Lewis Hamilton tweets about withdrawn Mercedes complaint, sparks confusion


Lewis Hamilton claims he ordered his Mercedes team to withdraw a protest which could have seen the Briton promoted to second in Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix.

Mercedes lodged an official appeal to the FIA, the sport's governing body, in protest at Max Verstappen's driving in the closing stages of the Suzuka race.

Hamilton, who now trails Nico Rosberg by 33 points in the drivers' championship, attempted to pass the Red Bull driver at the chicane on the penultimate lap.

Hamilton with Rosberg, centre, and Verstappen, left.
Hamilton with Rosberg, centre, and Verstappen, left (AP)

Verstappen moved to his right to defend the position, with Hamilton taking to the escape route.

In a bizarre series of events three hours after the chequered flag fell, Mercedes lodged a protest of the result citing "erratic" and "dangerous" driving from Verstappen.

They also alleged that Hamilton was forced to take "evasive action".

The FIA then announced that the decision would be referred to the stewards at the next race in America, with neither Hamilton nor Verstappen still present at the track to provide evidence.

Hamilton, travelling on former driver Niki Lauda's private jet with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff from Nagoya to Vienna, then said in two confusing tweets that he called on his team to withdraw the appeal.

Hamilton  steering his car during the race at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, central Japan.
Hamilton steering his car during the race at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, central Japan (Toru Takahashi/AP)

"There is no protest from either myself or Mercedes," Hamilton tweeted from 40,000 feet, despite both the team and the FIA confirming an appeal had been put forward.

"One idiot said we have but it's not true. Max drove well, end of. We move on."

Hamilton's initial tweet was swiftly deleted, and it is unclear who the "one idiot" is that the Briton was referring to. Moments later, the FIA confirmed Mercedes had withdrawn their protest.

Here's what Hamilton tweeted minutes later:

Mercedes however, said it was the team's decision to withdraw their protest.

A successful hearing could have seen Verstappen handed an elapsed timed penalty, thus bumping Hamilton up to second place and giving him three more points in the championship.

Meanwhile, Hamilton admitted he was at fault for the horror start in Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix which now leaves the Formula One championship out of his control.

Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton finished third at the Japanese Grand Prix (Eugene Hoshiko/AP)

He recovered to finish third after he lost six places on the opening lap.

Speaking briefly at the official press conference for the top three drivers, Hamilton said: "I don't think the damp patch had really anything to do with it.

"I made a mistake, and then just working my way up from there was tricky. I did the best I could."