Toto Wolff angry despite ‘best ever’ Lewis Hamilton performance in Brazil

  • Mercedes on end of ‘laughable’ decisions, says team principal
  • Wolff: ‘We’ve had many punches in the face this weekend’

Toto Wolff has described Lewis Hamilton’s victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix as one of the world champion’s best performances. But the Mercedes team principal also hit out, expressing anger at how he believed his team were harshly treated by some “laughable” decisions at Interlagos and that the gloves were now off as the Formula One world championship entered its final three, decisive races.

Hamilton won from 10th on the grid in Brazil with a superb drive over a weekend during which he endured two penalties and a race in which Mercedes felt he had been let down by the stewards when they opted not to punish his title rival Max Verstappen. The Dutchman appeared to run him off the track as the two drivers fought for the lead. Hamilton nonetheless went on to win and reduce his deficit to Verstappen in the championship to 14 points.

As well as the win Hamilton drove from 20th to fifth in the sprint qualifying on Saturday, after a DRS infringement penalty sent him to the back of the grid, both were extraordinary comebacks acknowledged by Wolff. “Overall, I definitely rate that among the best-ever performances I have ever seen from him,” he said.

However the team principal was scathing at the decisions over the weekend that he deemed had been unfairly biased against Mercedes, especially the penalty for the DRS infringement which he believed was caused by damage that in previous circumstances had not justified a punishment.

“I think we’ve just had many, many punches in the face this weekend,” he said. “Decisions that could have swung either side against us or for us. It’s something that I’m just angry about and I will defend my team, my drivers to what comes. I’ve always been very diplomatic in how I discuss things, but diplomacy has ended today.”

Hamilton was attempting to pass Verstappen into turn four when the Dutchman squeezed him wide and forced him to take evasive action with both drivers going off track. The stewards classified it as acceptable, a decision that raised serious questions. In Austria early this year both Lando Norris and Sergio Pérez were given five-second penalties for squeezing opposing cars wide during attempted overtakes.

The Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, believed it was the right decision, arguing it was simply hard but fair racing. Wolff also acknowledged that but was convinced the precedents meant Verstappen should have been punished.

“That was just over the line – should have been a five-second penalty at least – and probably Max knew that,” he said. “Just brushing it under the carpet is just the tip of the iceberg. I mean, it’s laughable.”

The next round is in Qatar next weekend with Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi to follow.


Giles Richards

The GuardianTramp

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