CONFUSION OVER MERC PROTEST
Appeal over Verstappen’s defending dropped as Hamilton hits out
Mercedes planned to protest against Max Verstappen’s overly defensive driving in the Japanese Grand Prix, but later changed its mind with Lewis Hamilton telling the team “it is not what we do”.
In a bizarre 90-minute period after the race concluded, Mercedes initially announced they would protest the result because of the way Red Bull racer Verstappen appeared to move in the braking zone for the final chicane when defending second place from Hamilton.
It then emerged that with both Hamilton and Verstappen having already left the circuit, the appeal would not be heard until the United States GP in two weeks leaving the race result provisional.
However, there was then a U-turn from the German manufacturer with Hamilton appearing to play a part in the decision.
Hamilton tweeted: “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 !”
It had been a difficult weekend both on and off track for Hamilton with the Brit being continually outpaced by championship leader Nico Rosberg – the German extended his advantage to 33 points over Hamilton – and he caused a stir by Snapchatting during the drivers’ press conference on Thursday.
In response to critical media coverage of the incident, Hamilton decided to pull out of group media briefings.
Despite the incidents, team-mate Rosberg said Hamilton is still focused.
“I can tell you behind the scenes he is as focused as ever, especially after a setback like Malaysia,” he said.
“He was working the longest hours I’ve seen him work with the engineers in many, many months trying to find those little bits of lap time, so I’ve seen him working extremely well and focused.”
As to whether he took any encouragement from what may be perceived from the outside as self-destruction, Rosberg added: “I haven’t seen any self-destruction.
“The Lewis I saw was massively motivated and focused, and anyway it’s about me getting the best out of myself, and not focusing on what Lewis’ state of mind is.”