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FIA did not follow its "modus operandi", says Wolff

NEWS STORY
14/11/2021

Admitting "disbelief" at his driver's exclusion from the qualifying results, Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff questions why the FIA didn't follow it "modus operandi" in DRS investigation.

Speaking to reporters after the Sprint, while confirming that the rear wing on Lewis Hamilton's car had failed the test by 0.2mm, Wolff was adamant that rather than benefitting from this the car's performance would have actually been compromised.

Asked how he viewed Hamilton's suspension from the qualifying results, which was confirmed shortly after the morning's practice session, the Austrian's reply was straightforward: "Disbelief," he said, "disbelief how things went.

"With a certain respect for the stewards, it's difficult in that situation," he admitted, "as it's not an easy ruling on such a contentious topic where it is about a world championship and they need to look at the specific situation and not at the bigger picture.

"But the process from telling us, discovering we have marginally failed the test, and we're speaking 0.2 of a millimetre, to not allowing this to be fixed like the normal protocol, but rather reported to the stewards, the bullet was out of the gun and I think that put the stewards in a very difficult situation to come up with the right judgement.

"To be honest until late this afternoon we believed it was OK, because the wing was damaged, one side was OK, the middle was OK, the right side was not OK, and that actually means we had a performance disadvantage.

"We thought, in consideration of all these aspects, the FIA would say there was damage and therefore we weren't in breach of the regs. They also said there was nothing that happened with intent from our side, but we were disqualified, which honestly I couldn't believe.

"I thought that Ron Meadows (Mercedes team manager) was making a joke when I saw the WhatsApp," he admitted.

"I don't want to pick out any individuals," he insisted, "because everybody tries to do the best possible job in their role. But something went against the modus operandi this last 24-hours, which was either under pressure from other stakeholders, or just different.

"If the modus operandi is different now, you maybe need to look at others also with a more strict and severe eye," he added. "I can tell you that in the next few races we are going to look at every single bit of race tape that's going to fall off a car and ask questions.

"In a way, if there was a gentlemen's agreement, if such a thing as a gentlemen's agreement exists in Formula One, because there are no gentlemen, then now it doesn't anymore.

"So you have no leniency of fixing things on a car... if it's broken, it's broken and you can't touch it. This is how it's going to go this year.

"Strange things happen, but you have to take it on the chin and that last 60 minutes of motor racing from Valtteri and Lewis brought all the enjoyment back with all the frustrations that happened before."

Subsequently asked why he had told Hamilton "f*** them all", as he crossed the line after finishing fifth despite starting from the back of the grid, Wolff said: "I obviously didn't mean it towards any of the regulations... it is generally a mind-set we have that that sometimes when there is hardship you need to build up resilience and that is meant by saying 'f*** them all'.

"Yesterday the car was being tested, and today two hours before the race we got the information we were disqualified and that is... what can I say, in a way sad, because there's procedures in Formula One, a certain modus operandi, a protocol you have to follow.

"We had a car that wasn't in breach of the 85mm slot gap, we failed successive tests by the tiniest of margins, and in the past that would have meant 'fix it'.

"We saw it with the Red Bull wing last weekend, they have had many bargeboard bits and failures, and we were put back because the FIA has our cut drawings, the wings, we wanted to leave the wing with them so they could cut it in a thousand pieces.

"We weren't allowed to look at the wing because it was simply damaged through the qualifying session but none of these arguments counted.

"To be fair, the stewards did the job, we failed that one test, and their argument needs to be respected. This is why we decided not to appeal the decision because if the stewards decide you need to take it on the chin, it can go both ways."

Asked, feeling as strongly as he does, why Mercedes would not be appealing the decision, Wolff said: "It is the argument of losing points tomorrow and losing all points that is one consideration.

"But there is another consideration that there is a TD (technical directive) that described a test and when you fail a test, that's black and white.

"Therefore, I think the outcome wouldn't have been advantageous for us," he admitted. "I'm just saying that it shouldn't have even reached the stewards room if it was following the modus operandi of many, many years before. And that's why I don't believe we would have had particularly good cards for an appeal anyway."

Check out our Sunday gallery from Interlagos, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Stitch431, 14/11/2021 14:58

"Aha, the man who triggered the rear wing sage now is astonished that the punch is coming back to him ..."

Rating: Negative (-1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Pawsche, 14/11/2021 11:20

"Mr Wolff reckons that the infraction was a result of the wing being damaged during quali... I was under the impression that parts that were "out of spec" because of accident damage were normally allowed to be replaced/repaired penalty-free...

Perhaps not if it "improves the show"."

Rating: Positive (3)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by Mad Matt, 14/11/2021 10:14

"I think he's right that no-one can argue this was deliberate but the rules are the rules, just as they were for Aston with their fuel problem. As long as it's the same for everyone then it all seems good to me."

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4. Posted by Roli, 14/11/2021 9:14

"methinks its gonna get messy...."

Rating: Positive (3)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

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