Mercedes “almost guaranteed” of legal win against FIA in ‘regular court’

Toto Wolff believes Mercedes was “almost guaranteed” of a legal win against the FIA had it upheld its appeal and it went to a ‘regular court’ rather than the International Court of Appeal.
Toto Wolff (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 Shareholder and Executive Director.
Toto Wolff (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 Shareholder and Executive Director.

On Thursday morning, Mercedes announced it would be withdrawing its appeal against the FIA’s decision to reject its protest over the race result of the title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to the 2021 F1 drivers’ title in controversial circumstances, with FIA race director Michael Masi at the centre of it.

Mercedes has since promised to “hold the FIA accountable” moving forward while not taking the matter further legally. 

Speaking on Thursday to the media, Wolff admitted that it was “tremendously hard” to drop the appeal.

“We believe we had a very strong case and if you look at it from a legal side if it would have been judged in a regular court it is almost guaranteed we would have won. But the problem with the ICA is the way it is structured,” Wolff said. 

“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 make sure that going forward, in situations like that, the right decisions are being taken, verdict from stewards respond to the regulations, and judgment in the courts whether it is the ICA or CAS, which is not currently part of the legislations, can be judged in a way that is fair and neutral to every participant.”

Wolff revealed that Hamilton was involved in the decision-making when deciding to initially protest and when withdrawing the appeal.

“Every step of the way it was joint decisions,” Wolff added. “We decided together with Lewis to protest to launch the appeal, and to withdraw the appeal. As you can imagine, not only for him but also for us as a team, it was terrible, to be confronted with a decision that decided the outcome of the world championship. 

“But nobody of us, neither him nor us, want to win a championship in the courtroom. But on the other side we were deeply wronged on Sunday, and it wasn’t just a case of a bad call, it was freestyle reading of the rules and it left Lewis like a sitting duck. So, as hard as it was to withdraw the appeal, or let me word it differently, it was tremendously hard for him and us as a team to withdraw the appeal because we were wronged. 

“And we deeply believe that in Formula 1, the pinnacle of motor racing, one of the most important sports in the world justice is being done. My soul and my heart cries with every bone that this should have been judged in the right way, and the legal situation would have given us right, but as I said before, the difference between being right and gaining justice, there is a difference between being right and obtaining justice.”

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