Verstappen to receive trophy as F1 braced for critical 48 hours

Max Verstappen will receive his Formula 1 world drivers' championship trophy in Paris on Thursday evening as the ongoing controversy surrounding the Abu Dhabi events is set for a crunch 48 hours.

Listen to this article

At the annual FIA Prize Gala event, Verstappen will be presented with the famous trophy that marks the culmination of a brilliant campaign for the Dutchman to secure his maiden title.

But while he and his Red Bull team are set for a night to remember, F1 is still reeling from the scandal that has engulfed the sport over the way the final safety car restart at the Yas Marina circuit was handled.

Mercedes remains furious that F1 race director Michael Masi elected to break from normal procedure as laid down in the rules.

His decision to shuffle selected backmarkers and restart the race earlier than the regulations dictate, in a bid to allow the one-lap showdown that helped Verstappen triumph, prompted a Mercedes protest on Sunday night.

While the FIA stewards rejected Mercedes' complaints, stating that Masi has complete authority over the use of the safety car, the matter is still up in the air after Mercedes lodged a notification of intent to appeal.

As preparations continue for the FIA Prize Gala, all eyes are on Mercedes over whether it will push on with the appeal, and even have any part in the celebrations in Paris.

It was notable that the Mercedes F1 car, which helped the team to the constructors' world championship, and its Formula E car, which helped Nyck de Vries to the electric series crown, were absent from the pre-event FIA photographs showcasing each of the major world title-winning machinery.

 

There is also no guarantee that Mercedes representatives will take any part in the Gala Awards on Thursday night, even though its drivers are mandated to attend in the rule book.

On the appeal front, Mercedes has until 7pm UK time on Thursday to decide whether or not to push on with its case against the actions of the FIA, but it clearly finds itself stuck between a rock and a hard place over what to do.

On the one hand, there is anger about the events on Sunday, which have prompted fresh questions about the way in which F1 is run and the rule book is applied.

If Mercedes does not push on with the matter, then there is a risk the events could get brushed under the carpet and forgotten about, which would set a bad precedent for the future.

However, Mercedes is equally well aware that an appeal's process, which has the scope to change the outcome of the F1 world championship, could be immensely damaging for the image of the sport.

The FIA's statement on Thursday night about opening an analysis in to the events of Sunday could, however, offer some hope for Mercedes that matters will be addressed even if the appeal is dropped.

Read Also:

But equally, the governing body's accusations that the scale of the controversy has been triggered by fans, teams and media 'misunderstanding' the situation has suggested that the FIA does not comprehend why there has been such a backlash over the events.

Since Hamilton lost the world championship in Abu Dhabi there has been radio silence from both the Briton and his Mercedes team about the situation.

There have been no media interviews and the normally very active Mercedes social media accounts have not posted since it was announced on Sunday night that it had lodged a notice of intention to appeal.

The closest fans have come to knowing the feelings within the camp is a tweet that Susie Wolff, wife of Toto, posted on Thursday morning.

In it, she made clear that Verstappen and Red Bull were deserving winners, but the manner in which the title was won left her with a "sick feeling".

She wrote: "The decision of one person within the governing body who applied a rule in a way which has never been done before in F1 single-handedly decided the F1 driver world championship. Rules are rules, they can't be changed on a whim by one individual at the end of a race."

Whatever the final call of the Mercedes appeal decision, also critical to moving forward will be the outcome of the FIA presidential election on Friday.

Being contested by Graham Stoker and Mohammed ben Sulayem, the victor is due to hold a press conference in Paris on Friday afternoon.

What is said there, and the new president's reaction to the Abu Dhabi controversy, will be critical for better understanding about how willing the new regime is to address matters and avert the damage that is being done to F1's image.

Fans, teams and media are united in their belief that lessons need to be learned and action taken to ensure that what happened in Abu Dhabi is not repeated in the future.

As Susie Wolff signed off in her tweet: "I hope by March of next year there is a governing body with sporting integrity and fairness at its core so I can fall back in love with F1."

shares
comments

Related video

Alonso set for surgery in January to remove plates from jaw

Mercedes F1 team withdraws Abu Dhabi GP appeal

Why Albon won't be "throwing around laptops" to gain a 2023 F1 edge

Why Albon won't be "throwing around laptops" to gain a 2023 F1 edge

Prime
Prime
Formula 1
Williams launch
Alex Kalinauckas

Why Albon won't be "throwing around laptops" to gain a 2023 F1 edge Why Albon won't be "throwing around laptops" to gain a 2023 F1 edge

The pioneering F1 car that preceded Lotus’s terminal decline

The pioneering F1 car that preceded Lotus’s terminal decline

Prime
Prime
Formula 1
GP Racing

Throwback: The 1987 Lotus 99T The pioneering F1 car that preceded Lotus’s terminal decline

How Tyrrell became a racing Rubik’s cube as it faded out of F1

How Tyrrell became a racing Rubik’s cube as it faded out of F1

Prime
Prime
Formula 1
GP Racing

The story of Ken Tyrrell's team How Tyrrell became a racing Rubik’s cube as it faded out of F1

Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver

Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver

Prime
Prime
Formula 1
Alex Kalinuackas

Assessing Hamilton's Mercedes stint Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver

Why new-look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era

Why new-look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era

Prime
Prime
Formula 1
Jonathan Noble

Why new-look Haas is a litmus test Why new-look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era

The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff

The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff

Prime
Prime
Formula 1
Alex Kalinauckas

Assessing Wolff's Mercedes influence The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff

The all-French F1 partnership that Ocon and Gasly hope to emulate

The all-French F1 partnership that Ocon and Gasly hope to emulate

Prime
Prime
Formula 1
GP Racing

The line-up Ocon, Gasly may emulate The all-French F1 partnership that Ocon and Gasly hope to emulate

Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022?

Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022?

Prime
Prime
Formula 1
GP Racing

Who were the fastest F1 drivers? Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022?