FIA official: Max Verstappen’s used cell phone to set pace to help Mercedes get win

Mercedes has submitted an appeal against Max Verstappen’s retirement at the Brazilian Grand Prix and lost its right to protest after Sebastian Vettel overtook the Dutchman in the final minutes of the race, and…

FIA official: Max Verstappen’s used cell phone to set pace to help Mercedes get win

Mercedes has submitted an appeal against Max Verstappen’s retirement at the Brazilian Grand Prix and lost its right to protest after Sebastian Vettel overtook the Dutchman in the final minutes of the race, and now the FIA has added DNFs to the record books.

The development means that Verstappen will walk away from the title with the title, even if he doesn’t win the next race in Abu Dhabi, as he leads the championship by seven points over his Red Bull teammate Vettel with three races remaining.

Vettel won in Brazil and hit the 500-point milestone for the first time in his career, becoming the first German driver to reach the milestone since the championship was modernized in 1950.

It’s clear now that after it was been revealed that Verstappen was using an FIA-approved device in race simulations earlier in the season, the governing body had reason to seek clarification on his intentions in Brazil. He needed to know that Vettel’s aggressive overtaking manoeuvre in the closing laps actually saved him from wrecking his car on the track.

Mercedes had claimed to have seen other teams use their strategies to try to fool officials. But the stewards considered Verstappen wasn’t afforded an automatic right to protest. It said he was not entitled to change his finish on Saturday because a caution, which had held down his pace, was removed and he was instructed to stay in his starting position.

“The condition of the appeal was that Verstappen had the right to protest but he did not, following the rules of the Circuit of the Americas,” the FIA said in a statement.

A statement from Verstappen thanked Mercedes for withdrawing its appeal. He ended the season with four victories but could only claim second place in the championship.

“So firstly thanks to the FIA for supporting me the last two years,” Verstappen wrote on Twitter. “I enjoyed every minute of it! Secondly, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my team and the fans for helping me drive a successful car in a successful season. Also to the team drivers for helping me through to the successful end. Thank you for everything. Now let’s continue to progress and deliver every day!”

Mercedes was extremely unhappy with the treatment of its young driver. When the race was completed on Sunday, team chairman Niki Lauda accused Ferrari of “rigging” the race in order to try to take the title from its rival. Ferrari, in response, claimed Mercedes had its own format in races to try to beat the others.

The FIA had confirmed on Monday that it was investigating on-track incidents involving Verstappen and other drivers.

The final race is in Abu Dhabi, with the finale at the Yas Marina circuit on Nov. 25.

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