Wolff Believes Mercedes Would Have Likely Won Abu Dhabi Appeal If Judged In A ‘Regular Court’ – WTF1

Wolff Believes Mercedes Would Have Likely Won Abu Dhabi Appeal If Judged In A ‘Regular Court’

Just hours after announcing that Mercedes would not be appealing the race result from the Abu Dhabi season finale, in which their driver Lewis Hamilton lost out on an eighth world championship in very controversial circumstances, boss Toto Wolff has been talking to the press about his thoughts on the whole thing.

After taking the lead on the first lap of the race, Hamilton looked set to finish ahead of his championship rival Max Verstappen and take a record-breaking eighth drivers’ title. That was until a late crash from Nicholas Latifi in his Williams triggered a safety car and meant Verstappen could pit for fresh tyres.

With a select number of cars between both Hamilton and Verstappen being allowed to overtake to get out their way, Verstappen was able to make a last-lap move for the lead of the race and won the championship in the process.

Mercedes immediately protested this decision by the FIA after the race results, saying it was an alleged breach of Article 48.12 of the Sporting Regulations and failed to follow the correct Safety Car procedure.

This protest, as well as another about overtaking under the safety car, were both thrown out by the FIA. It was after this dismissal that the Mercedes team lodged their intent to appeal the decision.

After a few days of silence from the Mercedes team, who also won their eighth constructors’ championship over the weekend, Toto Wolff has finally spoken out.

When asked by The Race on how close Mercedes came to actually submitting an appeal, Wolff said they “believed we had a very strong case and if you look at it from the legal side, if it would have been judged in a regular court, it was almost guaranteed that we would have won.

“The problem with the ICA (FIA’s International Court of Appeal) is the way it’s structured. The FIA can’t really mark their own homework, and there is a difference between being right and obtaining justice.

“So there is a lesson to be learned: how can we ensure that going forward, in situations like that, the right decisions are being taken?”

Wolff also added that Mercedes “cannot continue in a sport that is meant to be sport followed by entertainment and not the other way around.” Ooft.

Both Hamilton and Wolff will not be present at the FIA Prize Giving Ceremony this evening.

Were Mercedes right to withdraw their appeal? Let us know in the comments below. 

22 thoughts on “Wolff Believes Mercedes Would Have Likely Won Abu Dhabi Appeal If Judged In A ‘Regular Court’

  • G and F Emmen says:

    I think it’s way below conventional social standards, to NOT show up to this Gala.
    Max was there every year that Lewis won. Every losing team has always cheered him/them on, even when they lost. That they can’t return the favor, even when they disagree with how things went, shows how emotionally classless they are.
    They may be hurt, but so were all losers in previous years. They all put on a smile, and politely celebrated the winner.
    I am so deeply ashamed of Lewis’ and Toto’s behavior. I don’t ever want to see either of them in f1 again. Even if they were RIGHT about the mess up of the race and it’s conclusion, you don’t throw a toddler tantrum and forget your manners while you could just as easily choose to show some class.
    Sometimes style is all you have left.
    Or, in this case…

    • I cannot believe Lewis won’t show up. He is a very classy individual. If he doesn’t there has to be a serious reason. Toto, on the other hand, is a petulant child.

        • From what Katy said on the pod today none of the Merc teams showed for the ceremony. I’m sure this was Toto thinking he is punishing the FIA when all he did was punish his hard working employees.

          I like Hamilton but if Toto got run over in the paddock I wouldn’t shed a tear.

        • WTF1 podcast is stating he will not show up. That puts a dark cloud over Hamilton in my mind. I hope he is just following orders from his boss. He should go and tell Toto to grow up.

          Mercedes is protesting all FIA now. So the employees of Formula E are being punished. Toto is a real piece of work.

          Funny listening to how biased Katy is.

    • “I don’t ever want to see either of them in F1 again”. Don’t you think that you are also throwing the so called”toddler tantrum and forget(ting’)your manners” when you could just as easily choose to show some class?

      • G and F Emmen says:

        I think I’ve shown class, and this is purely my opinion, and personal preference. I’m not calling them names, I’m not cussing anyone out, and I’m not excluding them from this Gala they ARE supposed to attend. Obligated actually.
        So that does rubb me the wrong way. And, I was discussing Toto and Lewis’ behavior, not mine. Yes, I am a keyboard warrior. Openly admitted. I’m also an intelligent human being who has seen the smear campaign Mercedes has activated all year against red bull and specifically max. That lost them my respect for them. Red Bull is not innocent in this either, but it was Mercedes who 1. started it, and 2. kept it going with a vengeance.
        So yes, they have lost my respect, and I’d prefer to not see them again in f1.

    • Tarush Agrawal says:

      I mean to be honest I think your perspective is quite narrow here. Consider the fact that this decision is one set without precedent, regardless of whether you think it was the best decision or not, as in no other race has had only half the cars overtake under a safety car. Yes, it may seem petulant, but when a director does something unexpected directly destroying your hope of a championship i can understand trying to send a message through the Gala. When you talk about previous years, I can’t remember another decision like this, without precedent, deciding a championship so I think it is unfair to compare such situations (if there are please forgive I’ve only been watching for 5-6 years). It’s not like Mercedes and Hamilton outright refused to accept Max as champion, they did congratulate them and Verstappen himself. You can claim that was a face saving manouvre, but pretty much every congratulation from a losing team will sound that way so it rings hollow.

      • The championship was decided when Latifi went into the wall man. But the FIA should’ve made the decision a lap before, they had 5 (FIVE) laps to think about it.

        The whole season, the lapped cars unlapped themselves every time a safety car was deployed. Alonso and Vettel said 2 3 laps before that they didn’t understand why they weren’t unlapping themselves.

        • Tarush Agrawal says:

          I mean they can’t unlap cars before the damage is cleared so they didn’t have 5 laps. and Al and vettel said that literally the lap before people did start unlapping which means even if they listened then there wouldn’t have been enough time to unlap everyone and follow the same rules. Again, I’m not really arguing over the decision, Masi decided and we aren’t lawyers to say he was wrong but I’m saying the decision had no precedent (half the cars only unlapping) so I can understand why this is more frustrating than other title deciding decisions.

  • I would love for legal scholars to officially chime in vs us keyboard experts. Funny how Toto cherry picks just 48.12 and doesn’t include 48.13.

    • The problem with that logic is that 48.13 isn’t necessarily intended to supercede 48.12. It doesn’t say it supercedes it, nor does 48.13 indicate that its purpose is to do anything other than describe how the safety car and the cars behind it should conduct themselves once all the provisions of 48.12 have been implemented. It’s the same problem with the Stewards invoking 15.3 as superceding 48.12 or 48.13 even though 15.3 is very clearly written with the intent of explaining the relationship between the race director and the clerk of the course while nowhere stating it supercedes other sections. I understand why some people choose to interpret these sections the way they do, because it justifies the race director doing what he did in Abu Dhabi, but taken to its logical conclusion that interpretation means there are no rules and the race director can do anything with the safety car any time they want, which is obviously not what the regulations intend. We can lay the blame at the feet of the FIA for leaving some ambiguity here, and they have already indicated they intend to clear that up before the start of the 2022 season, but as a racing fan do you actually want there to be no procedures, no regulations, just “race director can do whatever so long as it’s a good show”? Even if you’re not a Mercedes fan I hope that gives you pause.

      • Obviously I disagree fully. In what other legal document does a separate section, that isn’t a subsection, have to say it supersedes the previous section? I cannot think of any. That is why there are subsections to regulations.

        Your idea of what is logical doesn’t hold water for others. What stands in a court of law is what the document says. Take someone who doesn’t know what racing is and have them read the document and interpret the meaning. That is what counts.

        In the US the Supreme Court makes final decisions on interpreting the US Constitution. Since it’s signing people have been debating simple lines to carve out meaning for what they want instead of what it says. I don’t believe that is how legal documents work. Clearly others think differently.

        I wish they took this all the way that way there would be an answer. Unless a legal scholar dissects the regulation I stand by the written word of it.

        The director can do anything he wants with the safety car. The logical conclusion to me is this was written to allow for fluid situations. Every situation cannot be covered in the rules. It’s to keep safety a priority and to keep the race a race and not a rule book laden boring event. He isn’t supposed to abuse that authority however. What that means is also up to interpretation.

        I don’t cheer for anyone. If you are invested in a team or driver then you cannot look at the decision with an unbiased view.

        I believe Toto and Horner pressured him before the race and it clouded his thinking of how to proceed with dwindling time and billions of dollars of future revenue at stake if it were to end in a slow roll over the finish line behind a safety car. Neither Toto nor Horner wanted it that way either. Therefore I think he made the correct call.

        There is never going to be an answer for this. However if Lewis doesn’t show up tonight I will be very disappointed because is public persona is one I admire and that is just the exact opposite of it.

        • How did rushing through/skipping over parts of the procedures described in 14.12 or 14.13 keep safety a priority?

          What made the situation fluid other than the impending end of the race? If anything, it was the mad rush to restart the race that made everything fluid, not the other way around.

          You seem to be saying that entertainment should trump the procedures, which I really do think is a problem. How are competitors supposed to plan their approach to a race (including, relevantly, the contingency plans for a safety car) if they can’t be sure how the race will be conducted? Why even have 14.12 if you don’t intend to follow it? Even Red Bull would (and have) argue that the inconsistent application of race direction and stewarding throughout the season has been a massive problem. They were expressly displeased with everything that happened up to the final lap, and rightly so.

          To suggest that Formula 1 shouldn’t be governed by rules kind of overlooks the meaning of the word “formula” in the name of the sport.

          • Why was there a mad rush to restart? Is there anything in the regs that state the safety car cannot slow to a crawl or stop? I think Masi had full control over the car. You don’t. That bridge will never be crossed.

            Entertainment doesn’t trump procedures and it didn’t this time. Procedures were used to keep the entertainment in value and Toto/Horner pre race wishes. Opinions vary.

          • Christopher Reinhardt says:

            The issue was one of the closest battles for the championship, coming down to watching a safety car circling the track. What a lame way to end a season. Easy to be a Monday Quarterback, but what should have happen would have been a red flag. Stop the race, clean the track up, let everybody have a chance to get tires, clear the track of lappers, let them loose for 3 or so laps… They weren’t prepared for it, or they didn’t want to see another frickin Hamilton, Merc championship… It’s boring to watch the same driver, same team win year after year… Wouldn’t be surprised if Merc drops out, meh, makes room for another team…

  • Actually, yes, I think they would have won. BUT, because others had to suffer too (the 3 cars that didn’t unlap themselves), if I was redbull I would have pushed to cancel the whole race and the championship would have ended in Saudi, meaning Max would have still won.

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