Hamilton “decided not to bail out any more” in fights with Verstappen – Wolff

2021 Russian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff expects the collisions between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen will continue as the Mercedes driver has become less willing to back down.

The two championship contenders made contact at the Italian Grand Prix two weeks ago and the British Grand Prix prior to that.

There were near-misses between the pair previously at Imola and the Circuit de Catalunya earlier this year. Wolff said Hamilton had resolved to be less accommodating towards his rival following those two close encounters.

“I think the change of approach is that Lewis pretty much decided not to bail out any more when he thinks that the corner is his,” said Wolff.

Both drivers therefore need to be prepared to back down when fighting with each other if they fail to win the corner, he added.

“It needs two to tango, it needs two to understand each other on track when a collision can be avoided. They are in the cars, we have no influence on the driving. They will know much better than we how the other one is racing and it’s interesting to watch.”

However he suspects further incidents involving the pair are likely over the remainder of the season.

“I think they pretty much know what they do. In my opinion if they both wanted to avoid collisions, we would have less collisions.

“If they don’t avoid collisions because they feel it’s right to not bail out or not give room, then we will have more. We are not sitting in the cars.”

Despite the growing intensity in the rivalry between Hamilton and Verstappen, Wolff believes the two championship rivals still have respect for each other.

“The very good ones recognise the other very good ones,” he said. “And therefore, from a driving standpoint there will be a lot of respect with each other, like with some others on track.

“The personalities are very different, the lives are very different but that has no interference on the respect of the ability of the other guy in the car.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2021 Russian Grand Prix

Browse all 2021 Russian Grand Prix articles

Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

32 comments on “Hamilton “decided not to bail out any more” in fights with Verstappen – Wolff”

  1. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    24th September 2021, 13:14

    Didn’t he decide that at Silverstone? And I resulted him crashing a driver out?

    1. No, I think in Spain where the get out of the way or crash attitude bragging from RB was at its height, Ham got out of the way of Max’s ‘get out of the way or crash’ move, and the poison dwarf said along the lines of ‘Ham had a choice of get out of the way or barriers’ Ham was considering it.
      I think in Silverstone that was more Max throwing his advantage out of Brooklands away, and then leaving the door wide open in Copse. What driver wouldn’t take that opportunity if it was gifted to them?

      1. The opportunity to crash the other driver out? His front wheel hit verstappen’s rear wing, surely that means he wasn’t sufficiently ahead!

    2. @come-on-kubica Yes, and now he’s promised it will continue

      1. And in Monza we noticed how successful his “new” approach is.

    3. Lewis was bailing out in Silverstone, actually. He was backing off relative to Max, who just turned in too hard, to early and to hot. Unfortunately it lead to a touch at the rear and round Max went.

      1. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
        24th September 2021, 21:03

        @david-beau this is narrative that Hamilton didn’t cause the crash needs to end. No more Mercedes kool-aid. He got a penalty that’s the end of it. Hamilton went too hot into the corner and made a mistake.

  2. He still doesn’t get it, does he? Quite hilarious for a multiple WDC

    1. Doesn’t get what? The situation is exactly as Wolff describes. I don’t think even any neutral doubts that. You can’t applaud Max for competing for every 50/50, which is indeed exciting to see, but then question that another driver decides to do the same against him rather than let him take the corner (or else they collide). The fact is that Hamilton over recent years had developed a more cautious approach, especially on the first lap, since he felt assured he could gain positions through a faster car and/or better tyre management. He honed that quite specifically to beat Bottas (and maybe Verstappen or Ferrari before that when they were quick). But this season he’s faced with an equal or faster Red Bull-Max combination. Recovering the position isn’t assured, as he’s found out. So obviously he’s switched tactic and decided to fight more for those overtakes or defend more strongly – specifically against Max. Like I said, what bit doesn’t Hamilton ‘get’? Do you even have a reasoned or reasonable argument to make? Maybe you’re just not capable of one. Probably the case.

      1. He doesn’t get that it has nothing to do with ‘bailing out’. It is about who better positions his car icw the racing rules of engagement. Max is simply sharper. Both get togethers were Lewis fault as he either intentionally puts his car in the wrong position or was unable to get his car in the right position. Make no mistake, if Lewis would have positioned his car better both cars would have easily made both corners and there would be no ‘bailing out’ or whatever that is. If you then subsequently regard it as matter of bailing out or not, you reduce great battling to a testosterone thing. And robs us of seeing more great battling in the process. As I said before, Lewis is one of the greats but is rusty from leading from the front for many years. He didn’t have to battle his way through the field in years. The only wheel to wheel he got in 3 years was with a team mate. So I expect him to up his game with every new encounter.

        1. So your ‘doesn’t get it’ relies on ignoring the stewards and anyone; including those within the sport, who sees it differently than you.
          Seems you are just another ‘get out of my way or crash’ supporter who is now slowly stepping back from that stance.

          1. Imagine an anonymous keyboard warrior boldly proclaiming that a multiple time F1 champion who proved himself in lower categories and earned himself a seat at Mclaren alongside the reigning WDC “doesn’t get racing”. The level of disrespect on thes forums… :-)

          2. Why so personal? I am arguing Max is simply a better drivrr that raises the bar. Lewis needs to catch up so they dont crash again. Again, there was no reason to crash. Both times it happened only because Lewis couldnt accept he was outsmarted. Wrt stewards.. Do you really think they are capable of judging situations properly. They’ve been the wrong set/flavor of people for a long time and 99% on this forum knows this

        2. Well thanks for having a go at explaining yourself. I don’t see any real proof in your argument as far as this year’s incidents go, though: it’s not a questioning of Max positioning his car better on track (both he and Lewis excel there). It really is a question of a game of chicken, who will bail out first.

      1. Get red cards! That’s the only thing I know!

    2. Max threw away 36 points (at least) between Silverstone and Monza. He went from a 38 point lead to a 5 point lead.

      Are you sure Hamilton’s the one who doesn’t get it?

      1. And all those points lost without any fault by Verstappen.
        Interesting to see how you spin this narrative..

  3. No driver with wdc aspirations backs off. So nothing new. So expect more contacts.

    1. It’s about being clever and picking your moments. Sometimes the best option is to back out and live to fight another day. At Silverstone and Monza, I think both drivers knew that was their one and only chance to get past so they were happy to make contact.

  4. Drivers only back out when they are reasonably assured they will finish the race in an acceptable place.

  5. Wolfe is just acknowledging what everyone should have understood anyway.

    The only thing that matters is whether yielding the corner will improve their standing in the world driver’s championship.

    In Silverston Hamilton backed out of corners where he was on the outside, and didn’t back out of the corner where he was on the inside. It worked well for him.

    In Monza Hamilton knew if Verstappen passed him he would lose WDC points. He also knew if they took each other out in that corner Verstappen would get the penalty.

    Verstappen I’m less sure about, but I suspect he figured he has penalty points to give and ending both their races was an acceptable outcome.

    I think the only variable is their discipline. Less occasionally car control. We’ll see how they hold up over the rest of the season

    1. @slotopen

      I think that you are overthinking this and that neither driver thought that or was planning to collide.

  6. For me the route cause of this is the 2 rules that say “you are entitled to space” and “you must leave a cars width at the edge of the track”. In the case of where Schumi nearly put Ruben’s into the wall in Hungary on the pit straight these 2 rules are fair as Rubens was far enough alongside to be given space as they were both driving in a straight line. Where we see the issues (and i might be spliting hairs here) is that a corner has an entry speed, a apex speed and a exit speed. If we look at the Spain collision bewtween Hamilton and Rosberg, Hamilton never had any part of his car alongside Rosberg and as such Rosberg did 1 continuous movement over the width of the race track to defend his position. Hamilton should have realised that the gap was disappearing and backed out.

    If you imagine, as Martin Brundle says, a concrete wall around the outside of the track, in Silverstone Max was super aggressive on his turn in point to copse had the inner wall been concrete Max probably wouldn’t have squeezed quite so much, however there was room for Hamilton to turn a tighter line but meaning to do so it would mean slowing to make the corner.

    In Monza, the first lap incident Max defended right from the apex and went over to the edge of the track and no way for Hamilton to get through, had there been a wall Hamilton wouldn’t have tried to go round the outside as he did, he would have tried again later. The first corner accident, had Hamilton have done the same thing as Max and defended from the apex to the edge of the track then that would have been fine, as the concrete wll would have forced Max to try again later, but he left room for Max to get the car alongside. If a concrete wall was there and Hamilton left the gap he did he would of had to have given room to Max as Max had put his car in the gap. Now here for me is the point. Max has the room to put his car into that gap, but if a concrete wall is on the insaide and outside of the track how are 2 cars getting through there? Just because a car is up the inside he is not entitled to go up the inside cos he can cause an accident.

    If you look at a GP2 accident at Azerbijan, Theo Porchaire slip streamed Lawson and was alongside into turn 3. Dan Ticktum was tucked up under Porchaire’s wing and went wide to overtake thus putting them 3 wide into a 90 degree turn. From lawson’s POV he knew Porchaire had the place but couldn’t see Ticktum on the inside. From Porchaire’s POV he has the place on Lawson but with Ticktum there cant turn until Ticktum does. Ticktum is so tight to the barrier he cannot make the turn unless Porchaire gives him space which Porchaire won’t get as Lawson will start to turn to make the corner cos he doesn’t know they are 3 wide. Porchaire gives Ticktum as much space as he can but gets collected by Lawson as he turns in. Ticktum overtakes both with no contact made. Under review the stewards rule that he should never have gone 3 wide cos he knows that corner cannot take 3 cars wide. He should have followed Porchaire past lawson through on the inside.

    The ruling of entitled to space has been taken by drivers to mean stuff it up the inside of a driver and then claim foul if they are touched, but this seems to take away the common sense of how on a tighter line are you taking the same speed into the corner, carrying the same speed through the apex and then a tighter line on exit? For me it needs drivers to think if there is a concrete wall there on inside and outside of the corner how would i position my car to either defend or overtake.

  7. The phrasing is different, but I believe this is exactly what Rosberg meant when he said he was ‘making a point’ after he made contact with Hamilton in Spa 2014. It was a poor choice of words because obviously people jumped on that as meaning it was intentional, but it wasn’t. It was just him refusing to back out in the battles because he was tired of being bullied off track. Now the situation is reversed, and Hamilton is the one who is ‘making a point’ by deciding not to bail out any more when his opponent risks contact. It will be interesting to see how this plays out the next time they go wheel to wheel, especially as we get closer to the end of the season, though it’s unlikely to happen this weekend of course.

    1. @keithedin. Finally… This is spot on. It’s all about who is the alpha male of Formula 1

  8. So Lewis is setting his hopes on crashes that allow him to continue while Max cannot?

    So far he’s 1 for 2 on that, and it allowed him to close the points gap but didn’t put him ahead. And I imagine Max will take this into account much like he did in Monza.

  9. It’s interesting and telling that this article and these quotes are about LH having to decide to bail out or not, ie. he’s been the trailing driver more often than not. That he is tired of bailing out simply confirms that he is the one on the hind foot. If he decides not to bail out he is going against the very thing he expects of his opponents when he squeezes them the same way Max learned to do from watching the likes of LH do it. As confirmed by the stewards many times throughout the years, at a point the leading driver, as long as he has left space initially, can force the trailing drivers hand into either backing off, going off, or colliding. If LH, who obviously is the subject of concern here as the one tired of backing off, the one generally trailing, decides collisions are better than backing off or going off, just as he has forced many to make the same choices, that’s on him.

    1. Hey @robbie!
      I haven’t read your take on the Monza incident. Verstappen was the trailing driver and he caused the collision (he was penalized for it by the stewards). Do you agree that he was at fault?

      Besides, Keith Campbell is making a great point: Hamilton is just emulating Rosberg here. I know you were Rosberg supporter at the time (as far as I have read your comments, you never appreciated Hamilton), do you share this view?

      1. Hey @x303 As much as I hoped the stewards would rule it a racing incident, when they didn’t I accepted their ruling and their reasoning and their penalty. It by extension left LH with a bit of the blame too, even if unsaid by the stewards, as with Silverstone. It was LH fans that happily pointed out after Silverstone that Max shared some blame since LH was ruled predominantly but not wholly to blame, and they of course ignored LH’s share of the blame at Monza when Max was ruled predominantly but not wholly responsible.

        As to Keith Campbell’s post I agree completely, it was well said above, and is exactly what I argued at the time. Nico did not hit LH intentionally but was being intentionally stubborn. Same with LH lately.

        1. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions @robbie!
          I agree with you that both drivers share the blame in both incidents. Hopefully no one is gonna get hurt in the reminder of the season (because these two will crash again…).

    2. Sharp, and probably something all Lewis “fans” missed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.