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Max Verstappen’s glamorous type female friend Kelly Piquet celebrates his win over Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton hit by appeal setback as it emerges Mercedes CAN’T take their claim to...

Lewis Hamilton hit by appeal setback as it emerges Mercedes CAN’T take their claim to the Court of Arbitration for Sport – meaning their only chance to overturn Abu Dhabi race result is in front of a panel appointed by the FIA
By Martin Samuel – Sport for the Daily Mail
Published: 22:31 GMT, 13 December 2021 | Updated: 08:14 GMT, 14 December 2021

Mercedes will get one shot at overturning the race result and Max Verstappen’s drivers’ championship title – and will not be able to take their claim to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
FIA rules, that all Formula One teams sign up for, give the governing body’s International Court of Appeal in Paris as the only arbiter for settling disputes, meaning Mercedes will have to convince a panel appointed by the FIA to find against the FIA.

Mercedes are yet to confirm their appeal, although the presence of a leading QC in Abu Dhabi suggests they will go ahead. They have 96 hours after the event to submit papers, meaning the case is unlikely to be heard this week. 

Max Verstappen passed Lewis Hamilton on the final lap to claim the drivers’ championship

Mercedes had two separate protests over the controversial ending rejected by the FIA 

On Sunday night, Mercedes had even discussed making an earlier race, at Spa in August, part of their case, following another controversial decision by race director Michael Masi.

On that occasion, in adverse weather conditions, Masi allowed two laps behind a safety car with no overtaking, before Verstappen was awarded 12.5 points to Lewis Hamilton’s five.
Mercedes claim that race is the reason Verstappen held an advantage on races won going into the last Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi, which negatively impacted on Hamilton’s strategy options.

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Mercedes won’t be able to take their Abu Dhabi claim to the Court of Arbitration for Sport

More likely, however, is that Mercedes will keep their focus on the moment when they believe Masi contravened the F1 rulebook in Abu Dhabi.

Their twin objections concern lapped cars, and the exit of the safety car, Mercedes insisting Masi used a crash by Williams’ Nicholas Latifi, to artificially create a one-lap head-to-head for the title between drivers who had previously been separated by 12 seconds.
Under safety-car conditions, before the race restarts lapped cars must drive around the track and rejoin at the back of the group. Masi ordered some, but not all to do this, with Mercedes believing his only intention was to put Verstappen against Hamilton head-to-head.

Mercedes believe race director Michael Masi contravened the F1 rulebook in Abu Dhabi

The team could bring up the Belgian GP where Verstappen won the race and took half points after only two laps behind a safety car – which placed his win total ahead of Hamilton overall

Had those between Verstappen and Hamilton stayed in place, as happened further back in the field, there would have been little chance of Verstappen making it through that traffic in the lap allotted. Mercedes point to a rule that says lapped cars ‘will be required’ to unlap.
Another point of contention concerns the exit of the safety car after the unlapping.
The car is due to depart at the end of the ‘following’ lap, but as there was only one lap left that would have meant the cars trailing the safety car all the way to the chequered flag.
Racing could then begin – but the race would be over, with Hamilton the winner. 

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There is some scepticism over whether Formula One will reverse the decision in Abu Dhabi

Mercedes will ask the FIA to amend the race classification because, if the rules had been adhered to, Hamilton would have won. 
They are not proposing the race be rerun or only 57 of 58 laps are taken into consideration.
Yet F1 sources remain sceptical the result will be overturned, given the enormous embarrassment for the sport, whose title presentation and ceremony would be exposed as a sham.

The rule that forbids a hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport is another blow because, rather than sitting before an entirely independent group, it means Mercedes’ challenge is unlikely to be heard by any panel outside the FIA offices in Paris.

Verstappen won the championship for the first time after a year-long battle with Hamilton

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