RESULTS: Brazilian Grand Prix – Qualifying results
Toto Wolff has revealed his motivation for contacting Max Verstappen's father ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix was 'out of sympathy' for the youngster's portrayal in the media and the potential 'negative spin' to be considered if he became embroiled in the title fight.
Earlier this week it emerged Wolff had contacted Max's father Jos and discussed the Red Bull Racing driver, with the Mercedes team boss reportedly recommending the former F1 driver attend more races to benefit his son's 'set-up'.
However, his actions were slammed by Red Bull boss Christian Horner, who is furious with what he felt was unnecessary interference from the boss of another team, going on to describe it as 'total rubbish'.
“Jos told me that when he got here on Thursday and I was just a bit surprised that Toto called a driver's father from another team," Horner told Sky Sports on Friday. "I was a bit surprised hearing that. I am not a team principal calling another team's driver's father. Obviously Toto would and felt the need to do so!”
However, though Wolff admits he did indeed call Jos and discussed Max, he insists it was done to benefit the 19 year-old because he feels the 'negative spin in the media around his driving is unjustified'.
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“It is a complete non-story for me. I had a really nice conversation with Jos like I have had many nice conversations in the past about many things like driving, young drivers and on everything including his daughter and karting, I've had him for dinner at my house! So what's all that nonsense?
“I think he is a great driver who has incredible skill and is refreshing as a character. He is spontaneous and intelligent. Outside of the Red Bull team I am a really big fan and he is just what the doctor ordered in Formula One. I think that a lot of positive stuff in Formula One is created around headlines and the last thing I want is to change his approach because it is important for Formula One.
“I didn't say to move out of the way or to race in a different way, the things I discussed with Jos were two things, first of all I felt unfortunately for Max there was a negative spin in some of the media around his driving which I said was unjustified in my eyes and that I felt it needed to be counter-steered somehow.
“I did it only out of sympathy for Max and Jos and nothing else, and I think that him being at the race was an important factor and it was the set-up of the Verstappen family for 20 years. That's why Jos being present was, I think, important for Max. It was a personal opinion, not as someone from Mercedes, and just a personal conversation I would have with him regularly. And he acknowledged it.
Wolff's comments come despite the Austrian being openly critical of Verstappen's driving in past, most notably in Japan when he was accused of moving under braking in defence of Lewis Hamilton and again in Mexico when he nearly came to blows with Nico Rosberg at the start of the race.
With this in mind, Wolff added that Verstappen should consider the implications as the results are 'not important for Max as it is for the other two [Rosberg and Hamilton]'.
“There are two races to the end and if an accident would happen it would add to the negative spin from the media, which could be avoided.
“It was just to consider that this is not as important for Max as it is for the other two and we are in a very fortunate position that whoever wins is going to be a Mercedes driver so it was out of sympathy for Max.
“I don't think even Lewis and Nico care and they don't expect him to race in any way differently to before, and that's why they will not change their approach. In the same way, this wasn't meant as advice for Max, it's just that two racing enthusiasts had a private discussion that has been dragged out in the public. It's going to be the same like every first corner.”
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