Red Bull driver, Max Verstappen has emerged 2021 Formula 1 champion, beating rival, Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes to the trophy at the Abu Dhabi GP on Sunday.
His victory was confirmed after stewards rejected both of Mercedes’ protests over the dramatic late stages of the race.
The drama is not over, however, as Mercedes have lodged their intention to appeal the verdicts, which were released long after an extraordinary and controversial race finale.
On Sunday night at least, Red Bull and Verstappen were celebrating his maiden F1 title.
“It’s disappointing we had to go through that,” Red Bull boss Christian Horner told Sky Sports News.
“It’s been an amazing year, I’m proud of Max and the whole team. He’s the world champion and the deserving world champion.”
“Relieved,” said Verstappen. “It’s been a very stressful day.”
Mercedes lodged two official protests following an incredible title decider that ended with Verstappen passing Hamilton on the very last lap – one regarding the restart procedure from F1 race director Michael Masi and another alleging that Verstappen overtook Hamilton under the Safety Car.
The team were particularly infuriated by the fact five of the lapped cars that initially separated Hamilton and Verstappen under the Safety Car were allowed to un-lap themselves before the race soon restarted again for the final lap.
The stewards deliberated for over three hours before dismissing both protests.
Soon after, Mercedes lodged their intention to appeal and they now have 96 hours to launch an official appeal, Sky Sports reported.
Coincidentally, that timeframe takes them up to Thursday night when Verstappen is due to be crowned champion at the FIA Awards Ceremony