The chequered flag might have been waved, but the championship fight isn’t over yet. Furious over the conclusion to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Mercedes have launched two protests again Max Verstappen’s actions during the Safety Car and the race classification.
The first protest by Mercedes is against Verstappen for overtaking under the Safety Car, an alleged breach of Article 48.8 of the 2021 FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.
Article 48.8 states: “With the exception of the cases listed under a) to h) below, no driver may overtake another car on the track, including the safety car, until he passes the Line (see Article 5.3) for the first time after the safety car has returned to the pits.
“The exceptions are: a) If a driver is signalled to do so from the safety car, b) Under Articles 41.1c), 48.12, 51.6 and 51.12 below, c) When entering the pits a driver may pass another car remaining on the track, including the safety car, after he has reached the first safety car line.
“d) When leaving the pits a driver may overtake, or be overtaken by, another car on the track before he reaches the second safety car line, e) When the safety car is returning to the pits it may be overtaken by cars on the track once it has reached the first safety car line.
“f) Whilst in the pit entry, pit lane or pit exit a driver may overtake another car which is also in one of these three areas, g) Any car stopping in its designated garage area whilst the safety car is using the pit lane (see Article 48.11 below) may be overtaken, h) If any car slows with an obvious problem.”
The second protest launches is against the race results because of an alleged breach Article 48.12 of the Sporting Regulations, for failing to follow the correct Safety Car procedure.
Article 48.12 states that: “If the clerk of the course considers it safe to do so, and the message “LAPPED CARS MAY NOW OVERTAKE” has been sent to all Competitors via the official messaging system, any cars that have been lapped by the leader will be required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the safety car.
“This will only apply to cars that were lapped at the time they crossed the Line at the end of the lap during which they crossed the first Safety Car line for the second time after the safety car was deployed. Having overtaken the cars on the lead lap and the safety car these cars should then proceed around the track at an appropriate speed, without overtaking, and make every effort to take up position at the back of the line of cars behind the safety car.
“Whilst they are overtaking, and in order to ensure this may be carried out safely, the cars on the lead lap must always stay on the racing line unless deviating from it is unavoidable. Unless the clerk of the course considers the presence of the safety car is still necessary, once the last lapped car has passed the leader the safety car will return to the pits at the end of the following lap.
“If the clerk of the course considers track conditions are unsuitable for overtaking the message “OVERTAKING WILL NOT BE PERMITTED” will be sent to all Competitors via the official messaging system.”