Verstappen says Mercedes F1 protest ‘sums up season’ 

Max Verstappen says Mercedes’ decision to protest the result of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix “sums up” the 2021 Formula 1 season. 
Race winner and World Champion Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium.
Race winner and World Champion Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing…

Mercedes have launched two protests following a controversial end to the title-deciding Abu Dhabi finale after a late safety car restart enabled Verstappen to pass Lewis Hamilton on the last lap and claim his maiden world title. 

Race direction initially said that lapped cars could not overtake the leaders but reversed the decision, putting Verstappen - on fresh soft tyres - right behind Hamilton heading into a final lap sprint to the flag. 

The second protest relates to Verstappen allegedly overtaking Hamilton under the safety car before the race restarted. 

Asked for his reaction to Mercedes’ protests, Verstappen replied: "Not much really to say about that. 

"I think it also sums up a little bit this season.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said his side was “disappointed” by the protest but added it “trusts in the FIA”. 

Verstappen believes the correct protocols were followed by race director Michael Masi. 

“Everything was clear, so then why would you run another lap behind the safety car?,” he explained. 

“Whenever everything is it’s clear that you have to release the track, so I think that’s a fair point from race direction. 

“Of course now it works for me, but it can also work against me. I’m aware of that.” 

Verstappen ultimately won the race and world championship with a daring late lunge on Hamilton heading into the Turn 5 hairpin. 

Explaining his thinking ahead of the restart, Verstappen said: “Of course you try to react to what he is doing, so I tried to be not too far away. 

"I could see he was struggling quite a bit for the hard tyres to warm up and I had the grip, so I could stay relatively close. And of course on the soft tyres, that first lap you could clearly see I had more grip. 

“But then you still have after Turn 5 two very long straights where you have a chance to come back. It was all pretty close between us.”

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