The result from Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix stands, with Max Verstappen remaining the 2021 Drivers’ world champion after a protest over the race result from Mercedes.
He’d led from the first turn after a better start than his title rival Verstappen, and led up to the penultimate lap – where drama would soon unfold.
A safety car period came to the end at lap 57, after an earlier crash from Nicholas Latifi, and Verstappen, boosted by nearly new tyres was able to attack Hamilton and pass him on the final lap, going on to then seal the race victory and his maiden crown.
That, though, was not the end of the story with Mercedes quickly protesting the result, taking exception with two factors in the final stages.
Mercedes alleged both that Verstappen had overtaken Hamilton under Safety Car conditions – something that was thrown out by the Stewards first – and also that the rule that states a lap should follow under the Safety Car after lapped cars had unlapped themselves was not followed, with not every lapped car unlapping themselves as well.
Indeed, the Silver Arrows were of the opinion that, under that rule, the final chaotic lap of racing should not have happened but, evidently, the Stewards have opted to stand by their original decision – as per the official F1 page and the gathered press in Abu Dhabi:
Mercedes can still further appeal, so this may not be totally over, but it certainly looks as though now that Max Verstappen is our 2021 world champion.
A season that has enthralled, shocked and left us speechless at times, it’s a shame that things had to come to this but it always seemed possible given the stakes and what had happened during the campaign, let alone the afternoon in isolation.
Of course, an appeal can still happen but that needs to happen before Thursday as the FIA Gala is due on that date, and that is when the prizes are given out and the season is rubber-stamped as official.
Time will tell what happens there, then, as the 2021 season – at least on the track – comes to an end after what has been an epic year. And it looks as though Max IS our champ.