Red Bull chief thanks Mercedes for ‘grand gesture’ in wake of F1 finale

Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has praised Mercedes for their “grand gesture” in withdrawing their appeal against the dramatic outcome of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen passed Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the season-deciding race after FIA race director Michael Masi’s controversial implementation of the rules around the safety car.

Mercedes immediately lodged two protests after the race but both were dismissed by the FIA. Mercedes reacted to that by submitting a notice to appeal the decision but subsequently withdrew it prior to last Thursday’s deadline, despite team principal Toto Wolff believing they were “almost guaranteed” to win a legal case.

Marko, who is also the head of Red Bull’s driver development programme, admitted he understood why Mercedes had been left so aggrieved and praised their sportsmanship in eventually deciding to withdraw the appeal.

“I can only say that this was a grand gesture by Mercedes,” the 78-year-old told Italian outlet La Gazzetta dello Sport. “Hamilton has definitely been unlucky, but so were we at Silverstone, in Budapest and in Baku. This is how races can go, but I understand the disappointment.”


Masi has faced repeated calls for his resignation in wake of the season finale and Marko admitted the FIA’s new president would need to offer clearer support to the beleaguered race director.

“The new FIA president will have to come up with a new system that will help Masi, because he can’t do it alone,” Marko added. “At the moment there is too much pressure on his shoulders. I think, for example, that team managers and team bosses should no longer be able to speak to Masi through a direct line during a race.

“In addition, the rules need to be simplified. Too many decisions have been made that have displeased either us or Mercedes. There needs to be more uniformity in the judgements.”

Wolff was adamant that he has no interest in speaking to Masi and that the race director was responsible for “robbing” Hamilton of a record-breaking eighth world title.

“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.”

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