Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Baku City Circuit, 2017

Baku incident is a “closed chapter” for Mercedes

2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff says the team has moved on from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix following the collision between Sebastian Vettel and its driver Lewis Hamilton.

Wolff said he suspected it had been just “a matter of time” before the pair clashed.

“Every great Formula One season is marked by a great rivalry,” Wolff reflected. “Last year it was our internal battle between Lewis and Nico and this year it seems that the fight is on between Ferrari and Mercedes and Lewis and Sebastian.”

“As calm as it started, it was only a matter of time until the rivalry would eventually become more fierce and controversial. That moment happened in Baku and we saw the results of that tension on track.”

“We have moved passed that moment now and it is a closed chapter. The hearing on Monday was between the FIA and Sebastian and it reached the conclusion we have all seen.”

Wolff said Mercedes’ priority since the race has been “reviewing both the design and procedures around our headrest which cost Lewis the win two weeks ago.”

He added the team had made further progress with the difficulties it had experienced in getting the most out of the W08 chassis.

“We have made a step since Monaco in understanding what it takes to make our car perform,” he said. “The sweet spot is still difficult to find but we are starting to do so more regularly.”

2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 36 comments on “Baku incident is a “closed chapter” for Mercedes”

    1. Well said by TW and consistent with what he said after the incident…that the gloves are off in this rivalry which is better than a love-in between the two (likely) Championship contenders.

    2. German team boss wants a German champion, no wonder.

      It is poor Lewis against the whole world..

      1. I don’t want to come across all Joe Sawrad-ey but saying that Toto has taken that stance because he wants a German world champion is a bit of a stretch.

        And FYI, Toto is Austrian.

        1. “Joe Saward-ey”, hahaha, seriously… I mean I respect Joe for his experience, commitment and insight that he shares on his blog… But he’s having his own Baku moment on this topic… Seeing red everywhere…

          I do believe Sumedh’s comment is tongue-in-cheek though?…

      2. I don’t want to, but I can’t help agree with Sumedh here. Ever since the incident happened Toto has been irritatingly mellow about what happened, even going to the extent of supporting Vettel. There’s no sense in him dismissing this as mere title rivalry. Rivalry happens on the track during green flag period – this act by Vettel is barbaric, childish and stupid, and, in spite of belonging to the team and driver that was affected, Toto isn’t saying anything to condemn that brat Vettel.

        I’ve never been a Lewis Hamilton fan, but incidents such as these and the reaction of even his own team and that hypocritical clown Jean Todt are increasing my sympathy towards him. Perhaps Mercedes AMG is trying to lure Vettel to their team.

        1. … I’m pretty sure Sumedh is being sarcastic, joking about how Hamilton fans claimed it was fixed that Rosberg won last year as Wolff wanted a German Champion.

          Toto is just accepting that in every rivalry something happens, and is smart enough to know that nothing he can do will influence the decision made by the FIA, so he’s just getting on with it, and acting like nothing happened to cool Lewis down, so the team has the best chance to win the WCC and WDC

          1. Well said. Frankly, I don’t believe Lewis is as angry about this also. One instagram like means nothing.
            If you notice the last two weeks, you will see that Mercedes has also been very quiet on the whole incident and as has Ferrari. All that has been happening is the media continuing the negative coverage against Ferrari while Mercedes quietly focused on fixing its own race procedures.
            Toto and Lewis know that they have got Ferrari in a spot of bother (both on and off track). One lack of race ban is not going to change that. There is no need for them to talk on this incident and distract from the real work.

            And yes, I was being sarcastic in my first post :)

        2. SevenFiftySeven
          5th July 2017, 11:18

          We’re getting a bit too carried away here. There is a lingering problem in all of this, and that is the mistaken feeling among Lewis’ most passionate fans that everybody is after Lewis. As long as this feeling prevails, those who feel affected by what happens with Lewis will always view the world in extremes. And, the most popular bad thing they see in most cases is a) the race issue, b) the hate issue, and c) the oppressor issue. The other extreme they see is they can’t be wrong, so that would be the self-righteous issue.

          1. The race issue exists. Check out some of the comments on YouTube etc. (i.e. where little or no modding takes place) to get an idea of where a lot of the anti-Hamilton anger comes from.

            However I don’t see any problem with Wolff’s remarks. Mercedes want the Ferrari rivalry, which means Vettel given that Raikkonen is never really at the races. And yes, maybe he doesn’t want to alienate Vettel, always a potential driver. or make things to easy for Hamilton, already more powerful this year with Rosberg gone. Fair enough, that’s his job.

            1. You don’t have to check YouTube, just check twitter

            2. @Kgn11, I imagine so, but it’s not somewhere I venture of my own free will (not without losing the will to live).

            3. SevenFiftySeven
              6th July 2017, 11:26

              Thank you for your reply, David BR, and your input, Kgn11. Yes, I have seen some unequivocal racist comments made on youtube, which is very, very unfortunate. I’ve also read other comments where drivers are slandered for (in their view) not being honest. Like David BR, I don’t use twitter, so don’t know much about that.

              I’m sure you know not everyone is motivated by that sickening state of mind. There are many fans of motorspots in general, fans of F1, and even fans of other F1 drivers who see other F1 drivers as respectable competitors. Some others are just acerbic by nature, some are heavily biased, some see double standards, some see hypocrisy in the way the press frames things. Some may simply not like how a particular driver carries himself around. It’s a large set of people getting their views out since they can on this new platform of communication. There was a time when one guy was called the Finger Boy, just because some people couldn’t stand the idea of that driver winning races.

              Let’s completely ignore people whose comments give them away. All the best!

        3. @pt

          To be honest, I’m surprised that Lewis was the only one making strong statements against Vettel’s behaviour. As you mentioned, Toto Wolff was especially coy on the subject, and most shocking of all is how silent Lauda has been on this entire debacle. It’s almost unthinkable that Lauda hasn’t commented on this issue… as he hasn’t missed an opportunity in 4 seasons to do so.

          I can only think that the rumours of Vettel joining Mercedes in the near future are very true. They wouldn’t want to attack their driver or cause any sort of rift before he joins the team.

    3. Fukobayashi (@)
      4th July 2017, 16:10

      All of the communication from Toto has been suspiciously impartial around this whole incident. That pre-contract with Vettel is seeming more and more likely.

      1. Maybe there is some self interest in Wolff’s reluctance to carry this on, but what is gained by him continuing to muddy the waters? Isn’t it better for him to be able to talk to Maurizio Arrivabene without getting into battle over past grievances? Arrivabene would have spoken to Vettel after the race, or rather unleashed his wrath. There could easily be clauses in their contract that allow him to fine Vettel for this sort of incident. If so, then one would expect them to have invoked those clauses, and Toto would probably have been informed of this.
        Hamilton’s contract with Mercedes runs out at the end of the 2018 season, so it would make sense for Mercedes to have someone contracted to drive for 2019 to cover the eventuality Hamilton decides to drive Ferrari, and the only drivers with a chance of having that contract are Vettel and Bottas.
        From the article it seems Wolff was more concerned with the head protection coming loose than the actual incident itself, because that is what cost Hamilton in his points lead over Bottas.

        1. One loose head and one loose head rest

          1. Good one!

        2. @drycrust Not sure I take your point. Because TW isn’t (wasn’t) carrying the SV saga on, that means he is muddying waters? It means he must have a pre-contract with SV? And there are clauses in SV’s contract that have been invoked and TW will have been informed of that?

          Sorry, I don’t buy any of that. I think TW has been quiet because it has been an issue between SV and the FIA. I think Ferrari have already moved past this too, and aren’t upset with SV. And I think TW will be hiring FA for the very reason you say…LH’s contract only runs through 2018. There is no reason for TW to not hire FA.

      2. @offdutyrockstar

        Something certainly is going on behind the scenes, and a pre-conract seems very likely.

    4. “reviewing both the design and procedures around our headrest which cost Lewis the win two weeks ago.”
      What’s he saying there? By design the headrest can sometimes come off unexpectedly? or that design allows the headrest to look secure and easy to make a mistake by personnel?

      1. Neil (@neilosjames)
        4th July 2017, 18:03

        I think it’s likely there’s nothing wrong with the headrest at all… someone just made a mistake.

        But this being F1, Mercedes have to make a professional-sounding statement announcing that the team will hold an investigation into something vague and non-specific relating to the headrest.

        1. probably making it a bit more foolproof is my guess

      2. Are you for real?

    5. In other news: Peter Sagan is disqualified from the Tour de France after a coming-together with Mark Cavendish

      1. Was it behind the safety bike?

        1. No, at full racing speed.

    6. Kudos for Keith for remaining relatively unbiased/neutral. Some bloggers really got hothead because if this, unbelievable how they are arrogant. i am rooting for mercedes and was expecting race ban for vettel but i am ok with FIA decision. Vettel did it on purpose but he didn’t intend to benefit from it (unlike Schumacher or Senna). Let them sort it out with racing.

    7. All this is blown hugely out of proportion. I think Button said it best. Vettel did something wrong, he got punished for it, move on. It is not Vettel’s problem Ham couldn’t capitalize. We are in a sport where everyone is trying to bend at stretch the rules to the max, so I don’t think that F1 drivers are the best examples for behavior. 90% of them are self centered narcissist, which would happily throw their mothers under the bus if it gave them an extra point or two for the WC (ex: HAM lying, which ultimately resulting in the firing of an employee working for Mclaren for 20+ years). The question is not if one is right or wrong, but how much you can get away with. Had Vet damaged or ended Ham’s race then yes ban him, but although his actions were unsportsmanlike, they were not dangerous, when talking about cars designed to crash at 300+. Again I think Button said it best. Just move on and let them race.

      1. You were doing great until you showed an obvious bias by bringing up the ‘Lewis lied’ moment. 10 years ago. Under instruction from the second most senior chap on the team…

        For clarity and because he had not met with such before – the chap with 20 years etc told him what to say. He had just one year of experience for clarity and none as a team boss…

        Anyway you like all the SV chaps, just cannot wait to ‘move on’ or the ‘nothing to see here’ etc.

        Well other than the red team star driver pulled a completely ridiculous stunt that would have banned him at a karting meet… And then denied such. That on top of doing such just a few months before when he ‘apologised again’ and said he would be a good boy? Oh please come on.

        That’s without this time being let off after the most ridiculous apology anyone has ever seen…

        Yep – in your shoes I just bet your just hoping everyone moves on. Because any single solitary inspection of such ridiculous behaviour and appalling governance just makes all those trying to ‘move on’ look frankly completely ridiculous.

        1. Well I am just a fan of f1 and personally want to see the battle decided in racing terms and not in the stewards room. But I guess you like most Ham fans are very good at pointing the finger at others and accuse them of wanting to “move on”, while at the same time you apply the same logic concerning HAM by simply saying he was instructed and shift the blame on someone else. We all know HAM has quite bad history of following team orders so lets not start with that. Again its not so much about the “moving on” he didn’t do anything wrong, but he received the most severe punishment in a race situation, short of DQ. Had he ended or compromised HAM’s race then I agree DQ him. So if you are that concerned for his actions then why not advocate for him to receive a very very very big fine, or go to anger management therapy? Why do all HAM fans want him to be DQ so that their driver can get points advantage off track and not beat him fair and square on track?

    8. Otoyo Sibuor
      5th July 2017, 8:33

      What’s a bit surprising to me is that Toto has not come out to defend Lewis even once in this whole saga. Quite strange, team bosses usually come out in their drivers’ corners esp when the driver was clearly the wronged party in a case as open-and-shut as this one.
      Whoever mentioned a Vettel pre-contract with Merc might be onto something.

      1. Its excellent politics to point the finger somewhere else, makes the ‘listener’ turn around and look the other way.
        To defend suggests Lewis did something wrong, simple.

      2. Precisely because it was clear to most observers that Vettel was responsible for both incidents (forgetting those with no understand of Formula 1 racing, like Ecclestone), there wasn’t much point in accusing or defending. Just stay out and let Ferrari soak up the trouble. And Hamilton gets some extra motivation for the rest of the season.

      3. @Otoyo Sibuor If you are calling this an open-and-shut case, doesn’t that explain why TW would have felt no need to defend LH?

        This Vettel-Merc concept is silly. Because TW isn’t slamming SV verbally, this must mean he wants him to drive for Mercedes in the near future? Oh please.

      4. Why would Toto need to defend Lewis? He did nothing wrong, the stewards already cleared him

    9. Please please please FOM, sit LH and SV next to each other in the presser. It will be like an Ealing Comedy!

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