Driving needs to be assessed, says Wolff

06/12/2021
NEWS STORY

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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Published: 06/12/2021
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