Why Wolff was wrong to tell Russell he should have backed down against Bottas

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Whatever the rights or wrongs of the George Russell-Valtteri Bottas clash on lap 33 of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – crucially, the stewards took no further action, suggesting no driver was predominantly to blame – the most astounding aspect was not that the Mercedes driver was racing a Williams at the time, or that he was about to be lapped by team mate Lewis Hamilton, but team boss Toto Wolff’s subsequent comments.

“The whole situation should have never happened. Valtteri had a bad first 30 laps and should have never been in that position, but George should never have launched into this manoeuvre considering that the track was drying up,” Wolff began, logically, but then added, “it meant taking risk and the other car in front of him was a Mercedes.

“Any young driver must never lose this global perspective. Lots to learn for him I guess.

“[A young driver] needs to see that there is a Mercedes and it’s wet, so there is a certain risk to overtake and the odds are against him anyway when the track is drying up.”

Note the implication that Russell should have given up a fight for legitimate position on the basis that the Mercedes may be faster, later. Wolff also (jokingly) suggested Russell could be demoted to the Renault Clio Cup as punishment rather than be promoted to the main Mercedes team at season’s end when his three-year Williams contract expires.

Feature: “A bad 30 laps” for Bottas should concern Mercedes more than Russell’s failed pass
That the crash caused a red flag which, due to regulatory restart vagaries, enabled Hamilton to vault from an almost certain seventh to second – gaining 12 valuable points and costing arch-rival Red Bull a potential eight in the constructors championship – seemed lost on Wolff.

Let us, though, examine Wolff’s comments from the ‘global perspective’ of Formula 1: It is first and foremost a sporting competition in which drivers endeavour to deliver the best possible result for their teams and themselves – in that order. There are absolutely no doubts Russell did precisely that, even if his attempted pass ultimately proved ill-fated, and Wolff, as CEO of an F1 team should be first to acknowledge that.

Russell, is of course, a Mercedes-backed driver racing for a Mercedes-powered (customer) team. Bottas is a Wolff (part)-managed driver – the Austrian is part of a syndicate that manages his career, having funded Valtteri’s formative years – driving for the Mercedes team in which Wolff has a 33.3% stake. See the potential for enormous conflict of interest in what is a global sporting arena?

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Post-race, Russell issued a statement admitting: “Today wasn’t my proudest day. I knew it would be one of the best opportunities to score points this season and, when these points matter as much as they do to [Williams] right now, sometimes you take risks. It didn’t pay off and I have to take responsibility for that.”

Interview: Massive disappointments happen, I can deal with them: George Russell speaks to RaceFans
Note the ‘have’. By implication, though, George does not take ‘full’ responsibility. One wonders whether how voluntary this statement was. Indeed, one wonders why Wolff did not recognise the need for points by the battling team given his former role as Williams executive director, his recent connections with the team as shareholder and relationship as power unit (and from 2022 full powertrain) supplier.

Wolff also suggested that his team’s upgrade programme could be jeopardised due to the accident, as “Our car is a write-off in a cost cap environment; that is certainly not what we needed. And probably it’s going to limit upgrades that we are able to do.

“We are very stretched on cost cap, and what we always feared is a total write-off of a car. This one is not going to be a total write-off, but almost, and that is not something we really wanted,” he said post-race, adding that he would be emphasising these points to Russell. Yet Wolff said little in public about Bottas’ role in the crash, save, that is, to imply that he had underperformed for 30 laps.

Williams, operating to a lower budget than even the $145 million cap, also suffered major damage but accepted the matter stoically. The team’s head of vehicle performance, Dave Robson, said: “To finish with nothing is obviously deeply frustrating. But I suppose the only positive is the car was good, the pace was good.

“At least the accident came as a result of us attacking, and of all the cars to attack it was the Mercedes, which is not something we’ve been able to do for a long time.”

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The potential for conflict of interest does not end with Williams, either – Wolff is a shareholder in Aston Martin, naming partner to the Mercedes-powered F1 team formerly known as Racing Point which was last year found guilty by FIA stewards of illegally duplicating Mercedes rear brakes ducts. How long before Wolff wields his influence over Aston Martin’s drivers, or the team’s strategies?

Wolff said Russell has “lots to learn”
Indeed, Wolff’s influence across three F1 teams is such that one wonders about the political pressures that can be exerted, particularly if McLaren’s power unit dependence is factored into the equation. No other individual wields as much as power over a combination of F1 teams and drivers as does Wolff.

While the FIA has since the end of 2010 permitted ‘team orders’ within the same team, any form of race fixing is expressly forbidden. Issuing threats to drivers who have the temerity to challenge for position under competitive conditions arguably falls into the latter category. Wolff should be required to officially clarify his post-race comments and provide undertakings that Russell is free to race the entire grid.

Ferrari supplies power units to two customer teams – its F1 managing director Mattia Binotto holds no equity in the team nor driver contracts – and Alpine only to its own outfit, while Honda is engine supplier to two (Red Bull) teams only. Thus, Wolff potentially holds more political power than Ferrari and more than Alpine and the two Red Bull operations combined.

Plato (the classical philosopher, not the touring car champion) is credited with saying: “The measure of a man is what he does with power.” That was evident on Sunday evening.

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187 comments on “Why Wolff was wrong to tell Russell he should have backed down against Bottas”

  1. Exert more caution rather than backing down should have been the case.. The incident actually reminds me a bit of Verstappen vs Bottas in Monza 2018.

    1. I thought you mentioned Baku or Brazil for a second.

    2. To me, on live TV last Sunday, reminded me of Vettel/Button at the bus stop chicane in Spa 2010.

      1. Yea also that, all three are pretty similar, but the Monza one ended in only front wing damage, while the other two ended up with dnfs on Button, Russell and Bottas.

    3. If Russell were Asian or South American, there would a call to kick him out of F1 for dangerous driving or at the very least people would be questioning his skills, but because he’s British, the uproar is the opposite. Let him drive, let people see how truly great he is.

      1. agree, same with Montoya they didnt let him shine.

        1. or Maldonado

          1. He’s just a meme legend, you know. Undisputed Meme Legend!

      2. Olivier and @re-play So are all the non-UK based media calling for Russell to be banned from F1 after one crash? Or is pro-UK driver bias a global phenomenon? I don’t remember the media in general calling for the removal of either Maldonado or Grosjean from F1 back when they were crashing multiple times per season so it seems to me it would need a lot more than one crash for the media to start applying pressure to get drivers banned.

        1. I don’t think anyone would be calling for an Asian or South American driver to be removed for the failed attempt only as was more like a racing incident, but Russel slapping Bottas in the helmet after the incident was ridiculous and seems like everybody conveniently brushes that behavior under the carpet. Russel is a great talent and has immense speed, no two questions about that. Bottas had nothing to do that far down and overall don’t think many think he deserves that Merc seat, but… Russel already has a track record of throwing it away when the rare opportunity comes with that Williams. Again, the crash was a racing incident and that’s not my issue but the way he conducted himself after I would agree its possible if he come from a different geographical area, the discussion may have been very different. Yes, he did apologise eventually but I’m sure that happened as a result of being pressured by Toto and his management.

      3. How is the reaction opposite? His decision making/driving skills have been questioned albeit by Wolff. If as you say he was a Brazilian driver everyone would be calling for his head ….. but would they? If, as a Brazilian driving for Williams, he had a 100% qualifying record against his teammate and outperformed the Mercedes no. 2 driver in a one-off event last year I think he’d hold just as much respect for his abilities as George currently holds. So basically I disagree with your analogy.


    4. I agree with most of the comments on Toto Wolf and his involvement on the teams but question the fact that Ferrari have more of a conflict of interest than even Toto.
      They have a veto on everything that happens and it sad to see the FIA being run by ex Ferrari personal. They get more prize money than the team that wins just because they have stayed in the sport. The Sport should be run without their involvement at this level .Lets be honest the season in recent years where they were guilty of cheating was brushed under the carpet. A secrete deal with ex Ferrari people high up in the FIA stinks .

      1. Well said!

      2. Lets be honest the season in recent years where they were guilty of cheating was brushed under the carpet. A secrete deal with ex Ferrari people high up in the FIA stinks

        I’m sorry, I haven’t heard anyone apart from armchair experts (usually British) accuse Ferrari of cheating. Just because they had to make changes to the engine doesn’t mean that it was running illegally. Ferrari has consistently stated that it never ran illegally. The FIA have never said that it ran illegally either. It is more likely that Ferrari exploited a loophole in the regulations which the FIA (didn’t want other engine manufacturers knowing about and looking to similarly exploit) eventually found and closed.

    5. Wolff ordered the crash to buy red flag fir Hamilton.

  2. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    24th April 2021, 12:28

    It was disgusting to hear him say Russell should have backed off against Bottas. In the position Wolff has over Russell, essentially controlling his career, implying he should have given up fighting for position against a Mercedes is gross on multiple levels. It’s a obvious threat to his long term prospects and implies that Mercedes ‘customers’ and drivers of them are not permitted to fight the works team on merit. Grosjean & Lotus’s secret engine mode from a few years ago comes to mind.

    Too much talk is made of Russell crashing and not enough of Bottas being in the position to be bested by a Williams. Of course it is embarassing for Bottas to be overtaken by a Williams, but equally for Wolff to have a Mercedes defeated by a customer.

    1. James Lepper
      25th April 2021, 7:33

      It was very convenient for Hamilton as it allowed him to unlap himself. So someone highly cynical might say there was some shrugging of shoulders and positioning from Toto and company but that it was not really deemed a serious error of judgement.

    2. Early in the season we saw already a change in attitude from George. And rightfully so. Unlike others he is taking his career into his own hands. Best he can do is leave the Mercedes family and deprive them from future championships by winning them with RedBull, Alpine or Ferrari. I am sure he is far better than checo in that RedBull. I would punish the .. out of Toto for his remark if I were Russell

      1. Good luck finding a team. Rather a presentation he needs big bucks to find another seat, all top seats are taken. Russel to RedBull? Do they want a spoiled disobedient kid? Maybe one year until they scrap him. His best chance to shut up and hope for Toto’s forgiveniss after all this british hellfire.

    3. I don’t understand british media at the moment. If this goes on, talking all about russel and criticize Toto, the relationship between Toto and Russel won’t end good, russel not getting merc seat at the end. Not because he crashed into bottas, because of these fuming and overexeggerating things by british media.

      And, who the heck is russel in his curren position against Toto, so just stop all these madness and move on. Russel has nothing to say about his potential seat at mercedes, he just proved that he will cause chaos when he is against his teammate or hamilton at mercedes, so it’s definitely a no-go for merc. They will stick with bottas, big time.

  3. I agree. I think Wolff should be forced to publicly apologise to George and to F1 for his comments after the race. Making threats even in jest is not acceptable. Damaging George’s reputation is not acceptable. If this is how Wolff behaves in public, I can just imagine how he behaves in private.

    1. Guess you didn’t like his apology, Crashstappen Russellado. You said Crashstappen at Sakhir GP weekend, I’m not lying.

      1. Are you feeling ok?

      2. I scared him, now I think he’s scared of me now.

    2. Bottas screwed up, threatened Russell to back off and in his inexperience, Russell couldn’t tell how far Bottas was moving over so he gave himself more room and accidentally touched the wet grass.

      Any driver who doesn’t make that move doesn’t belong in F1

      1. Fortunately the majority of f1 drivers doesn’t make that moves, if not races won’t finish.

        1. Racing incident!

        2. FOrtUnaTeLy THE MaJoRity OF F1 DriveRS DOesn’t MAkE ThAt MOveS, If nOt RaCeS Won’t fIniSh.

          Shut the hell up and accept that I destroyed you.

    3. That way to call russel is ridiculous and you’re the only one who says that, russel is more like hulkenberg, a very fast driver prone to wasting chances, but he didn’t waste the biggest chance to impress at mercedes, and yes, there’s more in a race than just the result, I’m sure raikkonen in 2005 has been rated the best driver of races in which he retired, given he was particularly fast back then but the car was unreliable.

      1. @esploratore I know right? Well said, you just made him shut up!

    4. Exactly, because its a competition sport. Toto mental state is a cheating one. Why should anyone back off from mediocre driver Bottas? He should have praised Russell and thank him for the podium place it subsequently handed to Lewis. The otherwise admirable team boss will show its true colors under pressure I guess..

    5. Coventry Climax
      25th April 2021, 12:32

      I would very much like to see that happen, @AliceD. On the other hand however, and your last sentence already says something in the same direction, my opinion of mr. Wolff is that he is vengeful, not to be trusted. Slick as an eel in a bucket of snot, the Dutch would say. So, when he does apologise in public, there’s no telling to what degree he will take ‘his loss’ out on Russel behind closed doors, even while smiling in front of them. I wouldn’t like to see that happen.

      The Plato quote is brilliant, @Dieter. That certainly is something to contemplate with mr. Wolff.

    6. @aliced

      Honestly, I think Wolff lost the plot when making these statements. He clearly looks as Russell as his asset, a sidelined member of Team Mercedes, instead of looking at him at what his current standing in the sport is – A Williams driver.

      The ‘global perspective’ that Wolff seems to be missing is that they are rivals out on track, and George is driving at the maximum to score points for his team after a year of zero points. A point or two scored for Williams is probably more precious than a win for Mercedes. So, by asking him to back down when he sees a Mercedes car in front is essentially asking him to not fulfil his obligation as a Williams driver. Which is frankly.. quite disrespectful to Mercedes and the sport in general.

      I’m a fan of Wolff and his achievements, but these statements just took him a notch down in my book.

      1. *disrespectful to Williams

      2. F1 is not a sport, it’s just an entertainment and all about money. Toto just proved that he is a businenessman. Who wants a worker who gets on their way to success?

    7. Maldonado is a meme legend, you can’t dispute that lmao 🤣

    8. If you have doubts how Toto behaves in private then just don’t marry him.

    9. RUSSell COst mERc MiLLIonS OF Euros iN rEPAiRs.
      RussElL DamAgeD the SeASON OF OnE Of THE mercedEs DRiVerS, aNd compRoMiSed The DEveLOPinG Of The oThEr.
      ruSselL maDe HaMiLtON A FOrcEd erroR.
      rUssEll inSulTEd ANd Hit IN pUBLIc a parTnER In HiS comPANY.

      and tOTto WOLf shOulD apOlogIsE tO rUsSelL…



    10. In OTHer ERA In f1, ru$$£LL@D0 For thaT aCTIon would HAvE BEEn KIckED oF f1. dEsTrOyiNG 2 Cars AnD costINg lOT OF mONEY in repAirs, He is luCkY nOW F1 IS A RicH ERa, AnD THEY HaVE BiG BuDget fOr RePaiRs…

      Guess what Enemy Alex? This didn’t age well! And you lost again! I win 10-0 hahahahaha! TRASH!

    11. Enemy Alex tried to kill George Russell.
      Enemy Alex tried to kill Max Verstappen.
      Enemy Alex tried to kill Sebastian Vettel.
      Enemy Alex tried to kill Charles Leclerc.
      Enemy Alex tried to kill Lando Norris.
      Enemy Alex tried to kill Lewis Hamilton.
      Enemy Alex tried to kill Daniel Ricciardo.
      Enemy Alex tried to kill Lance Stroll.
      Enemy Alex tried to kill Nicholas Latifi.
      Enemy Alex tried to kill Valtteri Bottas.
      And then every single one teamed up, tracked Enemy Alex down and killed him.

    12. If this happened a few years ago, the drivers you constantly attacked would team up, track you down, and kill you. You’re disgraceful, Enemy Alex. Don’t forget that I constantly kill you every time with a killshot.

  4. James Coulee
    24th April 2021, 12:39

    Wolf’s reaction was exaggerated and, to me, a bit out of caracter.

    I’ve grown to suspect that Wolf’s discourse about this is just a way to begin setting up why at the end of the year he’ll renew with Bottas and leave Russel hanging.

    Maybe the rumors on Hamiton’s veto on Russell are true, maybe Wolf simply doesn’t want someone who’ll challenge Hamilton (Russell may not fit the “2nd driver” profile well) but, to me, there’s a sense that this is where this is going (unless Hamilton retires, which seems doubtful, as he was keen to test the 18 inch Pirellis).

    1. That’s a very interesting point. And I’m inclined to share some level of cynicism here.

    2. I concur too. That’s the uneasy feeling I got from these comments. Playing devil’s advocate, it’s also possible to read the opposite way: don’t mess up our season trying too hard with that Williams, George, you’ll be here next year. More likely that no decision has been made yet, especially considering Hamilton probably hasn’t decided anything yet. Nonetheless, something about Hamilton rushing back to race after contracting Covid-19 leaves me wondering about that Russell veto rumour too. It would go against everything he’s ever said about contracts and team mates. But there are various ways of making his preferences and displeasures known, I guess. Nonetheless, running away from serious competition in the same team isn’t a good way to end a spectacular career. So I hope the rumour is untrue.

      1. Indeed @david-br, @gontong and James Coulee, and that’s part of what this article highlights. I tend to dislike Horner mixing in, but I think we now need him and/or dr. Marko saying they called Russell about future roles at their team if things don’t work out with Mercedes , with something like ‘who as we all know from history, have been hesistant to sign super prospects next to Hamilton when they see them, that is how we got Max’ :)

        I do wonder whether it was partly a reaction to how strongly Russell condemned Bottas and Wolff feeling a need to protect his current driver (esp. if he doesn’t plan on keeping him?), but on the whole it rubbed wrong in a lot of ways.

        1. @bosyber I think you’re right about Russell’s angry reaction. It could well have been entirely genuine. But it could also be perceived as deliberately trying to expose Bottas’s flaws in a dispute between two drivers competing for a place at Mercedes and Wolff wanted to defuse that before it escalates. Certainly Russell apologized quickly (and well) for his reaction to the collision.

          1. oh, that’s a bit of an angle I didn’t think about @david-br, interesting thought

        2. If either Marko or Horner said they were interested in George (to put alongside Max) half the paddock would fall about laughing.

          1. Ahaha, indeed, I hope that happens, horner or marko saying they want russel, not a slight at perez, but simply to get back at wolff.

    3. Wolf’s reaction was exaggerated and, to me, a bit out of caracter.

      He seems the guy with the most anger management issues, based on all the stuff he hits with his fist even when the setbacks are minor.
      I would not be surprised if these anger fits sometimes linger on and impact his verbal expressions.

      PS if he gets this upset about his junior driver taking on a top car for position and points, then he must have been livid when his other junior hit the race leader when trying to unlap himself.

      1. No, cause the race leader wasn’t driving a mercedes!

    4. Maybe the rumors on Hamiton’s veto on Russell are true

      That wouldn’t make any sense – because Hamilton isn’t partnering Russell at Mercedes anytime soon or in the future. It is Bottas that will be partnering Russel, if Verstappen doesn’t go there nest season.

      Never mind that Hamilton has never vetoed any driver joining Mercedes.

      1. F1oSaurus (@)
        25th April 2021, 7:56

        @kbdavies It’s cute how you have taken a totally unsubstantiated rumor as an absolute truth. Even after that rumor has been completely debunked buy the fact that Red Bull has the better car, so why would Verstappen even move.

        1. @f1oclown
          It’s cute indeed how you, among many others, keep falling victim to Toto’s, and the rest of the Mercedes crew, persistent lies about the deficit of their car compared to the Red Bull, where it is clear to see to anyone with half a working brain that the Mercedes is still the superior package, but now only by half a second, given RBR’s superior driver compared to that of Mercedes (the one who doesn’t keep parking his car in the wall, only to get away with it by sheer luck/crashgate), an actual chance to fight for the title.

          1. I recognize you, Oconomo. Don’t hide.

        2. @f1osaurus – what is cute is your lack of understanding on what is happening behind the scenes, and thinking that other people are in the same boat.

          I agree that the current Red Bull is a faster car, but Verstappen going to Mercedes is a done deal for 2022 or 2023. It simply makes no difference how fast his car is at the moment.

          You don’t need to believe me. Just keep a close eye on paddock conversations, and monitor the dynamics between Vesterppen and Toto/Mercedes.

          All will be revealed soon.

          1. @kbdavies A done deal? To leave what might be the new benchmark team? Highly unlikely I would say. Of course neither of us know for sure, but I would be shocked if Max were to leave RBR now, as in for next year, and as well shocked if Mercedes would hire him beside LH. For of course I believe LH will be extending his contract for two more years after this one. Exactly what paddock conversation are we to keep a close eye on that you seem to have privy to? And ‘revealed soon?’ Lol.

            Hey if you’re right then I guess that will mean Max will have to have been awfully convinced that Mercedes will remain the benchmark for the new chapter, but I’m sure not. At a bare minimum he should stay where he is until he sees the compete level of his 2022 car, and then decide. And, is all this predicated on your assumption that LH is retiring? I really doubt LH is on his last year, for imho and as I have said elsewhere, he has too big an ego to not have it well known by the world when he will be on his last season so that he can bask in the glory of all those farewell races…he’ll want each race to be the farewell Lewis show.

            Perhaps you could expand on all your reasons why you are so convinced of this.

          2. F1oSaurus (@)
            26th April 2021, 6:54

            @kbdavies What is cute is that you think repeating some unsubstantiated rumors is you “understanding what is happening behind the scenes”. Like somehow that one rumor is set in stone. We all read them, but you are the only one taking it as gospel.

            Of course anything can happen, but Verstappen going to Mercedes is not a done deal for 2022 or 2023. He actually has a contract for 2022 and 2023 at Red Bull. Plus he recently stated again he has no desire to leave Red Bull and why would he since they have the fastest car already anyway and they just poached one of Mercedes main engine guys.

            In that light, Hamilton ending his career is less unlikely. Especially with the dirty way Verstappen is driving. Hamilton enjoys a fight, but not when it’s below the belt. Still, that’s also not set in stone and as Hamilton stated, it will depend on how he feels when they start negotiating for an extension over the summer.

            That’s straight from the actual people involved and what they are saying actually makes 100% sense.

    5. Coventry Climax
      25th April 2021, 12:42

      Why ‘out of character’ @James Coulee? When that same mr. Wolff can hardly be characterised as being honest or even open on .. well, nearly anything?
      I’d say his reaction is completely in line with who mr. Wolff really is.

  5. This reminds me of a few years ago when Mercedes (I’m guessing Toto) let lotus (who had a Mercedes engine) access a higher power mode just so one of their cars could pass and take points of Ferrari at Spa.

  6. I thought after crashgate there was something about team bosses not allowed manage drivers but I was obviously wrong. Toto has his eggs in so many baskets, massive conflicts of interest, I can never understand how it is allowed.

    1. This is the point of the whole thing.
      One man too much power!!
      Decides who people can crash into?
      What risks are acceptable for his managed drivers?
      Who they ultimately driving for despite being in a different team in part still owned by him? (did he give up sell his shares?)
      Who gets to use his engines at what price?
      Who gets to help and permission to copy his cars? (I’m sure they could have claimed foul of RP)

      I’m sorry Toto owns to much, manages too much and wields to much influence through F1 to be on the Pit wall. Maybe even beyond boardroom decisions relating to all the conflicts of interest.

  7. I did not think Toto’s comments were so problematic when I first read them, but this article really illustrates the point well. It is extremely dangerous for a person with so much political power in the sport to be exerting such influence and intimidation tactics to dissuade their competitors from competing against them. He should either apologize or be fined for suggesting something that is so morally egregious.

    1. I think he at least needs to do this:

      Wolff should be required to officially clarify his post-race comments and provide undertakings that Russell is free to race the entire grid.

      Of course teams have for decades exerted financial/political pressure over other teams that they supply parts to, or own in some cases like the two Alfa’s. There has always been a suggestion that for example one of their drivers, while getting lapped, might make it easier for their stablemate to get past, this has always been accepted as part of the game (although it must be said examples are fairly rare, and it’s difficult with the more strictly enforced blue flag rules now).

      The issue here is Wolff is suggesting they receive preferential treatment when racing for position as well, as if they are racing in the same team, which from a sporting standpoint has to cross the line I think.

      1. If you want to fight this behavior the thing that works best is for everyone to start shouting: “ because of the remarks made by Wolff I will never buy a Mercedes in my lifetime”. That is the only thing that actually works, all other measures are political whatevers.. hit them where it hurts. There is only one thing they want, it is not sportmanship, its money. They only listen if you influence their money

    2. @mittens Power corrupts. More power corrupts more apparently.

  8. Robert Mckay
    24th April 2021, 13:12

    It’s why we need spec engines (not just because it makes no sense for everyone to spend hundreds of millions of dollars developing them and then trusting to luck they all got it approximately as good as each other to make the racing competitive). I will allow some sort of fudge where manufacturers can only manufacture engines for their own team and everyone else uses a spec engine, so no customer engine supplies (with some sort of BoP equivalence formula between them).The politics of such a limited number of manufacturers providing engines to the field and to multiple customer teams is exceptionally bad for the sport. It’s been the case for a number of years, even pre-hybrid era.

    We also need to cut down these “collaborations” between teams (Merc-Aston, Ferrari-Alfa, Red Bull-Alpha Tauri etc.).

    We want each team to be totally independent of others. There are too many influences on smaller teams from bigger teams at present. We don’t need “blocs” of different teams that don’t race each other as hard or support each other politically to their own agenda. or take the bigger teams choice of driver because it gets them cheaper engines or whatever. And we don’t need an OEM basically leveraging the fact they supply engines to a third of the grid to get whatever they want in inducements to remain in the sport.

    In this context the Russell stuff is small but it’s a clear example of the type of thinking that pollutes teams when they have this level of unchecked power.

    1. There are plenty of series with spec engines, and that is fine, but it’s just not F1, and it never has been.
      F1 is about chasing a moving target with an ever-changing prototype, and all the glory and mess that entails, including politics. I, for one, am entertained.

      1. LOL, two words: Cosworth DFV.
        That, effectively, spec-engine (excepting Ferrari 312) produced the greatest era of F1.

        1. @Gary Of course, a great engine, but as you yourself point out, not one that every team used, or indeed had to use it. Thus, F1 was not a spec series even when Lotus et al. were winning with the Cosworth engine. If Ferrari were using it, the era wouldn’t be remembered in the same way surely.

  9. Wolf’s mind after the race was probably full of angst about Bottas’ performance and it spilled over in an attack on George which was inappropriate as Russell is driving for another team and looked as if he were saying Russell should give priory to Merc’s interest not Williams. . Inappropriate too as it ignores the duty of each driver to maximise points for their employers not for his agent ( in this case Wolff).

    Williams are a much poorer team but they not complaining. They are supporting their driver.

    The Mercedes whingeing about the damage, Wolff making waves unnecessarily both suggest stress within the team. Wolff knows Bottas should not be there this year but Bottas is managed by a company he was until recently part owner of.

    The mistakes, promises and alliances Wolff made on his way up may be coming back to bite him. Oh what a tangled web we weave…..

  10. Today it’s easy to share an idea and reach millions of people, but it’s becoming harder and harder to share an honest opinion.
    Thanks Mr Rencken for the courage to share yours. I strongly agree with your opinion, but I’m not sure it will receive the warmest welcome from part of the paddock.

    Strategy calls are one thing, it usually involves teammates and best chances during races. But imagine one day when Russell it’s ahead of any Mercedes in an eventful race. What is he going to do when his engineer tells him the car behind is a Mercedes? Or an Aston Martin? Russell will fear for his future and just let them through without a fight? Wrong. That just wrong.

    Russell may need mentoring, maturity, penalty points, whatever. But what he doesn’t need is blackmailing. Even if disguised as a joke.

    1. There is no need to imagine, such a scenario already happened and in very similar circumstances with a young driver racing for one of Mercedes’ many supplied teams. Toto Wolff even publicly admitted that he had requested Force India tell Ocon to move over for Hamilton in Monaco 2018. Not that he had much choice, as Ocon had put him on the spot. When discussing how Hamilton was able to get by so easily, Ocon said: ‘I’m a Mercedes driver, you should ask the boss.’

  11. I have to admit I absolutely detested Wolff’s comments. Truly detested them. And happy to see that a negative response is shared elsewhere. This in particular: “Any young driver must never lose this global perspective.”
    That’s a threat. At this point I hope Russell finds a top drive elsewhere and beats whatever Mercedes is in his path, including Hamilton’s if he’s there. Why? Because Wolff has been stringing along Russell with ‘promises’ for 3 years, well aware of his talent, but now threatens him with an end to his Formula 1 career for daring to overtake a mediocre and timid driver who Wolff himself knows should never have been that far down the race order when his other driver, LH, was fighting at the front. Worse, it’s precisely that edge, bravery, willingness to push the envelope to win positions, that Mercedes need to see in Bottas and evidently know that fact. I won’t even venture into the argument of whether or not Bottas moved across unnecessarily and triggered the collision himself. Russell cannot be expected to not pass an underperforming Mercedes in his Williams because there might be damage to the Mercedes. That’s completely absurd. Any pass risks collision. So he should just hold station because Woiff has promised he might have a ‘promotion’? Anti-ethical and anti-sporting beyond belief. Apologies for the rant.

    1. very well said.
      Russel should contact Redbull and try to get a seat for 2022, Checho wont be at RB next year i bet that.

      1. Once he gets that drive I think Mercedes will remember him as a double agent.

        1. He won’t get a RB drive, Checo will continue next year. Russell will be reserve driver next year.

          1. Realistically it can’t happen. Anyway, Lando will become the Mercedes substitute once one of the Mercedes drivers miss a race.

          2. @Dave
            You really think Mercedes will overlook Russell for reserve duty because of this incident?
            After his performance last time he drove the Mercedes in Bahrain he seems like a reliable choice despite the incident at Imola.

          3. @ryanoceros Don’t mind me, I’m just counter-attacking and mocking the other guy’s cringy laughable behavior. George has my support and will be redeemed and I always wish him well every race weekend. Same with Lance, Max, Checo and Sebastian.

      2. As I wrote above @re-play, much as I tend to dislike Red Bull ‘trash-talking’ others, I now yearn for dr. Marko or Horner saying they would be happy to sign Russell like they signed Max when Merc. were reluctant to put him in one of their F1 cars :)

    2. @david-br I disagree as per my comment further down, and I just think TW is having to play politics and manage his drivers and nothing more. I’m not reading too much into his words, for I think he is mainly just needing to keep VB mentally intact for the rest of the season. I think there might sound like a lot of bark to TW’s words, but I think there is little bite. See below before I go into a diatribe lol.

      1. @robbie OK! I replied below. Actually I think that people often test out ideas in ‘jokes’ to see what effect they have. It’s important to remember Russell has no guarantees of a job at Mercedes whatever the conjectures. I’m willing to accept that maybe Wolff thinks Russell was wrong to react so strongly against VB and so needed a public rebuke. But he should never have made that rebuke in the terms he did. That was surely a mistake. And I don’t think it’s fireless smoke.

    3. @david-br I always try to think twice whenever I read Wolff’s comments or lines, because he has been one who always talks about different interpretations. While I agree that everyone should race each other the same way, if it is for position of course, I think Toto was fully mad after the race, but did not show it in the interview, and in my view, just like you said something similar above, his comments meant that Russell should not ruin his, not Mercedes’ season, by overdriving the Williams. He is probably also saying to Russell to pick your moves and battles carefully, because that is important when/if he will be in a front running car, hopefully for Mercedes.

      Maybe Wolff had a problem with his choice of words due to so much anger… I mean who would not be when you lost the race, your team had a bad pit stop, your 2 drivers, and possibly 3 drivers did not perform well and crashed… Well, Hamilton did a good recovery, but he was also lucky…

      1. @krichelle I suspect some of the anger is deflected from Bottas (who performed badly) and also derives in big part from frustration over Mercedes playing catch up and the car write-off being a real headache for Mercedes in terms of their resources for his season, as Wolff admitted. But still I think the article is right to note a creeping and potentially worrying over-influence on other teams. And the issue remains that Mercedes have three drivers for two places next season. It’s obvious Russell merits driving for a top team. Mercedes have clearly promised a future place. If Hamilton stays, surely for him to decide, then that leaves Bottas’s place. But (a) Mercedes can’t announce Russell signing and Bottas leaving without potentially damaging their own season by Bottas imploding or giving up (like, say, Vettel at Ferrari), and (b) the ‘no Russell’ rumours concerning Hamilton may be true. Whatever the case, Wolff didn’t help himself or anyone else with his remarks. There’s still a lot of the season and more such incidents (Russell v. Bottas on track) potentially to play out. Those incidents are now going to come under heavy scrutiny.

  12. Good work flagging the potential conflict of interests. I’m sure this will make uncomfortable reading for many in F1.

    1. I agree. I have never even considered this from a ‘race-fixing’ angle, but statements from Toto such as ‘especially when the car in front is a Mercedes’ makes you think. I know this kind of thing has happened in the past, with the Torro Rosso/Alpha Tauri boys needing to understand that they cannot interfere with the Red Bull’s. Toto in my opinion has too much influence on F1 at the moment, and for him to scold Russell for attempting an overtake on a driver from another teams is a fine example of how much a problem that is.

  13. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    24th April 2021, 14:20

    I’m surprised that the cap doesn’t take into account an accident or other factors that might interfere. For instance extra engine costs, extra chassis costs, should not be part of the cap and the amounts can of course be monitored. That will just penalize teams with bad reliability or bad luck.

    1. Seems indeed sensible until you remember that people have been crashing in F1 on purpose if they thought it could bring them a benefit.

  14. So what will happen to George’s GPDA position? I know that he overshot it.

    1. He is in that position because he needs to promote himself as somebody relevant in f1, which isn’t the case right now… If one day gets a good car he will fly from that position.

      1. Sorry, didn’t see that answer.

      2. he IS in thaT pOSiTIon BecAuSE hE nEeds TO PRomoTE hImseLf aS SOMeBOdY ReLeVAnt IN F1, wHiCH IsN’t tHe CAse RIgHt Now… if oNe DaY GeTS a goOD car He Will FlY frOM thaT POSITIon.

        If one day you will admit that you went too far on Russell and Norris, I won’t accept your apology. I hope you get banned for life and never come back as someone.

  15. I think this is being a bit overblown by several posters. I think TW is just being politically correct to keep VB mentally on board for the season. I think that behind closed doors he knows he is going to be replacing VB with GR next year, but for now has to put up appearances that he is more on VB’s side. Had GR gotten by VB cleanly, I cannot imagine TW using the same wording about global perspective. Global perspective to me is just a fancy way of saying GR is a Mercedes driver, and that says a mouthful about where his future lies.

    If GR had passed VB cleanly TW would have spoken about VB not having a good day, and about GR having a good day, and how a wet race can bring surprises. The combination of the collision, and afterwards neither driver admitting blame, put TW in the spot of having to walk a verbal tightrope, and ultimately side more with his driver that he has to keep intact for the rest of the season.

    I don’t believe for a second that this means TW is now power hungry and is going to dictate what GR does the rest of the season, nor will he do so with the AM drivers. I think TW is banking on the odds being slim that GR will again have the car this season to challenge VB and that VB will have such a bad day. This is what the lottery of wet races brings. And I think GR has the message now that he only has to keep it clean with VB (LH will likely never be within reach no matter the circumstances of a race), so I predict a clean rest of the season for GR wrt the Mercedes drivers, no power from TW exacted on any drivers but LH and VB, and a replacing of VB with GR for 2022.

    I think in his mind TW is thinking ‘I’ve had enough of VB, and good job GR for at least showing some stuff, just wish you had pulled the pass off cleanly.’ I think it likely TW and GR had a good chat after all was said and done, and likely ahead of George’s verbiage where he apologized for his actions after the incident, while not apologizing nor taking blame for the incident itself. That could well have been coaching from TW in play as to how to manage the situation.

    I think it key that GR didn’t take blame nor apologize for the crash itself, and I don’t think TW actually blames him for racing, in spite of his global perspective remark. TW has had to manage his drivers before, with Nico. This is not entirely new to him. He had even wanted more Nico/LH with the 2 year extension to Nico’s contract mid-2016. I haven’t a single doubt GR will be replacing VB next year.

    1. @robbie,
      the IMO unacceptable comment by Wolff stating that Russell should have done differently knowing it was a Mercedes, does nothing to “keep VB mentally on board”.
      How do you think VB feels knowing that from now on the only reason he can keep GR behind its because TW forbids the latter to race him?

      1. They create that conspiracy theories, to ratify their own opinions. Russell binned all Mercedes chances last week, and future chances with the repairs he is going to need Bottas’s car. So it’s normal Mercedes boss call him to order, he will be stupid if he didn’t do it. If he were at Toro Rosso and RedBull were destroyed by him, Marko wouldn’t be so nice as Wolff. He’s lucky he’s the spoiled brat of Mercedes.

        1. I don’t believe you lmao 🤣🤣

        2. ThEY CReATE THAT CoNSPIRAcy THEOriEs, tO rAtIfy theiR Own OpIniOns. RUSSell binNED all MErCedES chanceS LAST wEEk, and fuTURE ChANCES WIth The REpAIrs HE is Going TO NeEd boTTaS’s CAr. SO It’s norMAl MERCEDEs BosS CALl HiM tO OrdeR, he wilL Be stupID if he diDn’T dO it. iF He weRE at Toro ROSSO anD reDBull WErE destROYEd by him, mArko WOuLDN’t Be so NIce AS wOlFF. he’s LUCky he’s THE SPoIlEd Brat OF MErcEdes.

          Say that word “sPoIlEd BrAt” again and you’re dead to me.

        3. They create that baseless debunked claims, to ratify their own opinions. Enemy Alex tried to destroy Russell with his ignorant words, and now on this thread he’s constantly commenting trash. Every Single Time. You’re lucky that you have no skills for kills.

          And I found the stupid word called “sPoIlEd BrAt”. Yeah, I can’t stop killing you and I won’t stop killing you. You can’t kill me, can you, huh?

      2. @coldfly Good point that crossed my mind too when Wolff made his remark. Demanding special protection for Bottas won’t feed his confidence.

      3. @coldfly That’s a fair point and is why I said that TW will be banking on the odds being slim of GR challenging VB again. I think it would/should take another wet lottery race for that to happen, and even then what are the odds that the two of them would be in each other’s vicinity in the same way? If so, shame on VB again. But no, GR will now make it easy on him.

        Conversely, shouldn’t VB already be kicking himself for even being in that spot with which to begin? My goodness as if the repeated beatings at the hands of LH while he sits in the only other WDC capable car shouldn’t have been enough to spur him on, with season after season of talk of a VB 2.0, then surely this should spur him on? I’ll not hold my breath. He so far is only going backwards this season, and in fairness it is only 2 races.

        VB is in deep trouble if his biggest worry (I know you’re not saying biggest) is that GR now has to stay behind him by TW driver management techniques. He’s got the car and squanders it. His destiny is in his hands to show the world something far better than it coming down to fights with Williams. And here’s me, not holding my breath. GR seems far more eager and capable. VB is being swallowed up through no fault but his own.

        How do I think VB feels? Embarrassed if he’s any kind of racer at all. Ticked at himself that he has let it come to having to have a Williams driver ordered to not race him. Demotivated by TW’s words? Don’t you dare be. You’ve had all the tools. Way way more than GR. What more can TW give you VB? He’s even admonished GR when he should be admonishing you.

        1. @robbie Bottas’s issues seem to be around tyre temperatures, apparently a narrower window this season. Hamilton (sorry to go on about him again) has become the tyre maestro after many years of goading by the likes of Button in his earlier years. So races in the wet, or tracks with more traction, or being stuck in slower traffic, causes him fewer issues than Bottas. The latter makes a mistake, say, or has a poor start, and the problems snowball as he loses places, positions, heat and confidence.

          1. *tracks with less traction

      4. Exactly, lets not kid ourselves. Toto was incredibly wrong and showed some nasty colors there. Knowing this circus for over 40 years I know nothing will happen. One weekend of some journalist questions and thats it for mr Wolff. But a more ambitious FIA/Liberty would address this. The challenge is that the automobile industry is similar to banking and pharmacy, one of the most old school industries on earth. It is filled with outdated people who run businesses like its 1980. They collectively are FIA. Hence it is a circle where nothing really changes.

    2. Global perspective to me is just a fancy way of saying GR is a Mercedes driver, and that says a mouthful about where his future lies.

      Therein lies the rub. Is GR contracted to Mercedes next season? No, obviously any decision, if already ‘made’, has not been formalized. So that means all criticism about this being unfair (unethical) pressure on a junior driver to favour another team for contract promises (for good behaviour) is perfectly valid. But even if his signing had already been announced, should Russell listen? Clearly not. He has his own integrity as a driver and racer to uphold, the same with respect to Formula 1 as a whole. So I disagree @robbie, I think the content is all ‘out there’ already in the remark, it’s not about interpreting Wolff’s remarks as support for his current driver, though that may well be one dimension. It’s about the influence one team principal can have on drivers in other rival teams, and on other teams themselves, which threatens to denature Formula 1 as a competition. I think this is a much needed article by @dieterrenken as it raises some awkward questions that go beyond this incident, though they were brought to the surface in it. How much ‘loyalty’ to Mercedes customers owe to the works team on track? That’s an issue taken for granted and kind of accepted when it’s Red Bull / Alpha Tauri. But Mercedes have a bunch of customers and Wolff has now expressed that running a Mercedes engine obligates the driver to not collide with the works team’s drivers. So that really does matter.

      1. @david-br Fair comment particularly about the nuance of Dieter’s article about the power TW wields, but I still say it is far more bark than bite and far more about managing VB and GR who are truly under his wing. I think the global perspective comment is literally about his contracted driver GR, and not about the customer teams Mac and AM whose drivers are not literally under his wing even though their teams are Mercedes customers. Nor the other half of Williams that isn’t GR’s side of the garage.

        Yeah perhaps in a perfect world TW should clarify what he means, and perhaps he will ahead of the next race, but I really don’t see him suddenly thinking and acting like he can blatantly control anyone other than a driver who he has to protect for now in VB, and a driver who he is about to replace VB with in GR, both HIS drivers. This is all just about his two drivers, not his powers over customer teams.

        Perhaps he could/should clarify that, but for me it is already clear that all that has happened is he was put on a verbal/political tightrope with the unique circumstances of the last race between, of all drivers, his two. Were we really concerned about TW’s powers and how he might wield them in the paddock until he suddenly had to defend both his drivers in one sentence?

        I think he is trying to look after VB as best he can, laying this more on GR, but knowing GR’s ego will be intact in the end with a signing alongside LH for next year. I think TW has no interest in controlling what Mercedes’ customer teams drivers do.

    3. I’m wondering what someone like Horner would say if, on a damp track with a relatively narrow dry line, a young driver like Tsunoda came flying up from way behind, binned it when (say) Perez took the racing line as normal, and took out both himself and Perez.

      I suspect he’d have said that he should have exercised more caution, particularly because it was a Red Bull car he was attempting to pass.

      To me, this whole episode has been way overblown. At the end of the day, two things have happened.

      Russel has again thrown away getting points for Williams by being just that little bit too keen to make a pass.
      Bottas has again been exposed as being pretty terrible in damp conditions which has been demonstrated a few times.

      Other than that, nothing to see here, let’s move along.

      1. @dbradock I just think it is key that the players were VB and GR given the nuances of VB, I think anyway, fighting for his seat, with GR by most people’s account the heir apparent to it, in such a dominant team, under TW. Far different than Horner dealing with Perez and Tsunoda with the same incident. Sure he might have said Tsunoda needed to exercise more caution and that would have been quite mundane to what TW said, that has been the reason for a separate article by Dieter.

        And I just don’t see GR as having been too keen, but rather trying to use his head of steam to make a pass and he got spooked a bit and overreacted a bit. He was racing for it, and I don’t mind that spirit.

        Anyhoo, yeah, we’ve laid out each other’s opinions on it for sure. Been good. Be interesting to hear if TW indeed clarifies things.

      2. I can’t find the actual race weekend comments, but after the season Horner was quite philosophical about Vettel (Toro Rosso) ramming into Webber (Red Bull) at the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix, noting that on the whole the positives of their pace outweighed the outcome. Horner did note it was a race they thought they might have won, so one imagines some not fit for tv things were said on the pitwall.

  16. Russell has a contract with Williams. He must fulfill his obligation to Williams 1st. Then his overtake is correct from Williams perspective. This is blackmail disguise as joke.

    1. There is no such thing as an unbreakable contract in F1.

      1. But there’s double agents, sabotages and inside jobs though.

  17. After Russell’s stellar performance in the Mercedes last year, bungled by the team though, Bottas should have been shown the door this year and Russell promoted. But Hamilton obviously objected to it. A potential multiple champion’s career is wasting in a back-of-the grid team, while a mediocre driver is shaming a world champion team. Lewis Hamilton is known for his awareness of justice. Isn’t he concerned about the injustice of this situation?

    1. I don’t trust the veto rumours. Anyway, I’d like to see Norris as the Mercedes substitute.

      1. James Coulee
        24th April 2021, 16:21

        The way I see Hamilton’s career, he will never (and never did) forgo any opportunity that will give him any sort of advantage (sporting, political or psychological): that’s a champion’s mindset, though.

        Pairing with a driver that would regularly challenge to steal him point is not desirable in that regard: Bottas basically gets the points when something happens to Hamilton, otherwise he’ll be behind him.

        1. I agree. It’s not always his best trait. A typical example was praising Vettel as his ‘favourite competitor’ just when Alonso is coming back and, more importantly, he knows he faces Verstappen this season. And of course it’s a backhanded putdown of VB however honest it was. I mean, there’s nothing really in it, but he can’t resist some psychological provocation, it’s part of his DNA as a driver. Clearly Russell’s performance in the Mercedes was perceived by Hamilton as a major threat. And Wolff can’t be uninfluenced by the impact it had on Hamilton, he must still trying to be contain it (and use it to his own advantage where need be).

          1. So Hams ‘rival’ as compared to the Senna v Prost or MS v Mika, is not LH v Seb; but Ham v Alonso or Ham v Max?
            Because that was the context of the question.

          2. I’m not quite sure I follow you Ian. Anyhow, I think Rosberg is missing and he was actually probably his most consitently difficult single rival, more so even than Alonso, though he’s unlikely to ever admit it, while Ferrari 2008 (Massa and Raikkonen together) was probably the biggest challenge, especially at that stage in his career, as shown by the narrowness of the eventual win. TBH I think Hamilton always had Vettel beat psychologically after the Baku incident in 2017.

          3. I can see Hamilton honestly thinking that. Hamilton and Vettel were in the same title battle in 2010, 2012, 2017 and 2018. Their careers are inextricably linked. Unfortunately for us fans, their respective titles weren’t more spread out, and in the end it just ended up being Vettel’s run, followed by Hamilton’s even longer run.

        2. In previous years, Mercedes was so mighty, they could afford to give Bottas a break and have Hamilton drive second on a few of the races.

          With Redbull being so much closer they cant afford that same luxery and so Mercedes have to place its bets on its number one, leaving Bottas performance and credibility some what exposed. He needs to see as his challengers everyone after verstappen and push harder, otherwise come next season he may find he’s without a seat in F1.

          This season is going to be brutal for egos.

    2. Stellar performance… Remember me what was his result in the top car?

      1. I don’t think we can tell you the result in the top car, or what we all call Mercedes.

          1. May be you don’t even remember… hehehehehe Like me i forgot it completely, I only remember it was the worst race of the season for the person driving that number 44 car.

          2. I will answer myself, I just check the f1 page to see how he finished. Ladies and gentleman, the super stellar performance:
            1) Sergio Perez
            2) Ocon
            3) Stroll
            8) Bottas +15 seconds.
            9) Russellado +18.5 seconds.

            Stellar, 9 position with the best car on the grid.
            Come on! don’t lie to people with fake words! Everybody can check the results, and what happened in your head, isn’t the real thing, is just your imagination.

          3. Wait everyone missed your comments? XD

          4. Guess you can stop talking now. I can’t trust your words XD And I laugh every time you say “conspiracy” XD because I don’t trust them XD

          5. Alex, those comments seem very childish and also coming from someone who doesn’t watch races, russel’s performance was enough to be considered a top driver that race and enough to scare hamilton to come back with covid and underperform the next race.

          6. @esploratore yep, he can’t chill.


          8. sTELLaR, 9 PoSItION WIth THE BesT CAr on the gRID.
            come on! DOn’t lie TO peoPle WIth FaKE wOrdS! EveryBOdY CAn cHeck thE Results, aND wHAt HaPPENed IN youR HeAD, isN’T tHe rEaL tHinG, IS JuST yOur imAGInATiON.



          10. Maybe you don’t even know how to kill me Enemy Alex…hahahahaha like me I can kill you in one second, I only remember your negativity against a few drivers that you are openly pessimistic of.

            Killed you and killed you and killed you and killed you and killed you and killed you and killed you and killed you and killed you and killed you and killed you and killed you and killed you and killed you and killed you and killed you again.

        1. Something went wrong at Mercedes, that’s the truth. Anyway, Imola was an inside job.

      2. 9th, something went wrong with the pit crew and it was the truth! XD

      3. Daily reminder: You failed to kill me.

      4. Stellar attempt to try to kill Russell…What was your behaviour last year? Why? Well, I will answer them myself, because your behaviour makes you so trash that you are trying to get Russell killed.

        Austrian GP 2020: You said the stupid word about Max that I strongly condemn.
        Imola GP 2020: You said that Russell won’t get support because he crashed under safety car.
        Sakhir GP 2020: You said the stupid word about Max that I strongly condemn.
        Imola GP 2021: You are constantly name calling Russell, and you know what? I killed you.

        There you go. Killed again and again. I won’t stop killling you, am I?

    3. So someone who had no contract for this year (Ham) vetoed Mercedes from signing Russell and sacking Bottas? And Mercedes were going to pay off both the Russell contract with Williams and Bottas contract with Merc?

    4. Hamilton with Russell as his wingman in a totally new car doesn’t bare thinking about. Little wonder Hamilton has only signed a one year extension. Perhaps Hamilton is wondering what he would be letting himself in for, as his final legacy years at Mercedes.

      Russell is as good as he believes he is, he’ll be going all out to prove it, much like Hamilton did when he was a junior to Alonso.

      1. Steering conversations to slag off Hamilton with pure speculations do not reflect well on fans of this publication. GR wasn’t that great. He may think so after being flattered so highly last year. The fact remains only William wants him.

        On TW’s comment – he may or may not be wrong uttering his views. The incident somewhat cemented GR’s reputation as fast but prone to throwing away chances driver. Him approaching Bottas to make a point, not to enquire if his fellow driver was OK after such a heavy incident, made worldwide viewers reconsidered his characters. His immediate comment afterward blamed Bottas and lacked self-reflection. It was only after supposedly internal pressures, perhaps included from TW, or his F1 mentors, did he apologise.

        Note how friendly the “exclusive interview” written here a few days ago. The last 2 paragraphs of that piece read like a PR piece for GR. Echoing other posters about Asian or South American drivers – it is doubtful they will get such friendly pieces or comments.

        Criticising TW’s comment about GR having to have global perspective has some traction amongst other opinions. And it is curious to dedicate the whole paragraph to note how lucky Hamilton was in benefitting from the crash. Surely other drivers in similar circumstances would benefit too. Going back to GR, he was clumsy in his overtaking and appeared to be spooked by Bottas’ driving line. At best, still a lot to learn? At worst, he was overrated?

        1. Didn’t you try to kill me in another article? It failed, didn’t it? Please check it again.

  18. It’s interesting the words Wolff used with regards to Russell, he’s effectively been setup as the fall guy if Mercedes have issues next year.

    “That £1m crash cost us development for the car”

  19. In case anyone is wondering, inter-team collusion is against Article 151c of the Sporting Regulations. It has been used against McLaren and Williams following their doing so in Jerez 1997 (namely, Williams asked McLaren to win slowly in return for gifting a win).

    By speaking in the manner indicated by this article, Toto is putting himself at risk of accusations of bringing F1 into disrepute.

      1. @alianora-la-canta While I get why you’re going there, I think for several reasons there is no real comparison in reality.

        Note that it is Dieter that is hinting at the power TW potentially wields over not just VB and GR for obvious reasons, but theoretically AM and Mac. Let’s throw in Williams in general too, not just GR. However, at no point is TW himself bringing up or exercising said power. The global perspective comment he made is about GR, his Mercedes junior driver.

        As well, TW didn’t order GR in any way ahead of Imola. Obviously had he, or at least GR’s obeying assumed, the incident would not have happened. As well, is TW literally saying GR is to never race a Mercedes? Note that he is speaking specifically about a wet track and the risk that GR was taking, claiming it was too much of a risk and therefore he should have kept his global perspective about him…again…given the risk of the specific track conditions and for the specific circumstances with VB.

        Comparing that to Jerez 97, where no collusion was proven, there were only suspicions, and testimony from Coulthard for example, and nobody was penalized for collusion, and the Championship was not effected, there is no real comparison to the topic at hand. There has been no collusion with GR ahead of Imola, and no threat to him for the coming season other than to keep his Mercedes junior driver status in mind if somehow there comes another wet track risky situation of him coming upon VB with a head of steam. The odds of GR being in the position of racing VB again this season are very slim even without the global perspective in mind.

        While I think it is fair to bring up and discuss TW’s power in F1, and ask for clarity from him about his wording, ultimately I think this is much ado about nothing and TW is not looking to collude with anyone, and only wants his junior driver to not take out one of his senior drivers…especially not to risk it in tricky conditions.

        1. @robbie Your second paragraph underlines my point even more thoroughly. The more persuasive power one team is believed to hold over another, the more heavily the FIA can punish collusion (which something like this is under the regulations). There is obvious comparison to Jerez 1997, where collusion was confirmed after the FIA’s initial decision about it and, at this point, only Max Mosley appears to still believe otherwise.

          Also, it was used against McLaren and Williams, and there’s more than a suspicion that the two Concorde Agreement rebels had this happen to them for psuedopolitical reasons – not only because of the rebellion, but in the hope of lending more credibility to a judgment against Michael Schumacher for hitting Jacques Villenueve in the same race not including a punishment he was likely to care about such as disqualification from any events in 1998. So saying Jerez 1997 was a situation where “nobody was penalized for collusion, and the Championship was not effected” doesn’t hold water. It was affected, in the ways the FIA wanted it to be affected on that occasion.

          1. @alianora-la-canta The point in my second paragraph is that TW is not wielding any power over anyone but GR, and while Dieter is bringing up the potential power TW has, the FIA seems unconcerned that I’m aware of. This is hardly a collusion issue. TW has not suggested let alone ordered Mac, AM, and Williams to not race Mercedes, but he has asked GR to exercise caution in risky situations, as a Mercedes junior driver, to not take out a Mercedes works driver. That’s about the only power TW actually has and would use, imho, is that over ‘his’ drivers, just as he had to sit LH and NR down on occasion.

          2. @robbie The point is that GR is in a team other than Toto’s own, which according to the regulations means that negatively influencing his permission to race is inter-team collusion.

            The FIA often doesn’t care about things that its Statutes say it’s required to care about, so that means nothing.

          3. @alianora-la-canta Hard to argue that point I admit, even though I have tried lol, and I would just say that to me it is small potatoes in reality, whereas yes you’ve presented the on-paper legalese aspect of it. TW has made a general statement regarding GR, but not a specific demand to ‘fix’ shall we say a specific race, and as I have said TW is likely assuming fairly safely that the odds are quite slim of GR racing VB again such is their vast car difference. Of course the FIA would care and would intervene if they caught TW in a blatant measure to actually fix a race, but that TW has even stated publicly his comments that you find in breach, means to me in fact they are not in breach of anything. Sure, they hint of something, but there is nothing here saying that TW is going to order GR whose from another team, to help him fix a win or a Championship for Mercedes. We all know this stems from GR being under TW’s wing, which gives TW some leeway to make the comment that he did, as much as it seems biased or skewed. I think the FIA would have no basis to suspect, in spite of TW’s comments, that he is going to take and wield his power so far that it affects the Championship, or has.

          4. @robbie As far as I am concerned, it’s worse than that – Toto appears to have sought to fix every single race George does while he remains a Mercedes protege and isn’t in a Mercedes. Assuming anything about relative race speeds is folly when making the sort of sweeping instruction Toto made.

            Perhaps because for you it’s a hint and for me it’s practically neon-highlighted.

          5. @alianora-la-canta For me it is nothing more than TW managing his drivers in the same way he would if LH and VB clashed, and as how he had to manage LH and NR on occasion when they clashed. For me, no need to bring in the draconian race fixing concept, and the odds of VB being in the position of being passed by GR again are slim. The odds are that if that happens again it will not be because GR has the car to be racing in the points let alone the high points, and it will have been because VB finds himself again out of the points, in which case, what race fixing are we really taking about of any real consequences? GR will be more cautious to not hit a VB that is not racing for many points if any? As I say, small potatoes. ‘Sweeping instruction?’ Nah that’s way overthinking it, imho of course. They likely won’t be near each other again on the track this season unless VB is passing GR as a backmarker. Even on another rainy day the odds of the two of them clashing again is slim. And then next year VB will be off the team and GR will be in that seat, doing more with it than VB does.

          6. @robbie If the first sentence you said is true, that is itself a slam-dunk penalty for breach of Article 151c for attempted inter-team collusion with intent to race-fix.

            Toto’s allowed to manage Bottas and Hamilton like that, because all three of them are with the same entrant (Mercedes).

            Toto, Bottas and Russell are not all in the same entrant. Two of them (Toto and Valtteri) are with Mercedes One of them (Russell) is with Williams.

            Strictly speaking, Toto has no entrant management rights whatsoever over Russell, the way he does over Bottas or Hamilton. He can quietly advise Russell on the matter due to being his driver manager, but it has to be the same advice as he’d give if the driver whose car he’d hit was Verstappen, Leclerc, Ocon or Giovanazzi. It’s not allowed to be different due to his being involved at Mercedes, because that’s going back to collusion. It would also have to be the same advice he’d give to a driver who he managed that was on track for a potential Red Bull or Ferrari seat rather than a Mercedes one, because modifying it in that way would also be going back to collusion.

            Managers who cannot separate their duties to their entry and their duties to a driver who isn’t in their entry are expected to cease one of those duties.

          7. @alianora-la-canta And again, I think you are taking this to the nth degree. Is anyone within F1 really concerned? I’d be happy to take in anything anyone within F1 has to say on the specific matter.

          8. Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta)
            1st May 2021, 11:00

            @robbie And again, that is not how regulations work. Your attitude is apparently “Anyone can break whatever rule they like, and do whatever harm to F1 they like, so long as nobody with the power to do anything about it says anything within a handful of days – even though the powers-that-be are allowed until mid-December of any given year to respond”. I’m sure you can see the problem with that approach, now I’ve spelt it out.

          9. @alianora-la-canta Your assumption of my attitude is ridiculous as is your assumption that a rule has been broken. The only thing you’ve spelled out is that you are grasping at straws.

          10. Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta)
            1st May 2021, 20:57

            @robbie My statement of your assumptions was made after you ruled out all other interpretations of your position.

            Since you have forgotten that words mean something here, and you have resorted to lying in the hope of salvaging your position, I hope you won’t mind that this conversation will end here.

          11. @alianora-la-canta I needn’t be accused of salvaging my position when I’m right and you are the lone wolf on this topic. I could perhaps see something in your argument if there was any evidence anyone within F1 shared it wrt TW breaking a rule.

  20. Difficult to understand Wolff’s (over) reaction, but the last time he lost it in the same way was when Rosberg hit his driver Hamilton in Spa ’14.

    Since he’s Russell’s manager and surely the ‘mentor’ Russell was praising in the interview here, I guess the whole ting was in reality to teach Russell a lesson to never ever get ‘feudy’, and to learn his place against higher ranked Mercedes drivers since this will be the needed mindset with both Hamilton and Verstappen when he goes to the big team.

    1. He really lost it when the 2016 collisions happened if I’m right.

      1. Nothing like Spa where he was livid. After Spain it was just matter-of-fact ‘they shouldn’t do it’ for the record.

        And as with chairman Lauda who had Hamilton come to his house in Ibiza to patch up any ill-feeling following the event (but not Rosberg), I bet it was more or less the same with Wolff. The now famous Mercedes’ ‘values’ is obviously a clear no. 1 and 2 driver, and I guess that’s the message Wolff wants to instill in Russell now. To not go outside his station.

  21. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    24th April 2021, 22:01

    I’ve been concerned for a while at the empire Toto is building. I think he will be the next Bernie.

  22. Mark in Florida
    24th April 2021, 22:03

    My opinion Bottas is a lackey, Russell is a racer. Therefore George doesn’t naturally have the ” global” perspective that Wolff wants. George would actually try to race Hamilton and Toto can’t have that it would mess up his management style and put mental stress on him. Totos been stringing George along and used him to undercut Lewis’s salary when he let George drive for him. That’s over now, he will keep that mediocre Bottas in the seat and leave George to languish at Williams. People thought Fabio was bad just wait for the book to be written about Toto. Remember this is the same guy who forced Brawn out after Brawn did all the hard work, Toto stepped in and scooped the success. Mercedes will eventually implode at some point.

    1. @Mark in Florida Please explain how Wolff forced Brawn out of Mercedes. Sources would be appreciated.

      1. ColdFly (@)
        25th April 2021, 7:49

        I suggest you read Total Competition: Lessons in strategy from Formula 1 by Brawn//Parr.

        Or at least this article: https://www.racefans.net/2016/10/19/brawn-lost-trust-in-wolff-and-lauda/

        1. @coldfly Thanks for the link, very interesting. I will try to track down the book. I wonder if Brawn finally has the free time to go fishing every so often, or if he is as busy as ever?

          1. @ferrox-glideh Pre-COVID, Ross did get time to go fishing occasionally, from what I understand – though I reckon it was pretty occasionally during the pre-COVID part of his Liberty stint due to all the travel. There was a gap in between where he had opportunity to fish a lot (though I don’t know how much he used it).

    2. Mark in Florida thats a whole lot of rhetoric that I quite disagree with. Oh I don’t argue what Brawn said of the situation for him there, but I think you are way off base. Amongst all the rhetoric I disagree with, let’s recall that TW had re-signed Nico in mid-2016 for two more years of the LH/NR rivalry. TW had a challenging management task on his hands, but he was ready, willing, and able to take it on. He’ll do it again, and I envision it this way. Let’s say Mercedes still remains the team to beat this year. Next year is a clean slate and a perfect time to elevate GR alongside LH with LH as his mentor, GR the heir apparent. I think there could easily be that kind of respectful dynamic there. Let’s say Mercedes gets beaten and has to strive to get back to being the benchmark next year. All the more reason to take on the more aggressive GR to take back those top two spots on the grid where VB falters. GR is TW’s new man for next year and what better time when GR is out of contract at Williams, and when he can be brought in when continuity with drivers is less key since the new cars are going to be so different anyway. He’ll want GR there from pre-season testing to mould him to them, and they to him. I can’t think of a single reason to keep VB next year and leave GR languishing at Williams. But hey, good for me as a Max/RBR fan, for if TW does as you say, Mercedes will be all the weaker for it.

      1. @robbie Good points- You articulated my misgivings with the above comment better than I could, thanks!
        The vilifying of Toto Wolff over an off the cuff comment does seem a bit rich. Russell is going to be the next in line for the seat beside Hamilton, surely. Bottas was given a very hard task, and did okay, but it’s time to sharpen the cutting edge, as Wolff surely knows. Next year is going to be epic.

  23. For the record, I think this circuit and the wet conditions shows the Mercedes, for all its raw power, is far from a perfect package.

    Bottas’ predestrian tour shows he had no confidence in the traction, ie the rear end handling of that car.
    At the same time Hamilton’s misjudgement has to seen as simiarly based.

    I think last year’s car, in these conditions, would have seen both drivers doing much better.

    Mercedes still have room to improve the car’s handling and hopefully we’ll see them meet that challenge.

  24. Very good article, I was shocked to hear Wolff statement and the commentators lack of reactions… the conflict of interests is palpable, and the guy has no shame to claim that his drivers shall refrein from challenging the Mercs… Btw, someone might remember how Ocon at the (moneyless) Force India was always ready to crash & fight with whoever, particularly with his teammate,…but also ready to step aside to let a Mercedes pass…

  25. I just believe too much was read into Wolff’s comments.
    Race hard = Take risks.
    Russell took what turned out to be an unnecessary risk because it cost Mercedes a lot. Had Russell executed the overtake, there would not have been that interview. Bottas could have suffered serious injuries, so any team boss would be angry at what happened.

    1. Russell took what turned out to be an unnecessary risk because it cost Mercedes a lot.

      Russell is racing for Williams and going for that last point is never unnecessary, @OOliver.

      1. @coldfly It is if you don’t get the point ;)

        1. @alianora-la-canta,
          I get your point that it was in the end pointless to go for the point as he did not get that point.
          Though, I pointedly wanted to point out that IMO the comment missed the point that Russell is driving for a different team which would gain a point had the overtake stuck.
          Pointing out that the result did not work out that way is a pointed reminder that racing others comes with a risk. And even though the overtake attempt resulted to be pointless, my point remains that going for that point was never pointless.
          It would be pointless to follow the car home in eleventh (full stop)

  26. Hello I’m new here, what is everyone up to

  27. Lets swap cars. Imagine Bottas etc was actually Russell in his William’s. And Hamilton performed the same manouevre on Russell…. GET OUT OF THE WAY GEORGE. We can see who people will blame.

  28. ian dearing
    25th April 2021, 9:11

    One wonders why the one wonders story didn’t include the other Merc customer team. Slowing down in the corners because the third year driver McLaren suddenly starts hitting something with his knee the moment Ham gets behind him.
    If you are going to go full tin foil surely there’s a place for this?

    1. lol, that’s one of the most pathetic attempts at a bash I’ve seen, even for a Hamilton fan.

    2. ian dearing My guess is that because this was the least of Aston Martin’s problems last race, the whole situation was assumed to be Aston Martin’s inability to get out of its own way, to the chagrin of everyone involved.

  29. Very valid points raised by Dieter, and I totally agree that Toto was out of line to criticise Russell for trying to get some points for his team, regardless of how ill-considered the move may have been. Given that he is, in fact, driving for Williams, why should he consider Mercedes’ losses? And if Toto Wolff feels that he has the power to influence how another team races, there is something very wrong with F1.

  30. The more I think about this the more concerned I become. If Wolff will speak like this in front of TV cameras what goes on behind the scenes?

    Who is pulling whose strings? Are we seeing real racing throughout or are punches being pulled?

  31. I should have said I cannot let this comment go

  32. Moon Mullins
    25th April 2021, 18:10

    Thank you Dieter for the best reporting on this incident. Terrific job explaining F1 the commoner cannot see from the couch or trackside. I certainly hope your 21 year F1 journalist credentials are safe. Great job!

  33. Each and every one of both Mercedes and Williams are a bunch of traitors.


  35. This didn’t age well

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