Mercedes has withdrawn its protest against Max Verstappen for his defence of second place during the closing stages of the Japanese Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton insisted he did not support the decision to complain in the first place.
The Dutchman came under pressure from Hamilton late in the race when the Mercedes driver attempted a pass down the inside of the chicane on the penultimate lap. With Verstappen moving across, Hamilton switched back to the outside but would out-brake himself and take to the escape road.
With Hamilton complaining over the team radio at the time that Verstappen moved under braking – a criticism levelled at the youngster this year already -, Mercedes subsequently launched a protest. With both drivers haing already left the venue, it was confirmed the hearing would not be heard until the next round, the US Grand Prix.
However, Mercedes has now withdrawn the protest just an hour after it was officially lodged in the 'interests of establishing a final official result once it became apparent that the hearing cannot be concluded today”.
The withdrawal notice came just mintes after Hamilton took to Twitter
to initially hit out at the suggestion he and Mercedes were behind the protest, writing:
“There is no protest from either myself or MercedesAMGF1. One idiot said we have but it's not true. Max drove well, end of. We move on.”
However, when it was pointed out to him that Mercedes had indeed instigated the complaint, Hamilton deleted the earlier tweet and clarified that he personally did not condone the move and would rather see the current result stand.
Due to the timing of Mercedes' withdrawal, it is unlikely Hamilton's words would have been an influence to the team's subsequent actions.
The Japanese Grand Prix results are now confirmed with Hamilton third, meaning he trails Nico Rosberg by 33 points in the overall standings with four races remaining.
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