Lewis Hamilton gets new hope in Max Verstappen controversy as second lawyer weighs in

Lewis Hamilton gets new hope in Max Verstappen controversy as second lawyer weighs in


LEWIS HAMILTON'S hopes of acquiring his 8th F1 world title have been given fresh hope by a second lawyer. The lawyer feels that Mercedes have a legit legal challenge to Max Verstappen's win in Sunday's race in Abu Dhabi. 

Michael Masi, the FIA race director's continuous decision on the final lap saw the Dutchman win the World title and also caused outrage from the Mercedes camp.

Hamilton led for 57 laps, but Nicholas Latifi's crash gave Verstappen hope. A safety car coming out in the closing stages changed the whole dynamic of the race. 

As the safety car retreated with one lap remaining, Verstappen was suddenly dealt another miracle when the hoard of lapped cars between himself and Hamilton were asked to get out of the way, causing a shootout between the Brit and the Dutch prodigy. 

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was infuriated as Hamilton's healthy lead was suddenly wiped out, and the 24-year-old, on brand new soft-compound tyres, passed Hamilton to clinch the title in thrilling fashion. 

Mercedes made two protests following the race, the FIA rejected both. 

Mercedes' two protests read:

"Protest by Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team against Car 33, alleged breach of Article 48.8 of the 2021 FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.

"Protest by Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team against the classification established at the end of the Competition, alleged breach of Article 48.12 of the 2021 FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations."

Duncan Bagshaw, a partner at the law firm Howard Kennedy claimed that Wolff and Co have a case. Nicholas Bamber, backing Bagshaw's belief in an interview with racefans.com also agreed.

Legal case

"In response to Mercedes’ protest, they [the FIA] concluded that article 15.3 gives the race director carte blanche to control the use of the safety car and overrides the procedure for the safety car stipulated at Article 48.12," he said.

"This interpretation seems – on its face – to be inconsistent with a plain language view of the regulations.

"It also directly contradicts Michael Masi’s approach in similar circumstances at the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix where he stated ‘There is a requirement in the sporting regulations to wave all the lapped cars past’ before the safety car returns to the pit lane and the race recommences, ‘therefore the safety car period was a bit longer than what we would have normally wanted’.

"I.e. the race director cannot overrule the appropriate application of the regulations, including the full application of article 48.12. 

“Article 1.1.1 of the 2021 FIA International Sporting Code makes clear that the regulations are to be enforced ‘based on the fundamental principles of safety and sporting fairness’ [emphasis added]. Part of sporting fairness revolves around consistency of application of the rules of the sport. As such, there appears to be a good legal basis upon which Mercedes could seek to appeal."

Bamber added that the FIA could struggle to defend themselves if the matter was taken to an International Court of Appeal hearing.