! Even Hamilton said it was the wrong decision. Chose track position over tires, and now want to blame Masi for it.

    • I would say Hamilton has already moved on. Mercedes, however, spends a lot of time and resources to compete in Formula 1, and if they feel like the FIA wronged them out of a title than they’re probably going to use every given opportunity to prove that/change the outcome.

    • Disagree. I think it’s a matter of the integrity of the sport. It’s bigger than any one team or driver. They are doing the right thing, or FIA will always get away with operating like thugs and the sport will be dead

    • I don’t think he will get booed at all. There’s just as much chance of max getting booed as well. This should of been settled right after the race and FIA hand over the championship then.

  • Daniel and Lance also sounded very displeased by the decision. Rightly so because they had new softs tyres while the bunch in front of them had used hards or mediums. Race director’s decision just played completely disadvantageous to those who were stuck behind Max.

  • Masi in 2020 insisted that ALL cars unlap the leader at the Eifel GP before the race recommenced. Yesterday he let the 5 cars between Lewis and Max pass then withdrew the safety car. He was right in 2020 and wrong in 2021. Appeal upheld.

      • It’s well established in case law that “any” means “all”. Legal dictionaries make that clear, as have sports lawyers following this race. Specifically, “any” extends to all parties in a group. That means that either every lapped car must pass, or none at all. It’s true that Masi has ultimate authority over safety car deployment (Clause 15.3). However, under the sporting regulations all clauses have equal weight. So he was obliged to follow precisely the regulations governing the use of the safety car. These only allowed discretion to call the safety car in one lap earlier if unlapped cars were far enough ahead. Vitally, Masi had no authority whatsoever to let only some cars unlap themselves. It’s unprecedented and breached the regulations. He actually admitted his motive was to create a ‘motor race’. But an F1 motor race can legally only be run in accordance with the regulations. Unfortunately Masi and the stewards aren’t lawyers, so rejection of Mercedes appeals was flawed. That’s why all written stewards judgements contain the caveat that decisions aren’t final if a party wishes to appeal to the FIA Appeals Court. As others have pointed out here, Masi has previously defended complaints about long safety car periods precisely because regulations require all back markers must unlap themselves. Otherwise it’s not a fair or legal race.

  • My viewpoint, the title has been tainted. Max won through some great driving and ultimately a handout from the Race Director. It will always be that way, let it be.

    Moving forward, Mercedes should use this monumental fudge up to start some kind of vote of no confidence against Masi. This year has been farcical. 2021 is a non-championship.

    • Totally agree. Whatever happens, it wasn’t Max’s fault that it happened. If Red Bull had won the Constructors with what happened, I could see it. But we all watched what happened and I don’t think it’s fair to take it away from Max.

      That said, I can’t see how Masi comes back next year. He’s been over some seriously controversial calls this season. I think the teams will agree that he needs to be replaced.

      • Arjen Kersing says:

        Masi is simply the scape-goat. It’s very clear that FOM is ultimately behind this. There is no such thing as bad publicity. Controversies attract huge extra crowds of new fans. I think it’s a dangerous precedent that needs to be reverted.

        • they prioritized the show over the racing to get more eyes and seat from new fans. They have seen it after Netflix released DTS.

          • Nigel Stronge says:

            If that’s the case then the championship result should be changed- F1 teams don’t spend £100’s millions to get a manufactured result. It’s meant to be F1 not WWF1.

        • Masi is selfmade scape goat… Being in his shoes I would resign and issue a big appology… This could calm the situation and maybe avoid a court session as well…

  • I hope mercedes pursue this all the way. I’m not a Merc fan but it’s important this sort of scenario never happens again to anyone. We cannot have the race director simply making it up as he goes!

    • Adrian marrero says:

      There you are wrong my friend. The Race Director have full control of the Safety Car, you can read it yourselves on the sporting regulations.

      • He can call out the safety car but he must still follow the regulations of the safety car, not make up those rules as he goes. Massi overstepped and abused his authority with this safety car. As you say, read the rules for yourself and it’s clear.

          • The rules were not followed. According to the rules all lapped cars need to pass the lead car and the safety car, and the safety car must leave the race in the following lap! The following clauses that talk about the director being able to control the safety cars decisions are not stating that he can break the previous rules. In any serious court Mercedes will win this trial!

          • Adrian marrero says:

            There is actually no rule that stated All the lapped cars need to pass the safety car. There is a big IF in the beginning on the 48.12 rule that gives the race director the room for making what he did. There is no need for the lapped cars tu unlap themselves.

          • i just find it funny that the notifications for the lapped cars and the safety car coming in on the same lap was flashed seconds from each other.

          • Any doesn’t mean all, though you’re missing the next line.

            “Any cars…will be required….”

            The will be required makes it compulsory, not a choice.

            Frankly, Max deserved to win, better driver in the year, more victories etc, but it’s was a dreadful way to end the season.

          • Nigel Stronge says:

            That’s incorrect- any means all- there is not precedent for unlapping some cars and not the rest and that’s the issue.

          • We agree on the issue.

            Though a rule may be written saying ANY car MAY unlap itself, then not all cars would need to.

            The rule says MUST so leaving some lapped was a clear failure to apply the rules.

          • More victories? 9v8 before this joke and only then he was ahead for winning a race that never happened in Spa. What a joke.

          • Utter bollocks – Masi has completely contradicted himself with the comments and the way he handled the SC at the Nurburgring!!

            This was a complete stitch up for RB!!

        • Where does it say that? Quote the reg that is beyond “Director has full authority and control of the safety car.”

  • Marcus Wernersson says:

    I think RC should be overhauled in general. The fact that Hamilton got 26 points in Silverstone and Verstappen got 0 is a real problem.

    In general rules and punishments are necessary that it should not be an advantage to crash into people.

    • “The fact that Hamilton got 26 points in Silverstone and Verstappen got 0 is a real problem.”
      Why should Hamilton have his points stripped from him because of a dumb defensive move by Mad Max?

      • Marcus Wernersson says:

        Hamilton was deemed at fault by RC. Punishment was in the end nothing. It would have been totally fair punishment with a DSQ.

  • Smh if lewis had won the title people would be saying masi handed it to lewis by not bringing in the SC. Merc needs to stop being sore losers and move on. They’re not even losers lmao! They won the WCC! Sore winners i guess

    • Massi was correct in calling out the safety car. The issue wasn’t the SC, but the restart after the SC. If Massi knew the rules and actually followed them the race would have ended under SC. If Massi was that concerned about finishing under green conditions he could have red flagged the race and we would have had a standing restart with fresh tires and about 5 laps of racing. A much more satisfying and fair way to end this race than literally breaching regulations for one lap. Mercedes didn’t put because under those same regulations, had they done so they would have lost position and finish the race under safety car wherever they came out. They planned their strategy according to the rules and regulations of the sport. Merc made the right call. It only turned out to be the wrong one because those regulations were not followed. They absolutely have a case here and anybody should be able to recognize that.

      • This comment is the thing that bugs me the most about this whole situation and it’s been so many people’s attitude in the comments. Just because you don’t like it or because you disagree, does not make something wrong. Literally no rule was broken. Sure maybe the rules should be written so that there is no room for interpretation, but as the rules are written, they weren’t broken. Read the report from the stewards hearing for clarity. Honestly I don’t think Masi was trying to favor anyone but the fans thinking that giving them a finish under green conditions would be best.

        • Kostas Oreopoulos says:

          There is no room for interpretation.

          The rules clearly say. The race direction has full overriding authority in USING the safety car. He cannot override rules. There is no rule that says that.
          He can decide when the car goes in and out.

          He cannot order the SC to crash onto a car, stop in the middle of the circuit etc…
          All actions of the safety car are described by the rules.

          You will not see any line in the rules that says the racing director can override the RULES.

          What happened was a clear cut coup. A robbery in Abu Dhabi. That is the end of story

          If they were interested in a racing finale and not giving away the title, a red flag 5 laps before the end, instead of SC with 5 laps to race would give them the show they wanted.

          But they did not want a show. They wanted a WHITE World Champion.

    • Nigel Stronge says:

      Hardly- it would have been accepted by all as Max hadn’t really been challenging for the lead after lap 1.

  • For the future of the sport. They should. This thing shouldn’t happen again regardless of which team or who is in the championship. It is for the betterment of the sport IMO. Something needs to change.

  • Winston Longtrotter says:

    It’s clear that F1 is ruled by pure excitement or suspense. They had the best year yet and I am sure everyone will get their bonus. Next year, a record number of people will watch F1 and profits will soar.

    We should all accept (not be pleased with) that in all sports the referee or organizing body has a huge impact on the result. And where people had this influence, unfortunately they also can make mistakes. The sport has to continuously improve to ensure the quality gets to a higher level. In this case it looks like the overseeing body choose to make things more exciting, basically deciding who would win the world championship.

    But to be honest, I would not like to be in the referees shoes. Be it in this last race in F1 or in the champions league final. However, there is a difference between F1 and soccer.
    There have been many sports where the entire organization had to look at how the could improve, because of what happend was too controversial. It is now time for the FIA to do the same.

    My suggestions for 2022:
    – a full-time professional race operational staff incl. stewards and ground staff and salvage crew
    – no “team to operations”-audio to be aired live during or after the race
    – clear rules of engagement on track and a full ops staff and drivers evaluations on the way these were kept each race
    – a precedent based (automated) system to compare race incidents just for the sake of consistency

    Any advice on implementing these necessary steps will be given gladly.

  • It’s just a shame we are having this discussion. The rules need to be clearer so that it does not matter who is the race director and so that it does not matter if it is race 1/10 or 22 and if it is lap 1/20 or the final lap.

    Right now, the race director has too much room to play with, which was used all season long, in favour of both drivers sometimes.

    There will always be an asterix to this championship, but imo, over the entire season, both drivers deserved the championship, but Max a little bit more. If it weren’t for the faulting tyre at Baku (Max would have finished first probably and Lewis 3rd, so 10 points advantage Max) or the Bottas collision in Hungary (Max would have at least finished third, I hope we can all agree on this, which would have handed Max 11 additional points), Max would have won the championship with a P2 finish in Abu Dhabi as well.

    The collisions in Silverstone and Monza were at least punished and the other driver could have done more to avoid the collision, so imo cancel each other out.

    Additionally, Merc had the better car, so it is only right they won the constructors and I think Max deserved the drivers a little bit more this season. I agree the finish was way too chaotic and the rules are not consistent, but the overall season result is the right one if you ask me. I hope this will limit the size of the asterix for Max and this otherwise awesome season.

  • disqus_hGbk8mb3Ac says:

    Absolutely. While a driver might feel aggrieved if they were to lose on the last lap after leading the whole way in a winner takes all race, had it happened via a tyre failure for Lewis or via being caught on his old hards as I expected to happen when RB decided to pit under the VSC, that would be in the course of things and Max would have deserved the title.

    That was not what we saw and Max delivered his worst race of the season bar Saudi and Brazil. He was not catching when he should have caught Lewis easily before the SC even came out. Meanwhile Lewis delivered a champion’s drive (exactly what I wasn’t expecting before the race began) and he is the one leaving Abu Dhabi empty handed. All lapped cars should have overtaken or none, but instead Masi invented a rule that was 99.99999999% likely to hand the title to Max. Masi even said that lapped cars weren’t to overtake before being sat on by RB again, and while I thought that the correct thing to do would be to red flag given the number of laps remaining if his concern was that the season end with racing and not an SC, at least his original course of action would have been within the rules.

    Checo deserved the title more than Max yesterday – a superb display of clean, wheel to wheel racing from him and Lewis. I just wish one or more of the drivers told to unlap themselves had refused so as to show this up for the charade that it was.

    Max may not have asked for this yesterday and in that sense it is not his fault, but I do not think it would be wrong to strip the title when he has also played dirty. The more he felt that title slipping from his 33 point lead, the worse he got. He told us that his clean licence spoke for itself and proceeded to rack up 7 points in about 2 months. If Brazil set a dangerous precedent for Max’s future driving then this… I don’t have the words.

    People say Stirling Moss should have won but at least he was fairly defeated. Max has let himself down at the tail end of this season the word undeserved will always be associated with someone for whom the title was only a matter of time.

    • All lapped cars should’ve and could’ve unlapped 1 lap earlier.

      The real tragedy would’ve been if that oversight had decided the championship.

      Instead they went into damage control mode and let 5 lapped cars by even though that wasn’t the ideal way to do it..

  • Not only is the sport and the result tainted, it is extremely disgusting seeing all the “fans” defending this blatant display of corruption from F1 officials.
    Shame on you WTF1 for not calling it out properly, clean and simple. Shame on you. But so much more shame on the “fans”.

  • Vladimir Stoilov says:

    Masi gifted Verstappen with the title, such a shame. Mercedes should fight for this. The title was decided clearly not on the track and Hamilton was ripped of the title.

  • FIA should seriously re-think about the safety car rules.

    1. The laps that go under safety car should be nullified and same number of additional laps should be provided. Why should we consider a lap to be racing lap when racing is not allowed?

    2. The leading drivers should give back the advantage when the safety car was deployed. This can be done by adding the advantage to the final time of the driver. For example, 10 seconds had to be removed from Hamilton’s total racing time which would give him back his original position. What we saw in the final lap at Abudhabi was not racing, it was just a biased coin toss which was more aligned towards Max’s side.

    3. Pitting during safety car should be allowed only with a time penalty. For example, if average pit stop time for tyre change is 20 seconds, pitting during safety car should add a penalty of 20+ seconds (may be 25 seconds) to the racing time of the driver.

  • They should’ve red flagged it or should have let the lapped cars pass when the VSC was deployed and only overtake the cars in the other 2 sectors. If the frickin gods of racing wanted this to happen, then it happened. People don’t seem to want to accept that the incident, although miraculously appeared, was a fair chance for Red Bull to take another shot at it. I’m extremely happy that Max got the title, but also it should have been handled better. Max would have won either way anyway.

  • 1. The result was clearly manipulated because the FREAKING RULES WERE NOT FOLLOWED!
    2. Masi is clearly not appropriate for the role he has.
    3. The rules are completely useless. The proper thing to do is, when the safety car is out nobody is allowed to come out of the track and change tires. How is it allowed for cars to cheat like that while there is no racing going on? It is like saying in soccer a team can take the ball and score while the referee has stopped the game and reviewing the VAR screen! Completely ridiculous!
    4. Give the title to Lewis because he was the better driver and had the faster car! Max will get his championship the proper way in the future. He does not need handoffs!

  • In my opinion, trying to be as neutral as possible, Merc should not appeal further. It would just hurt the sport even further than what already happened and I also thinkt that this championship, this record breaking 8th drivers championship for lewis would never be accepted fully. It would always have a sour taste to it if won in court and not on track. I don’t think lewis would want that and he also didn’t seem that upset in the post race interview. And I also thinkt that there is a reason why he didn’t speak to the media about the protest yet. So I think Merc should not appeal and just be as strong as ever next year and win it fair and square. Just for the sake of the sport and the potential record breaking 8th

  • I hope Mercedes take it all the way to court, either red flag the race ,or finish it behind the safety car , but by letting the 5 lapped cars pass and nearly verstappen himself before the restart who he knew that on fresh soft tyres would breeze past Hamilton was a disgrace,red flag was best option but he obviously favoured RB, they would challenge this result horner moans non stop at anything as you will well know

  • Merc are pathetic losers… Max deserves the championship so much more especially since most decisions have been against him, also, like Nico said, Lewis should have had to give max the position back in lap 1… 1:1 equals out

    • Somehow you are missing the whole point…so next time we will tweek results as well according to some fans who thinks somebody else is deserving it? Who will decide? Fans? FIA?

  • Winston Longtrotter says:

    The race director has the discretion to do what he did. So not real case there, but I do agree that he did decide to outcome, which should be prevented at all cost. I think the whole race concept should be restructured to prevent these situations.

    Perhaps don’t unlap the cars but let blocked cars overtake during the procedure. Often much more effective and will result in a faster restart.

    NEW RACE CONCEPT
    Maybe we should retink the F1 concept as a whole. Do trial with an approach that looses cars as the race progresses. A qualifying concept where after x amount of rounds the last 5 cars are eliminated from the race. Or a knock out every 10 rounds.

    When you get down to it, only 8 cars at the most matter in the end. The rest are all jut drive in the way of the real race between the top 8 (or 5 or 3). Let’s hope next years regulations make it it more then a 2 driver championship. But back markers obstruct the real race, get rid of them. Final argument, that cars that have little to no effect on the race result 11+ are more often then not the cars that cause the incidents that create the (V)SC and unwillingly have a huge impact on the outcome. Like this weekend where a “battle” between 2 extras effectively changed the WC outcome. Get them off track in the last 15 laps. That would be my suggestion for a new concept. Curious on your feedback guys.

  • F1A should make one massive change this year and award a shared champions award to Lewis and Max.. This to me seems the most decent way to deal with a massive injustice to Lewis. After this is sorted F1A should sort out all the wrong processes of stewarding of future racing so they do not end up becoming a laughing stock internationally.

  • It is no longer the pinnacle of motorsport. It’s now just a stage managed sport like WWE. A joke of a sport that is now owned by Americans and it’s now 100% all about the show.

  • It was a race that will be discussed for many years.

    Max won. Lewis lost.
    But the root cause. No one wanted Michael Schumacher’s 7 titles championship to be beaten by a black man. I said it.

    Max is 24 years old now. He is well on his way to reach 8 titles.

  • no mercedes is a ffool they should not its max world champion coz it is a rule that the lapped cars should pass on safety car period

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