The FIA rules that governed Mercedes’ protests

fia_flagMercedes’ post Abu Dhabi GP protests have been the focus of the Formula 1 community since Sunday, and will probably continue to be, but what were they based on, and what rules did the FIA employ to govern them?

With Lewis Hamilton losing out to Max Verstappen in the 2021 F1 Drivers’ Championship, after a highly dramatic and debatable season finale, Mercedes lodged two protests in the aftermath of the race, that were both shot down by the FIA and the Stewards, thus upholding the race result and confirming Verstappen as the 2021 F1 World Champion.

So what were the protests exactly?

Protest 1:

The first protest came after the manner in which the FIA Race Director managed the Safety Car that was deployed after Nicholas Latifi crashed at Turn 14 on lap 53 of the race to remove the stricken Williams and clear the track.

Mercedes were not happy with how the Safety Car period was administered by the Race Director, and lodged their protest against the final classification of the race result.

Below is a snapshot from FIA document 55 from the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Document 55

Outcome of protest 1:

The protest was dismissed, details are in the below snapshots from FIA document 58 from the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Document 58

FIA sporting regulation on which protest 1 was based and governed

The protest against the manner of administration of the Safety Car period was based on articles 15.3, 48.12, and 48.13 of the 2021 Formula 1 Sporting regulations, below a snapshot of these articles.

Article 15.3

Article 48.12

Article 48.13

Article 48.13-Continued

Protest 2:

Mercedes claimed that Max Verstappen (car #33) overtook Lewis Hamilton (car#44) under the Safety Car period. Below a snapshot from FIA document 53 from the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Document 53

Outcome of protest 2:

The protest was dismissed, details are in the below snapshots from FIA document 57 from the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Document 57

FIA sporting regulation on which protest 2 was based and governed

The protest claiming the Max Verstappen overtook Lewis Hamilton under the Safety Car period was based on article 48.8 of the 2021 Formula 1 Sporting regulations, below a snapshot of article 48.8.

Article 48.8

Article 48.8-Continued

Third party legal opinion

Duncan Bagshaw, Partner at the law firm Howard Kennedy and expert on international arbitration and litigation, has provided the below comment on Sunday’s F1 result from a legal perspective, and the outcome of the protest from Mercedes.

“There was a challenge to the FIA last night which was resolved very quickly. The FIA, marking its own homework, perhaps unsurprisingly said that they stood by the decision of the race director Michael Masi. Mercedes do have a case and I think it is quite likely they will take it to a court of arbitration because so much turns on the outcome of these races they may feel they really have no choice.

“This decision was by the race director himself applying a rule under the regulations which is, I would say, very clear and quite explicit about what has to happen in this situation.

“Everybody wanted to see that race finish in racing conditions but the rule makes it very clear that any cars that have been lapped by the leader have to be allowed to pass the leading cars and the safety car before the race is restarted and he did not allow that to happen. It’s very important for Mercedes to give the message that racing is the most important thing to this sport and that they respect the outcome of the race on the track but they must also accept the fact that commercially this is a sport that revolves around money. They have obligations to Lewis Hamilton, their team, their sponsors and many other people, it may be not so much they want to challenge this decision, that they want this season to be decided before a committee of arbitrators but simply that they don’t have any choice.”

Conclusion

This article is merely an informative piece of writing, where we have endeavored to search for all the relative materials that have been all over the F1 media that has been covering the Mercedes/Red Bull/FIA debacle from the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

It serves as a one-stop-shop for those interested in getting more enlightened about the 2021 Formula 1 Sporting Regulations.

For more details refer to the FIA webpage here.