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Wolff still haunted by Abu Dhabi

NEWS STORY
19/08/2022

Though insisting that Max Verstappen is a "deserving champion", Toto Wolff admits that a day never passes when he doesn't think about that night in Abu Dhabi.

For a sport that has witnessed more than its fair share of scandals over the years, many of which have taken it from the sports section to the front pages of the mainstream media, Abu Dhabi must surely be among the most, if not the most infamous.

Eight months later fans remain divided, and whilst the reality show theatrics of Drive to Survive might continue to bring new fans to the sport, the after effects have driven away many of the old guard.

It's not about the polarising effect of social media either, many of those fans who lost faith in Formula One after that night were not Mercedes or Lewis Hamilton fans, merely believers in fair play, rules and justice.

With Michael Masi having accepted his fate as official patsy, it is unlikely that we will ever get to know the truth behind the circumstances that led him to make a series of fateful decisions that night, decisions that, no matter what the powers that be might have us believe, have left a dark cloud over the sport.

Having seen a historic eighth title snatched from Lewis Hamilton's hands, Toto Wolff admits that a day never passes when he doesn't think about that night, though he is the first to pay tribute to Max Verstappen.

"I think about it every day," he tells Motorsport.com. "But I have my peace with Max winning the championship, because he's a deserving champion.

"How it panned out, I think I have values around fairness, and especially sporting fairness," he continues. "This is what provides my fundamental love for the sport. And then that was kicked with the feet on that particular day."

Just five days later, Mohammed ben Sulayem was elected FIA president, and at a time most were demanding answers over what had happened at the Yas Marina, the new president was threatening to punish Hamilton for 'boycotting' the official prize giving ceremony.

"At the end of the day, rules are rules," he said, somewhat ironically. "So we are going to look into the side of where the technical rules are there to be employed and was he in breach

Asked to clarify whether Hamilton might face sanctions, Ben Sulayem replied: "Forgiveness is always there, but rules are rules. And I always say, rules are not made, a human made them and they can be improved and changed by humans. So the rules are there to be improved.

"I know Lewis is really sad about what happened," he admitted. "I would say he is broken. But we have to look into if there is any breach."

As it happens no further action was taken against the seven-time champ, while the subsequent official investigation into the events of Abu Dhabi was also eventually given the 'no further action' stamp, other than to blame "human error".

On the night of his election to the presidency, when asked about Abu Dhabi, Ben Sulayem said: "We will look into the rules and make sure any situation like this that occurs in the future we will have an instant solution to it. There are so many areas we can improve."

One of those 'improvements' was the decision to have two individuals share the role of race director, a move that at various times this season appears to have created more problems than it has solved.

Nonetheless, with Michael Masi consigned to 'the outback', Wolff insists that he has faith in the new president.

"I think Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the way he's hiring and recruiting, shows for me direction," says the Mercedes boss. "Every personality has his edges. And I think the primary objective of being transparent, providing good governance and a good framework is what I see happening.

"Are there going to be bumps on the road because Mohammed's organisation needs to fall in place and everybody needs to find their roles? Yeah, for sure. But I'm happy with how's it going. They are open-minded. They're not opinionated. For me, transparent, honest and have integrity."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by kenji, 23/08/2022 1:40

"@ Superbird...Yes, but the media want to keep the issue alive especially by slavishly running every comment that Wolff makes! Wolff has sold the media a story that has conveniently left out an important chapter. If you haven't already done so, check out the pit to car to pit radio comms.between Hamilton and Shovlin. Yes, there are inconsistencies in rules interpretation but it's my belief that it is not as simple as the majority think it is and that Masi is the 'devil' incarnate, as Wolff would have you believe. Do you really think that Wolff's new habit of implying the personal, 'Mohammed' this and 'Mohammed' that would happen if he had not got his way on the dismissal of Masi? So long as Wolff keeps this alive then he can expect a response. "

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

2. Posted by Superbird70, 22/08/2022 15:22

"@kenji, I believe the decisions made by Mercedes expected the rules to be applied as they had been in previous races. The outcome may have still been the same, but the past is now behind us, so everyone should just move on."

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3. Posted by TokyoAussie, 22/08/2022 4:25

"It was a blight on the application of rules that should never happen again. As long as it is remembered as such, it will help prevent the same thing from occurring again. Not something that ever should be forgotten."

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4. Posted by kenji, 22/08/2022 1:12

"@Superbird70.... Depends. I see is as 'scapegoated'. Wolff has succesfully sold the fact that strategically Mercedes blew it. They sacrificed taking new rubber for track position, a point not emphasised by fact that Hamilton wanted to know if RB had pitted and he was told. Mercedes could've done the same."

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5. Posted by Superbird70, 20/08/2022 16:54

"The result is amatter of record. What happened was wrong. Best Toto and Mercedes put it down to a teachable moment and focus on the present."

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6. Posted by Kemawi, 20/08/2022 8:42 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 20/08/2022 8:50)

"This comment was removed by an administrator as it was judged to have broken the site's posting rules and etiquette."

Rating: Neutral (0)

7. Posted by Defiant, 19/08/2022 17:20 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 20/08/2022 8:50)

"Injustices should NEVER be forgotten. Learned from, absolutely, but a simple "Get over it", pft, I doubt many people will.

I'm pleased you pointed out that it's not just Sir social justice warrior's fans that are disillusioned by this. I think most of what happened that night was nothing short of a disgrace.
"

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8. Posted by Greg, 19/08/2022 14:49

"Get over it. Done and dusted"

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