Stewards throw out first Mercedes protest – Verstappen cleared

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The Abu Dhabi GP stewards have dismissed Mercedes first protest of Sunday's dramatic finale by which the Brackley squad contended that Max Verstappen had overtaken – albeit briefly – Lewis Hamilton under the safety car just before the restart of the race.

After Hamilton was defeated on the final lap by the Red Bull driver and lost the title to the Dutchman, Mercedes lodged two protests disputing the race's results and how the safety car process and the event's restart was handled.

As the field prepared to for the race to resume, Verstappen drew alongside Hamilton and briefly overtook the Mercedes driver.

The stewards acknowledged the Red Bull driver's maneuver but considered that at no point was Verstappen ahead of his rival at the end of the safety car period.

"The Stewards consider that the protest is admissible," read the latter's note. "Having considered the various statements made by the parties.

"The Stewards determine that although Car 33 did at one stage, for a very short period of time, move slightly in front of Car 44, at a time when both cars where accelerating and braking, it moved back behind Car 44 and it was not in front when the Safety Car period ended (i.e. at the line). Accordingly, the Protest is dismissed and the Protest Deposit is not refunded."

The stewards' document also noted that "Red Bull argued that Car 44 was not overtaken by Car 33, that both cars were 'on and off the throttle' and that there were “a million precedents under Safety Car where cars had pulled alongside then moved back behind the Car that was in front.”

Mercedes' second protest which has yet to be addressed by the stewards centers around Article 48.12 of the sporting code and relates to backmarkers unlap themselves.

Specifically, Mercedes believe that the race should have been restarted – as per the invoked rule - at the end of the lap after which the group of five cars was allowed to overtake the safety car, or on lap 58 which coincides with the end of the race.

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