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    Mercedes drop appeal against title-deciding win

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    Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes F1 team on Thursday withdrew their appeal against Max Verstappen’s controversial title-winning victory in Abu Dhabi following a decision by motor racing chiefs to undertake a “detailed analysis” of the race.

    Red Bull’s Verstappen sped past the British driver on the final lap on Sunday to clinch his first drivers’ title and deny his fierce rival a record eighth crown.

    The deployment of the safety car after a late crash at the Yas Marina Circuit had wiped out Hamilton’s seemingly unassailable lead.

    Race director Michael Masi then decided to withdraw the safety car for the final lap, effectively turning the world championship into a one-lap shootout.

    Verstappen had a huge advantage as he was using fresher tyres and made it count to dramatic effect.

    The furious Mercedes team had an immediate double appeal dismissed by the stewards then lodged an intention to appeal against that decision, which they were required to trigger by Thursday evening.

    But the team have now issued a lengthy statement announcing they are drawing a line under the issue.

    Mercedes said they had made the decision following “constructive dialogue” with world motor sport governing body the FIA over establishing clarity for future racing scenarios.

    “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 1,” Mercedes said in a statement.

    “We also welcome that they have invited the teams and drivers to take part.

    “The Mercedes-AMG Petronas team will actively work with this commission to build a better Formula 1 — for every team and every fan who loves this sport as much as we do. We will hold the FIA accountable for this process and we hereby withdraw our appeal.”

    Hamilton, 36, and his Dutch rival started the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix level on points, turning it into a winner-takes-all showdown and the British driver appeared to be cruising to an unprecedented eighth title before the late drama.

    Mercedes, who sealed their eighth consecutive constructors’ title, said they had initially appealed against the result in the interests of “sporting fairness”.

    The team offered congratulations to Verstappen, 24, and Red Bull, saying the F1 championship title fight had been “truly epic”.

    “Though this drivers’ championship did not end the way we hoped, we could not be prouder of our team,” the statement added.

    “Lewis, you are the greatest racer in the history of Formula 1 and you drove your heart out for every lap of this incredible season. You’re a flawless sportsman on and off the track and you delivered a faultless performance.”

    The FIA said on Wednesday that, following a proposal by outgoing president Jean Todt, “a detailed analysis and clarification exercise for the future with all relevant parties will now take place”.

    The FIA promised the report would be completed before the start of next season.

    Verstappen will receive his trophy at an FIA awards ceremony on Thursday.

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