Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff will not face FIA penalty for snubbing gala

Max Verstappen prevails in world title shoot-out

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Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff will not face punishment for failing to attend the end-of-season Formula One gala in Paris, FIA president Jean Todt has implied. The Mercedes pair went against the FIA rules by not joining world champion Max Verstappen at the ceremony and it was suggested that they could be fined. 

Mercedes remain fuming at the way the world title was decided at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last week.  

Verstappen benefitted from an unusual application of the rules after a safety car was deployed in the aftermath of Nicholas Lafiti’s crash.  

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff revealed on Thursday that neither he nor Hamilton would attend the FIA gala, which was held that evening. 

Article 6.6 states: “The drivers finishing first, second and third in the Championship must be present at the FIA Prize Giving ceremony.”

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Hamilton was supposed to attend alongside Verstappen and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.  

But now, FIA president Todt has diplomatically urged everyone involved to ‘let it go’, despite feeling ‘sorry’ that Hamilton and Wolff were not in attendance.  

“In a way I’m sorry about that, because having eight constructors’ titles is something unique. I’m sorry Lewis is not here,” Todt said. 

“But this youngster (Verstappen) did an amazing job, and that’s what we should be focusing on rather than ‘Are we going to punish Hamilton for not coming?’

“I think we should let it go. We have to rise above it.”

Mercedes submitted two protests following the controversial ending to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.  

Verstappen was effectively allowed a free run at Hamilton on fresher tyres after lapped cars were allowed to unlap themselves ahead of the final lap.  

Race director Michael Masi came in for particularly scathing criticism.  

However, the FIA quickly turned down the protests. Mercedes appealed but on Thursday withdrew, with Hamilton widely believed to have taken the stance that he did not want to win a world title in court. 

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Hamilton, who was this week knighted at Buckingham Palace, would have won a record eighth world title.  

Mercedes released a lengthy statement on Thursday morning. An excerpt read: “The reason we protested the race result on Sunday was because the Safety Car regulations were applied in a new way that affected the race result, after Lewis had been in a commanding lead and on course to win the World Championship.  

“We appealed in the interest of sporting fairness, and we have since been in a constructive dialogue with the FIA and Formula One to create clarity for the future, so that all competitors know the rules under which they are racing, and how they will be enforced.   

“Thus, we welcome the decision by the FIA to install a commission to thoroughly analyse what happened in Abu Dhabi and to improve the robustness of rules, governance and decision making in Formula One. We also welcome that they have invited the teams and drivers to take part.”

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