Mercedes will appeal protests of officiating calls that helped Max Verstappen win F1 title

Mercedes appeals protests
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Mercedes lodged notice of intending to file appeals in the circumstances that decided the F1 championship after having two protests dismissed over Lewis Hamilton’s loss to Max Verstappen on the final lap of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.

Verstappen overtook Hamilton on Lap 58 in thrilling style after a crash involving Nicholas Latifi brought out the safety car with just a few laps left, and confusion surrounded the restart.

One protest was regarding Verstappen’s positioning on the restart, and the other concerned the safety car restart procedure. After both protests were denied by FIA stewards, Mercedes filed for reconsideration to the International Court of Appeal, turning in the paperwork as Hamilton left Yas Marina Circuit without commenting.

“Not much really to say about that. I think it also sums up a little bit the season,” Verstappen said hours earlier as the FIA heard Mercedes’ two protests.

Before Latifi’s crash, Hamilton was coasting to world title No. 8.

There had already been one virtual safety car deployed earlier in the race for a smaller crash, but this time the real one came out with little time left to remove Latifi’s car and clear debris off the track.

Verstappen’s Red Bull team decided to pit him to switch to new tires while Mercedes stayed out to keep track position. But it ultimately left Hamilton at Verstappen’s mercy on far quicker, fresh tires than Hamilton’s fading, slower ones. They were supposed to take him over the line, but in the end, they couldn’t hold off Verstappen.

Initially, the decision was taken not to let lapped cars overtake the safety car, which would have meant several drivers would have been in Verstappen’s way at the restart and made it much more difficult to reach Hamilton over one lap.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was in radio contact with F1 race director Michael Masi at that point and said “(But) we only need one lap” to finish a race properly.

Masi then reversed the call to allow lapped cars to pass and set up that final lap of racing.

“When everything is clear you have to release the track, so that’s a fair point from the race direction,” Verstappen said after the race in agreement.

However, of the lapped drivers only Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel overtook – those between Hamilton and Verstappen – while Daniel Ricciardo, Lance Stroll and Mick Schumacher did not.

Verstappen made his pass in the fifth turn and Hamilton had one last shot. He pulled his Mercedes even with the Red Bull but couldn’t clear it. Verstappen became the first Dutch world champion and thwarted Hamilton’s bid to move one clear of Michael Schumacher as the most successful driver in F1 history.

The finish angered Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, who demanded “the last lap be reinstated.”

But Masi was firm in his reply.

“Toto, it’s called a motor race,” he said. “We want car racing.”

The other protest was for the way Verstappen drove before the race restarted. He pulled right alongside Hamilton near the end of Lap 57 and fractionally ahead on Lap 58.

The regulations say “no driver may overtake another car on the track, including the safety car, until he passes the line for the first time after the safety car has returned to the pits.”

Mercedes lodged their protests within the allotted 30-minute window after the race.

The team said it would “not make any further comment on the detail of that until the hearing has been conducted”.

Verstappen was asked to comment on the Mercedes protest.

“Not much really to say about that, it also sums up a little bit the season,” said Verstappen, who in previous races has expressed frustration at some penalties that have been given against him – including two in the last race in Saudi Arabia.

He had responded with sarcasm to the initial decision not to allow lapped cars to overtake the safety car.

“Of course, I’m not surprised,” Verstappen said with an air of resignation.

Minutes later, he was overtaking Hamilton on the way to glory.

World of Outlaws release 2023 Sprint Car Series schedule

2023 Outlaws Sprint schedule
World of Outlaws
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The 2023 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series schedule features 87 races, almost identical to the last year’s number, to be contested at 36 venues across 19 states. With cancelations for mostly weather, they closed out this year’s calendar on November 5 with 69 events in the books. Carson Macedo won a series high 11 races.

In 2022, David Gravel chased Brad Sweet into the three-race finale on the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway in one of the most hotly contested championships in Outlaws history. Sweet emerged victorious for the fourth straight year.

For the 19th consecutive season, the Outlaws Sprints will begin their season at Volusia Speedway Park for the DIRTcar Nationals from Feb. 9-11 and will return March 5-6 for another two-day show before hitting the road with a three-track swing into Pennsylvania to take on the Posse.

MORE: 2023 World of Outlaws Late Model Schedule

“Every year we continue to build the best schedule we can for drivers and fans across the country,” said World of Outlaws CEO Brian Carter is a series release. “I’m excited for the journey we’ve put together, which includes the biggest races in Sprint Car racing, our new Spring Swing through Pennsylvania, the thrill of combining the World of Outlaws and ‘Bike Week’ and so much more.”

Some tracks returning from hiatus and one brand new course include 81 Speedway in Park City, Kans. in April and again in October, Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon City, Ill. in April, Ogilvie (Minn.) Raceway in June and BAPS Motor Speedway in York Haven, Penn.

BAPS hosts its first race in more than 30 years when the track was known as Susquehanna Speedway. This midweek show will give the local Pennsylvania Posse 14 attempts to beat the traveling Outlaws.

Ogilvie Speedway is completely new to the series and makes it the 224th different venue they will have challenged.

MORE: Brad Sweet protects his place in history

Notably missing from the calendar are Vado (N.M.) Speedway Park, Cotton Bowl Speedway in Paige, Texas, Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway and the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track.

In addition to the new spring Pennsylvania Swing, the second date at Volusia Speedway will coincide with Daytona Beach’s Bike Week and bring new eyes to the sport.

Knoxville Raceway adds another multi-night show to the calendar in April, giving this track eight sanctioned events in 2023.

And of course, there are plenty of mainstays and high dollar events, such as the Memorial Day Spectacular at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway, the 35th running of the Brad Doty Classic in July and the Labor Day Spectacular at Gray’s Harbor in Elma, Wash.

Several big paydays are on the line in 2023 including the 40th annual Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio paying $175,000 to the winner, the Huset’s High Bank Nationals’ $250,000-to-win finale and the grandaddy of them all, the 62nd Knoxville Nationals with a total purse exceeding $1 million.

2023 Outlaws Sprint Schedule

Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 9-11 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)

Sunday-Monday, March 5-6 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)
Friday-Saturday, March 10-11 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, March 17 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday, March 18 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday, March 24 – Talladega Short Track (Eastaboga, AL)
Saturday, March 25 – Magnolia Motor Speedway (Columbus, MS)
Friday, March 31-Saturday, April 1 – Devil’s Bowl Speedway (Mesquite, TX)

Friday, April 7 – US-36 Raceway (Osborn, MO)
Saturday, April 8 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, April 14-15 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Friday-Saturday, April 21-22 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday, April 28 – Tri-City Speedway (Granite City, IL)
Saturday, April 29 – Tri-State Speedway (Haubstadt, IN)

Friday-Saturday, May 5-6 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, May 10 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday-Saturday, May 12-13 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Friday, May 19 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Saturday, May 20 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, May 26-27 – Atomic Speedway (Chillicothe, OH)
Monday, May 29 – Lawrenceburg Speedway (Lawrenceburg, IN)

Friday, June 2 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, June 3 – Ogilvie Raceway (Ogilvie, MN)
Friday-Saturday, June 9-10 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday-Saturday, June 16-17 – Beaver Dam Raceway (Beaver Dam, WI)
Wednesday-Saturday, June 21-24 – Huset’s Speedway (Brandon, SD)
Friday, June 30-Saturday, July 1 – Cedar Lake Speedway (New Richmond, WI)

Friday, July 7 – 34 Raceway (West Burlington, IA)
Saturday, July 8 – Wilmot Raceway (Wilmot, WI)
Tuesday, July 11 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Friday-Saturday, July 14-15 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, July 19 – BAPS Motor Speedway (York Haven, PA)
Friday-Saturday, July 21-22 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday-Sunday, July 29-30 – Weedsport Speedway (Weedsport, NY)

Friday-Saturday, Aug. 4-5 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Wednesday-Saturday, Aug. 9-12 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 17-19 – Jackson Motorplex (Jackson, MN)
Friday, Aug. 25 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, Aug. 26 – Red River Valley Speedway (West Fargo, ND)
Thursday, Aug. 31-Saturday, September 2 – Skagit Speedway (Alger, WA)

Monday, Sept. 4 – Grays Harbor Raceway (Elma, WA)
Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 7-9 – Silver Dollar Speedway (Chico, CA)
Friday, Sept. 15 – Keller Auto Speedway (Hanford, CA)
Saturday, Sept. 16 – Placerville Speedway (Placerville, CA)
Friday, Sept. 22 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Saturday, Sept. 23 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, Sept. 29-30 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 6-7 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, Oct. 13 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Saturday, Oct. 14 – Lakeside Speedway (Kansas City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, Oct. 20-21 – TBA

Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 1-4 – The Dirt Track at Charlotte (Concord, NC)