The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix stewards have rejected the first element of Mercedes’ protest against the race outcome.
While a decision on Mercedes’ allegation that correct procedure over unlapped cars at the safety car restart wasn’t followed is still awaited, its suggestion Max Verstappen had overtaken Lewis Hamilton under the safety car has been dismissed.
The stewards’ report acknowledged that Verstappen had edged ahead slightly as he and Hamilton prepared for the restart and the one-lap dash to the finish.
But they said the fact he had immediately dropped back meant no punishment was necessary.
“The stewards determine that although car 33 [Verstappen] did at one stage, for a very short period of time, move slightly in front of car 44 [Hamilton], at a time when both cars were accelerating and braking, it moved back behind car 44 and it was not in front when the safety car period ended (i.e. at the line).
“Accordingly, the protest is dismissed and the protest deposit is not refunded.”
Verstappen then overtook Hamilton on the one lap of racing after the restart to win the grand prix and the world championship.
Hamilton had been comfortably ahead until the late safety car, triggered by Nicholas Latifi crashing his Williams.