Never before has Toto Wolff been seen so out of his mind as during the final two laps of Sunday's race in Abu Dhabi, the ones that decided one of the most apocalyptic Formula 1 seasons in history. Backed by his professional career, the highest-ranking executive within the Mercedes team was always seen as a successful person, a businessman of those who appreciates everything he touches. Precisely for this reason, the images of the Austrian attacked by nerves, sending messages to Race Direction through the radio, completely in desperation, have become in the last hours one of the most viewed sequences on social networks . Apart from 2013, his first year as a director and shareholder of Mercedes (he owns 33% of the structure), Wolff had not been forced to deal with the frustration caused by defeat. That lack of habit, combined with the apotheosis that surrounded the outcome of the World Cup in favor of Max Verstappen and Red Bull in their fight with Hamilton and Mercedes, and all this under the umbrella of the high level of tension created between the two sides, explains the tantrum of the brand of the star, who as soon as the test ended, filed two claims to defend what, in his opinion, had been an irregular way of solving the championship.
To articulate the two protests, Mercedes relied on Paul Harris QC, the lawyer who helped Manchester City to get around the sanction that UEFA imposed on him in 2020 for skipping financial fair play, and that should prevent citizens from participating in the European competitions for two years. Following the appeal presented to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the British club got rid of the ban and saw the fine received considerably reduced (from € 30 million to € 10). After the International Automobile Federation (FIA) dismissed the two protests from Mercedes in the first instance, it is most likely that this case will also have to be arbitrated by the CAS, once those responsible for the German manufacturer confirmed at the last minute of the night that they would appeal the decision.
In the first of the claims, Brackley's team argued that Verstappen had violated the ordinance of the regulation that prohibits overtaking in safety car period. Indeed, the Dutchman came to parallel Lewis Hamilton shortly before the test was relaunched in that frantic last lap. But the stewards revised the maneuver and chose not to penalize him, as the Red Bull rider immediately returned to his position, behind the Briton. The second, of a more political nature, arises from the feeling of those who believe that the F-1 has become a show, in which the show prevails above all else. Protecting itself in the regulations, Mercedes sees indefensible that the FIA only let the five cars (Norris, Alonso, Ocon, Leclerc and Vettel) unfold, which before entering that last lap were running between the leader (Hamilton) and the second (Verstappen) while others were forbidden to do so. Obviously, that decision took a lot of work out of Mad Max, who tackled the final lap glued to the rear of his rival and with a completely new set of soft tires, while giving Mercedes an alibi to plan his counterattack, first in the offices and maybe also in the courts.
“It is clear that this was done to generate the fight between Lewis and Max on TV. Whether it was fair or not is not for me to decide. Sometimes they let you unfold and sometimes they don't. It's about 50%, ”Norris said. “First they told us they weren't going to let us, and then all of a sudden, just before the last lap, they gave us permission. I was a bit surprised ”, continued the Briton. Along the same lines was Alonso. “Two laps from completion, my engineer told me that we were not going to be allowed to split. But one corner later, the safety lights went out and they said yes, to follow Norris. It was a bit disconcerting, “he added.
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