Christian Horner disagrees with Toto Wolff on reason Mercedes withdrew Abu Dhabi appeal

Max Verstappen prevails in world title shoot-out

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Christian Horner and Toto Wolff’s comments suggest a fundamental disagreement in the reasoning behind the withdrawal of Mercedes’ appeal into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Silver Arrows were angered by a decision made by FIA race director Michael Masi, which effectively allowed Max Verstappen to clinch the title from Lewis Hamilton. 

A hoard of lapped drivers lay between the two title protagonists as the safety car retreated to the pits with just one lap to go. 

But Masi committed to what he justified as ‘car racing’ by ordering them to pass through, thus enabling a bumper-to-bumper battle between Hamilton and Verstappen in a straight shootout for the championship. 

On much fresher tyres, the Dutchman took the stroke of luck handed to him by prevailing in a sensational one-lap battle, sealing his first world title in the process. 

But Mercedes were in no mood to take the result lying down, with Wolff’s anger at Masi, heard by millions over the team radio at Yas Marina, followed up with protests after the race. 

When they were snubbed, Wolff and co. pledged to appeal the decisions which, in their view, had robbed Hamilton of his eighth crown. 

Red Bull were left to sweat over the result until Thursday when an official statement was released, and Wolff came out swinging in a fashion which has become customary this season. 

Where the Austrian’s comments suggest that Mercedes withdrew their appeal because they felt the FIA could not be trusted ‘to mark their own homework’, Horner believes that Red Bull’s rivals had no grounds for a complaint in the first place. 

“We didn’t really feel that there was the ground for it,” said Horner.

“Safety cars are usual in Formula One. We have seen it throughout the season.

“Obviously the determination of the race director is always to get the race going again. That has been a clear mandate for many years.

“A lot was made of it but that’s the way it is.

“We felt many things have gone against us this but things have a habit of balancing themselves out over the course of the year.”

Wolff, meanwhile, stated: “If you look at the legal side, how it would have been judged in a regular court it is almost guaranteed that we would have won.

“But the problem with the FIA 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.”

Horner and Verstappen are two of the heavy-hitters attending Thursday evening’s FIA prize-giving gala in Paris. 

Wolff and Hamilton, however, chose to snub the ceremony altogether due to the still-gaping wounds suffered during Sunday’s dramatic finale. 

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