Mercedes ‘almost guaranteed’ legal victory had they appealed F1 title result, Toto Wolff claims

Mercedes would have been “almost guaranteed” a legal victory had their appeal of the controversial Formula One title result taken place in a regular courtroom, team boss Toto Wolff has claimed.

Mercedes formally withdrew their appeal of the highly-contentious Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Thursday after Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to the world championship on the final lap of the season last weekend.

The team had launched two protests of how the closing stages of the race were allowed to unfold by race director Michael Masi, which were thrown out by stewards, before they lodged their intention to appeal that decision.

Wolff and Mercedes had until Thursday to decide whether they would take their protest to the International Court of Appeal [ICA] but eventually stood down following discussions with the FIA.

But Wolff has insisted that even though Mercedes have dropped their appeal, the team have not accepted the result of the race which denied Hamilton a record-breaking eighth world title.


“We believe we had a very strong case and if you look at it from the legal side, if it would have been judged in a regular court, it was almost guaranteed that we would have won,” Wolff said when asked how close Mercedes were to lodging a further appeal.

“The problem with the ICA is the way it’s structured. The FIA can’t really mark their own homework and there is a difference between being right and obtaining justice.

“So there is there is a lesson to be learned. How can we ensure that, going forward, in situations like that the right decisions are being taken?

“But neither [did we] want to win a world championship in the courtroom.”

Wolff and Hamilton were not present at the FIA’s prizegiving gala in Paris on Thursday as the fallout from Sunday’s title decider continued.

Wolff was critical of Masi’s decision to allow some but not all the cars at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to pass the safety car following a late crash at the Yas Marina Circuit, which allowed Verstappen to line up behind Hamilton after having pitted for a fresh set of soft tyres.

Mercedes had maintained silence in the days after the controversy but Wolff remains insistent that Hamilton was “robbed” of the title and is not prepared to discuss the issue further with Masi.

“I am not interested in having a conversation with Michael Masi,” Wolff said.

“The decisions that have been taken in the last four minutes of this race have dropped Lewis Hamilton from a deserved world championship. His driving, particularly in the last four races, was faultless. He had a commanding lead on Sunday in Abu Dhabi from the get-go.


“He won the start and he never gave the lead away again. Robbing him in the last lap of the race is unacceptable.

“That is why, from a personal standpoint, from a professional standpoint I cannot… my values and my sense of integrity just isn’t compatible with the decisions that have been made on Sunday.”

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