Monday 15th November 2021
“Diplomacy has ended”
Hamilton’s boss escalates the competition
The battle for the Formula 1 crown is more exciting this season than it has been for years. Two top drivers fight hard on the world’s race tracks, the team bosses are in no way inferior to the off-track pilots. And it could all get harder.
The World Cup chase between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen also pushes the command posts of the opponents to their limits. In the ever-worsening Formula 1 coronation battle, the climate between the rival team bosses Toto Wolff and Christian Horner has long been poisoned. There are threats and curses. Before setting off into the crucial desert weeks with the last three races of the season in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, Hamilton’s Mercedes supervisor Wolff was fed up.
“We had to take a lot of hits in the face this weekend with decisions that could have been for both sides, against us or for us,” said the Austrian after Hamilton’s outstanding comeback win in São Paulo. “If the decisions are always against us, I’m just angry about it and I’ll defend my team and my drivers no matter what. I’ve always been very diplomatic in the way I discuss things. But diplomacy has ended.”
“Embarrassing for the race management”
The emotions are foaming. After all, it’s all about everything in this memorable season, in which Hamilton, only 14 points behind Verstappen, draws hope again for the World Cup. The weekend in Brazil was his toughest, said the 36-year-old against the backdrop of a series of penalties. At the same time, however, it was “definitely one of the best weekends, if not the best weekend I’ve experienced in my entire career”.
The Interlagos trip cost Wolff a lot of nerves. Hamilton’s subsequent disqualification in the start chase because of an irregular rear wing had initially angered him. Red Bull had just started the investigation. Mercedes itself will from now on question every tape on the car, announced Wolff.
In the São Paulo spectacle he was furious with a tough defensive maneuver by Verstappens against Hamilton. It is an “absolute mess not to get a penalty for being pushed out,” Wolff grumbled on TV channel Sky. To dismiss the maneuver as a racing incident and “wipe under the carpet is actually embarrassing for the race management.”
“If it continues like this …”
Red Bull team boss Horner had no understanding for Wolff. “Max drives tough races, so does Lewis. They’re two men fighting for the championship, so they race tough,” said Horner. “I have no problem with that.”
What he has a problem with, however, is Verstappen’s shrinking World Cup lead and the top speed of the Silver Arrows on the straights. Red Bull had to retrofit its flexible rear wing after tightening the rules in the summer. The Mercedes racing team accuses the component of being too flexible. “We don’t have enough facts yet to be able to really proceed,” said Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko about a possible protest against allegedly non-conforming components on the Mercedes.
And now the Silver Arrows have also equipped Hamilton with a new engine. “I’m amazed by the speed on the straight, it’s from another planet,” said Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez. “Mercedes has achieved a masterpiece in conjuring up such a rocket in this crucial phase,” said Marko of the powerful drive. “If things continue like this, things won’t look so good for the World Cup.”