Wolff accused of being ‘flippant’ with Hamilton DSQ risk repeat remark

Mercedes F1 team principal Toto Wolff has been accused of making a “flippant” remark by saying he would risk a repeat of Lewis Hamilton’s United States Grand Prix disqualification. 
Wolff accused of being ‘flippant’ with Hamilton DSQ risk repeat remark

Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc were excluded from second and sixth place respectively in Austin after their cars were found to have excessive plank wear, breaching F1’s technical regulations. 

At this weekend’s Mexico City Grand Prix, Wolff admitted Mercedes would be prepared to gamble on the rules to compete for a race win, rather than playing it safe by taking a conservative approach to car set-up. 

But Wolff has come under-fire for his comments from F1 co-commentator Martin Brundle, who said such a risk is “absolutely not” worth taking. 

“I think Toto is being a bit flippant there,” he said during Sky’s F1 coverage.

“Toto and Lewis have done a very good job this weekend of saying ‘nothing to see here, look at all these others, they must have been cheating as well’ - cheating is too strong a word, found to be outside of the regulations. 

“But some teams lifted their cars to be certain, because it was a sprint weekend, because it was bumpy, drivers taking kerbs, talk of a headwind pushing the cars down a little bit more down on the back straight. 

“I don’t believe that Mercedes was illegal by just a small amount. It was a reasonable chunk that they had worn through. Also, I think we had an exceptional circumstance here. 

“We know how much performance comes from lowering these ground-effect cars. They should be paying more attention post-race. Post-race, they should be checking all of the skids.”

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14 celebrates at the end of the race. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14 celebrates at the end of the race…

Fellow Sky F1 pundit Jenson Button agreed, adding he was “surprised that Toto said that”. 

“It was probably a flippant remark because nobody wants to be caught cheating,” the 2009 world champion added. 

“It looks very bad for the team, very bad for the OEM also. But the information that was interesting to me was that they checked two cars because they thought those two would be outside of the regulations. 

“And when they checked them and were correct, they were illegal, they checked two other cars just to make sure their information and data was correct, and those two [Max Verstappen and Lando Norris] were legal. So the FIA are doing the right thing.”

Questions have also been raised as to whether Mercedes’ most competitive showing of a difficult 2023 season was ultimately down to their ride height. 

Sky F1 pundit Bernie Collins said: “I think we’re all agreed that lowering the ride height in these cars brings performance. What we are not sure of, is how much performance. They were definitely a lot closer to Max. 

“This weekend, if there is a bigger performance differential, we can’t be clear if that’s ride height or track-specific. Here, maybe their new upgrade doesn’t suit the track as much, or the downforce, so there’s lots of question marks that will remain. 

“I think that this track, because it’s not a sprint weekend, because it’s not as bumpy, even riding the same ride height as they ran last weekend, they will probably be legal here. 

“So it is a track-specific issue in Austin, but it’s the same for everyone.”

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