Mercedes boss hopes ‘robbed’ Lewis Hamilton will continue racing
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Mercedes ‘were likely’ to win their appeal against Max Verstappen’s victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, according to ex-Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg. On Thursday, Mercedes withdrew their appeal and will ‘hold the FIA accountable’ in a probe that will acknowledge the incident and improve its rule book for the future.
Verstappen won his maiden world title on Sunday, overtaking Lewis Hamilton on the 58th and final lap in late drama at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Nicholas Lafiti’s crash in the closing stages saw a safety car enter the track, and regulations suggest it should’ve remained in place until the end of the race.
However, F1 Race Director Michael Masi allowed certain cars to unlap themselves ahead of a one-lap dash to conclude the season, which Verstappen took advantage of on new tyres.
Team Principal Toto Wolff was left reeling and had two protests rejected by stewards later in the day, but surprisingly hasn’t taken the matter further.
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Rosberg believes the Silver Arrows decided against pushing on with the case due to the impact it would have on their public image.
But the 36-year-old claims Mercedes had a great chance of winning their appeal if they hadn’t withdrawn it on Thursday.
He told Sky Sports: “They withdrew their appeal because of public opinion, you can’t go into the court.
“From what I hear they were likely to win the appeal but you can’t just take it to court, it doesn’t look good so I guess they relented in the end.”
The German has described the outcome in Abu Dhabi as ‘heartbreaking’ for Hamilton but expects him to be at the forefront of the title battle in 2022.
“It was heartbreaking for him because he was almost certain to be champion until four laps to go and then this change of procedure, suddenly he lost the world championship,” Rosberg continued.
“I do count on him being on the grid again next season, fighting for that championship that was taken away.
“Lewis did deserve to be champion, but so did Max Verstappen, he was brilliant all season.”
Rosberg considers Verstappen and Hamilton on ‘another planet’ compared to other racers in F1 and has tipped them to battle over the Drivers Championship again.
He added: “I would love Verstappen to come back next season and continue to fight it out with Hamilton.
“Of course, I’m not the guy who could say that because I disappeared after I won the world title, but I do hope that Lewis and Max will go at it again next season.
“Lewis used to be the best wheel to wheel racer, or is, but here comes Verstappen who is really taking it to Hamilton and is sometimes better than him. It’s amazing to see their skill.
“They’re on another planet and are so far ahead of the other racers.”
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