Mercedes allegations against Verstappen

Toto Wolff, the head of Mercedes motorsport, has accused Max Verstappen of engaging in a retaliatory action against Lewis Hamilton during the SQ1 session of the sprint shootout in Spielberg. Despite this, neither Verstappen nor Hamilton faced any punishment from the race stewards for impeding each other.

Hamilton had been preparing for a crucial fast lap in the closing stages of the session after his previous lap was invalidated due to track limits.

While making room for Yuki Tsunoda, Hamilton was unaware that Verstappen was behind him on his own fast lap, and this resulted in slight obstruction for the Dutch driver at the exit of the final corner.


Compromised lap

Verstappen managed to set the fastest time despite this interference but then proceeded to pull alongside Hamilton on the inside before turn 1, overtaking him briefly before easing off and gesturing towards him at the exit of turn 1. This disrupted Hamilton’s lap, causing him to finish in 18th place in SQ1. Hamilton expressed his frustration over the radio, stating that Verstappen had compromised his lap.

 “Verstappen just cut his lap short,” he complained over the radio.

The Dutchman explained the action like this: “He blocked me in the last corner, so I had to brake more and lost about three tenths. So that was not ideal and not correct, I think,” said the Red Bull driver.

He then continued because – despite setting the provisional fastest time – he wasn’t sure if the lap would be enough. “But then I ran out of space with the two cars. That was a bit of a shame,” Verstappen said.


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Toto Wolff admits mistake but points finger

Toto Wolff acknowledges that Mercedes made a mistake by not providing Hamilton with the right information to avoid Verstappen. He insists it was unintentional, as nobody wants to impede others and risk penalties. However, he criticises Verstappen’s actions, claiming that it was a deliberate move to ruin Hamilton’s lap.

“We didn’t give him the right information to get Max out of the way,” says the Austrian.

“Nobody wants to be in someone else’s way, because if you stop someone, then you get punished. So that was not the aim.”

“Turn 1 was a revenge foul. He wanted to make sure his lap was ruined,” as Wolff criticised Verstappen’s action.


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No penalty

Despite the accusations, Verstappen was not penalised, and the incident was not investigated. Neither Red Bull nor Mercedes lodged a complaint with the stewards. Wolff explains that they did not pursue the matter because it would not have affected their race outcomes. A penalty for Verstappen would not have improved Hamilton’s starting position, nor would it have helped George Russell, who faced technical issues and finished 15th.

“Who cares? In the end we looked at, does it change anything for our race or not?” laments Wolff.


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Mercedes reported the incident to the FIA without seeking an investigation. They acknowledged their own role in triggering the incident and were wary that Hamilton might have also been penalised for blocking Verstappen.

“I think they will talk about it again in the drivers’ briefing next week,” says Wolff who anticipates that the incident will be discussed again in the drivers’ briefing at Silverstone, but he does not believe it will have a significant impact on the upcoming race.

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