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Driving needs to be assessed, says Wolff

NEWS STORY
06/12/2021

Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff fears that a controversial Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is a portent of what's to come unless action on driving standards is taken.

His warning came at the end of a controversial race that at times almost descended into farce. Yet, while it is easy to dismiss the various incidents as "controversial", "thrilling", "entertaining" and great for viewing figures, they happened at a circuit where lap speeds average 150 mph.

Indeed, in the wake of Max Verstappen being handed a 10s time penalty for 'brake testing' his title rival, Toto Wolff fears that unless action is taken things will get out of hand.

"I don't think this is done yet," the Austrian told Sky Sports at tne end of a dramatic evening. "It's really the driving that needs to be assessed and looked at.

It's hard, very hard... maybe over the line hard," he added.

"We just want to have a clean championship," he continued. "May the best man win, and if it's Max at the end then I have peace with that, but it needs to be a fair race.

"The result at the end, winning the race, I think he deserved it," he said of his driver's third successive win. "We could have been out a few times with a broken front wing, but I don't want to now have dirty laundry in here."

Following one of several controversial incidents, the TV cameras picked up on Wolff smashing his headphones in disgust.

Asked about the 'brake test' incident, which ultimately resulted in Verstappen's second penalty of the evening, the Austrian said: "What the telemetry shows is that he is slowing down then accelerating again and then slowing down.

"But he didn't know (about the call to hand back the position), and I think the wrong sequence of messages came through there."

"It really wasn't clear," said Hamilton, when asked why he hadn't passed Verstappen when he appeared to slow. "So there's two scenarios, there's one that it wasn't clear and two where I didn't get the information.

"Then it became apparent that he was trying to let me pass which was what he, I guess, had been asked to do. But he did it before the DRS zone and so then he would just DRS back past me coming through the last corner, follow me and just DRS me into Turn 1.

"That was a tactic," he admitted, "but I think really the worst part was just the steep, heavy braking that then happened at one point. That's where we collided. That was the dangerous part."

For the seven-time world champion it was deja-vu.

"I was fighting Kimi into the last corner of the Spa chicane, and he ran me wide and I went across the chicane and had to led him back past, but overtook him straight away," he said, recalling the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix.

"I remember Charlie Whiting telling the team that it was okay. Kimi didn't finish the race but then getting a, I think it was a 10-second, or whatever it was, 20-seconds or whatever, and finishing third...

"Obviously I knew that Max had overtaken two of us by going over Turn 2 which at the beginning of the race we were told that wasn't allowed."

Check out our Sunday gallery from Jeddah, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Defiant, 12/12/2021 3:46

"I think that Lewis had an idea what Max was trying to do and that's why he held back, but I am guessing as I don't have crystal ball.
Having said that, it's not beyond the realms of reality to think that he held back because he was second guessing himself if he'd missed a yellow flag or light due to the nutty antics of that race. Staying behind would of then been the right call. Either way, we do know from the facts examined Max did infact brake check "sir whine a lot" and that is unforgivable. I think the weak penalty received for that heinous act is ridiculous. Then to add insult to injury, Max then shot off like a scalded whippet, what was the excuse for that?"

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by elsiebc, 07/12/2021 19:31

"Has Lewis ever passed somebody who missed a shift, confused another setting on the wheel, had an engine stumble? Did he, in each case, know why the car in front slowed before he executed the pass? "

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3. Posted by ZJAY, 06/12/2021 21:23

"With all due respect, I do not believe Hamilton did not know. What would a driver do when he sees a car slowing down in front of him? Instinct equal pass and go. The fact that Hamilton slowed down behind Max when he could have easily passed, is a strong indication that he knew exactly what was going on.
This being said, Hamilton was the faster man and he deserve the win no matter what; he would have overtaken Max in any case. So the result is fair in my opinion, the penalty to Max, not. One can even argue that Hamilton was at fault in the collision and should have been penalized. Still I believe with a penalty Hamilton would have won. As much as I want someone else to win the championship, Hamilton will win 2021. Max has five or more outrageous moves for one of Hamilton's at Silverstone. Stewards situation really shameful. "

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4. Posted by Roli, 06/12/2021 19:58

"I can see the strategy that Max uses at the start of every GP. He always takes the inside line, thus forcing the person on pole out wide and off the track. One of these days the driver he is pushing wont yield and there will be a god-all-mighty crash (and hopefully no deaths). He just pushes it to the limit and beyond all the time. The way he drives can only be described as mindless, he may have no fear, but what about sense? Its about time Mr Masi shows his mettle and has a quiet word with Max...."do that again and I will black-flag you""

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5. Posted by Defiant, 06/12/2021 16:24

"@Hobgoblin, I thought I was senile, I thought I remembered something like that but wasnt sure. If Im not the only one, then maybe that should be looked into.."

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6. Posted by Hobgoblin, 06/12/2021 15:45

"Whatever happened to the 'two corner' rule/clarification that came in after Spa 2008?"

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7. Posted by RPrior, 06/12/2021 15:36

""Brake Testing" a competitor deserves a Race ban at the very least.

Brake testing should be defined by G Force"

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8. Posted by RPrior, 06/12/2021 15:32

"2 Points

1. No intentional contact allowed - Stewards rule
2. Licence points must lead to Racing Ban for a number of races or in serious cases a Total ban for a Season"

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9. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 06/12/2021 14:34

"Three things for me out of this race,
Stronger race director required who tells the teams what HE wants not what they want.
Red flag restarts when not a single lap is completed should be as they lined for previous restart.
Max will never yield for a corner at any cost.
"

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10. Posted by Spindoctor, 06/12/2021 13:27

"I was as confused as Hamilton. Verstappen was driving pretty much in the centre of the track - he could easily have moved aside, then slowed-down... "

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11. Posted by Max Noble, 06/12/2021 12:57

"Measurement impacts behaviour. Thank you FIA for this behaviour. Of course Max was going to let him past at a point on the track most beneficial to himself… 100% Hamilton would have done the same in the same position."

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12. Posted by Stitch431, 06/12/2021 11:53

"Yes, especially if a driver wants to let you pass, and because of tactical reasons, your driver stays behind the driver that wants to let him pass. That Toto was the cause of it all, and that has to be addressed by the FIA as unwanted behavior."

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