Mercedes withdraws Max Verstappen Japanese GP F1 protest

Mercedes has withdrawn its Japanese Grand Prix protest against Max Verstappen with Lewis Hamilton telling his Formula 1 team "it is not what we do"

In a bizarre 90-minute period that followed after the Japanese Grand Prix had finished, Mercedes initially protested Red Bull driver Verstappen's defensive manoeuvre under braking into the final chicane at Suzuka on the penultimate lap.

Attempting a pass, Hamilton was forced to use the escape road through the chicane, leaving Mercedes citing Verstappen had driven "erratically and in a dangerous manner" as per Article 27.5 of the FIA Formula 1 sporting regulations.

Despite the stewards convening a hearing, they were forced to defer it to their counterparts at the United States GP as both Hamilton and Verstappen had left the circuit and were unable to provide evidence, putting the official result on hold.

It was then announced Mercedes "had notified the stewards it is withdrawing the protest", leading to the race result being declared official, with Hamilton third behind Verstappen and race-winning team-mate Nico Rosberg.

Moments before the withdrawal was declared, Hamilton sent out a tweet that read: "There is no protest from either myself or @MercedesAMGF1. One idiot said we have but it's not true. Max drove well, end of. We move on."

That was then deleted and replaced with a new message: "There is no protest from myself. Just heard the team had but I told them it is not what we do. We are champions, we move on. End of!"

A Mercedes spokesperson later stated the protest had been withdrawn "in the interests of establishing a final official result this evening once it became apparent the hearing cannot be concluded today".

Speaking about Hamilton's race, Mercedes executive director technical Paddy Lowe said: "Lewis drove one of his strongest races of the season to recover to third - and it could even have been second save for a rather controversial manoeuvre by Verstappen at the final chicane.

"He had some fantastic pace, great management of the tyres, and great management of the traffic particularly.

"He made up a huge amount of time to finish only six seconds away from Nico, having been as far as 20 seconds behind at one point in the race.

"So, congratulations to Lewis for a great recovery, although I'm sure he'll be feeling disappointed with the result overall."

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