Decision not to penalise Verstappen “laughable” - Wolff

Toto Wolff says the decision not to penalise Max Verstappen for his aggressive defence against Lewis Hamilton at Turn 4 in Formula 1’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix was “laughable”.
Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB16B.
Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB16B.

F1’s two title contenders went head-to-head again in Brazil as Verstappen and Hamilton battled for the lead.

On Lap 48, Hamilton tried to go around the outside of Verstappen at Turn 4, with the pair running off the track.

The stewards noted the incident but ultimately decided against fully investigating it, meaning Verstappen escaped a penalty.

Hamilton overtook Verstappen several laps later to take his sixth victory of the campaign, reducing the deficit in the championship to just 14 points with three rounds remaining.

Giving his point of view after the race, Wolff was frustrated by the stewards’ leniency on a weekend where Mercedes was already on the receiving end of the FIA’s decisions. 

“I mean the whole weekend went against us, we had a broken part on our wing which we couldn’t look at, couldn’t analyse, failed the test, got disqualified, very harsh,” Wolff said.

“Then you see Red Bull with three times in a row on the rear wing while being in parc ferme with no consequence. That’s one thing. That really peaked with the decision in the race which was really wrong defence from Max, absolutely an inch over the limit but he needed to do that to defend and Lewis just managed it even more brilliantly by avoiding the contact and ending the race that way.

“But that was just over the line and should have been a five-second penalty at least, Max probably knew that, but just brushing it under the carpet is just tip of the iceberg, it’s laughable.”

Wolff refused to answer when asked what he thought the decision would have been had it been Hamilton defending aggressively rather han Verstappen.

“Well I don’t want to claim anything on the stewards,” Wolff added. “I think they have a difficult life anyway, they are only there to lose, whatever decision they take one team’s gonna be grumpy, and in that respect I don’t want to be in this chair but in a certain way when you’re taking punches all weekend, and then you have such a situation on top of everything, you’re just losing faith, in a way.”

The German still wants to see drivers race each other hard in F1 but wants the rules to be applied consistently.

“Yeah whatever is in the director’s notes we are going to accept, he explained.

“I’m also okay if the director's notes are being shredded and we race hard like we did today, fine, but if the director's notes say you can’t push anybody off the track in Mexico and obviously that is valid here too and you’re being driven off the track it is just not very consistent.

“To call it that way; my discussion with the race director was not broadcasted but my reaction was, and it is clear we will discuss it behind closed doors.”

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