Angry Wolff slates stewards’ “laughable” call not to investigate Verstappen-Hamilton incident

2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

[raceweekendpromotion]Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff strongly criticised the stewards for failing to investigate an incident between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen during the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

Wolff said the stewards’ decision not to investigate whether Verstappen broke the rules when he and Hamilton went off at turn four on lap 48 was an example of how “the whole weekend went against us”.

Hamilton had already suffered a serious setback when he was excluded from qualifying after his rear wing failed a test of its Drag Reduction System. Wolff insisted the wing only failed the test because it was damaged.

The team’s feeling things were going against them “really peaked with the decision in the race” said Wolff. Verstappen ran wide at turn four while Hamilton was trying to pass him on the outside. The Mercedes driver reached the corner ahead, but went off the track with his rival, and emerged behind.

The stewards noted the incident but decided against investigating it. Wolff said the manoeuvre clearly merited a penalty.

“It was a really strong defence for Max, absolutely an inch over the limit,” he said. “But he needed to do that to defend and Lewis just managed it even more brilliantly by avoiding the contact and end the race that way.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

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

Wolff said his objection to the incident was not that it involved hard racing, but that the decision not to examine it was inconsistent with past precedents.

“Whatever is in the director’s notes, we are going to accept,” he said. “I’m also okay if the director’s notes are being shredded and we just race hard like we did today, fine.

“But if the directors’ notes say that you can’t push anybody off the track in Mexico and then obviously that’s valid here too and you’re actually being driven off the track, it’s just not very consistent, to call it that way.”

Part of Wolff’s exchange with FIA race director Michael Masi was broadcast during television coverage of the race.

“My discussion with the race director was not broadcasted, but my reaction was,” he said. “And we’re clear that we’ll discuss it behind closed doors.”

The Mercedes team principal vowed to take a tougher stance in the future. “We’ve had many, many punches in the face this weekend with decisions that could have swung either side, against us or for us. But when all the decisions swing against you, it’s just something that I’m just angry about.

“I will defend my team, my drivers to what comes. I’ve been always very diplomatic how I discussed things, but diplomacy has ended today.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix

Browse all 2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix articles

Author information

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.

67 comments on “Angry Wolff slates stewards’ “laughable” call not to investigate Verstappen-Hamilton incident”

  1. I think the question is this:

    If that was any driver other than Verstappen, would they have got a penalty?

    The answer is, emphatically, yes!

    1. Probably yeah.

    2. If it was Tsunoda they would have given him penalty points on his license!!

    3. geoffgroom44 (@)
      14th November 2021, 21:19


    4. @sonnycrockett Hamilton got a 10s penalty for far less than that at Silverstone. Only difference being that Verstappen chose to turn in on Hamilton in Silverstone, while Hamilton values his life and avoided the crash in Brazil.

      1. Good point. However, Hamilton would have made the corner in Britain, while Max failed even to do that and wasn’t as far alongside as Lewis was.

      2. Hamilton won both races though…

    5. @sonnycrockett hopefully not, nothing wrong with the move.
      Both missed the corner, max did look like he didn’t need to miss the corner by that much, looks like he was trying to defend the run to 5.

      1. Sikhumbuzo Khumalo
        14th November 2021, 22:00

        LH didn’t miss the corner. He was avoiding MV from deliberately crashing into him.

      2. One car only missed the corner because the other car braked too late, couldn’t make the corner and collided with it, even though it turned in as late as possible to minimise the chance of a collision.

        1. Not only that, but max did exactly the same move when ham passed max before the final corner, and max wasnt even warned or talked about all thanx to his next silly move down to first corner… and subsequent collision yet even on that occasion, ham was the one penalized… how disgusting is this?

  2. I fully agree with him, although the voice in the broadcasted conversation sounded more like Ron Meadows’ than his.

  3. petebaldwin (@)
    14th November 2021, 20:40

    No – the decisions didn’t all go against you. It looks like one did with the incident on track but Hamilton got past anyway and a 5 second penalty ultimately wouldn’t have affected the result.

    1. It would. Bottas would have come second.

      1. Then Red Bull would have made a 3rd stop, I believe they still had a new set of softs. With 12 laps to go that would have been sufficient to overtake Bottas on track, as he would gain 2 seconds per lap.

        1. Then Bottas would do a 3rd stop too to cover it!

        2. Huh? As if bottad wouldnt have been able to react to the stop

          1. Then Bottas would be behind anyways? Verstappen had 10 seconds on Bottas.

        3. @montalvo in dreamland, max would make it stick in 12 laps to pass bottas… bottas was at a decent pace at the time, only thing would happen be that perez would be ordered to slow down to let max pass and take the 3rd place and the flap. or max would drive a bit harder to keep 5sec gap… we never know but it certainly would give chance of additional 3 points ham’s way. at the end 5 sec would mean a lot

      2. Bottas wouldn’t have come 2nd even with a 5 sec penalty, I guess you didn’t watch the gaps…

    2. geoffgroom44 (@)
      14th November 2021, 21:23

      time and time again we are told that the stewards decisions do not take into account any circumstance that follows the icident, that is, the repercussions of any penalty.
      I respectfully suggest to you that the stewards’ decision had nothing to do with Hamilton subsequently overtaking and winning.
      F1 must stop with these dual standards.

    3. With Bottas 4s out from 2nd., A 5s penalty to MV would give Merc 1st & 2nd.
      Results = For Constructors; a 6 point spread, i.e. -3 for RB & +3 for Merc.
      For Drivers; MV -2 points; account demoted from 2nd. to 3rd. (18 – 15 = -3 +1 for Perez’s fastest lap = net -2) !!!!!

  4. Are we going to get to see the onboard footage of verstappens cockpit? If not why not as we appear to have footage of every other cars cockpit… If they release it and it shows max at full lock then I will be happy to say he tried to make the corner, although he should still have been penalised for breaking too late and forcing a car off the track.

    1. i hope when the footage / telemetry released, merc can launch a request for penalty “in light of new evidence” just like that red bull did once or twice to get ham penalized next day.

      1. It now appears that the Stewards had no data and no footage apart from the broadcast footage, so they did not even look at Verstappens steering input! They simply refused to investigate the incident!

  5. Who makes the decision to investigate or not? That’s a problem.

    1. Yep this is indeed an issue. It seems it is entirely arbitrary as to whether an incident is investigated… That is not acceptable.

  6. I thought that it was fine at first given that it looked like hard fair racing. But, I’ll be firm here, after watching the incident many times, from Lewis’ camera it looked deliberate that Max wanted to run him off the track, and that from the helicopter shot, there is a partial moment in the apex that shows Verstappen’s car pointing directly towards to outside of the track . At this point, I am surprised that the stewards are not taking further action because of Bottas finishing 4 seconds behind Verstappen.

    1. True, his car was pointing to the outside, not sliding from the rear

      1. Exactly, has anyone seen this from Max’s onboard?

        It might have been calculated from Max, a collision with both DNF would suit him nicely with 3 more races to go.

        1. Not even the stewards have seen Max’s onboard!

    2. Sikhumbuzo Khumalo
      14th November 2021, 22:02

      100% agree with you.

    3. Verstappen would’ve increased his pace a little with the penalty, no? He obviously managed the gap after hamilton passed him, there was nothing else to play for.

  7. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    14th November 2021, 21:00

    The only thing laughable this weekend is how much of a bunch of sore losers Mercedes are. Especially Wolff and Hamilton. The face the first made at the camera when Hamilton overtook Verstappen said it all. They forget they represent a brand. An represent it poorly at that.

    1. How can the literal RACE WINNER be a sore loser? Maybe dry those eyes and try again.

      1. geoffgroom44 (@)
        14th November 2021, 21:27

        hehehe,right on Ben.
        as for representing a brand,,well it seems their main opponents tend to get fizzy rather quickly. hahaha
        Seriously though, BB down under,I respect your dedication to your driver but you do your team no service when you fail to be objective about events.

    2. MohammedTurbinas
      14th November 2021, 21:31

      Tbh I agree with you. I don’t support neither of them, but in 7 years Mercedes obliterated the opposition and today, when they finally have to sweat blood and tears for a race win, the attitude they took was pathetic. Like, nobody of the 10+ team principals we’ve had in that time would have done what Toto did today when beating a rival car.
      Sore losers? They won “on merit” but spit on everyone’s faces after that. Maybe a bit of sore losers and bad winners.

    3. @barryfromdownunder they act like the victims they are not.

    4. OK there was a lot of sore people this weekend. Mercedes losing their poop on the inspection issue. And still whining about it. Max talking smack about his own penalty and then his rather dirty driving today and then talking smack about his black and white flag as well. There would have been so many technicals if this were a basketball game.

  8. I like this title. Angry Wolff. Some children stories vibe … :)

  9. “Angry Wolff”

  10. Hungry Like The Wolff

    1. I thought you and Tubbs were Ferrari fans so I’m sure you liked this result.

      1. Tubbs is still a Ferrari fan but I’ve moved onto McLaren.

        I’m thinking, sunset in Miami, In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins playing, and Tubbs and I driving around the city in a McLaren 720S looking very, very serious.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          15th November 2021, 0:04

          @sonnycrockett ha-ha, that would be glorious! Miami Vice started it all for TV shows!

          1. @sonnycrockett I love your username buddy. After F1, the only thing that excites is Miami Vice. I wish the Miami Grand Prix would race in the same streets through which Crockett and Tubbs sped in their Daytona and Testarossa.

  11. geoffgroom44 (@)
    14th November 2021, 21:29

    Tell you what I like about the weekend’s racing…..nothing, nothing,nothing stopped The Hammer from nailing it !
    Stand back and admire.We have just witnessed an absolutely extraordinary F1 event.

    1. i hope we can see this video again, with the actors from redbul side enacting headbuting their walls :)

  12. Mark in Florida
    14th November 2021, 21:33

    Ha, Hamilton got a Hamilton done to him. How could they call that a penalty when Lewis has never been called for it. Ask Rosberg how he feels about it. I’m sure he felt Lewis should have got a penalty many times for running him and other’s off the track. Sorry Hamilfans you can’t pick your penalties when your guy is the master of it.

  13. Ok, so give Verstappen a 10s penalty, just like they gave Hamilton in at Silverstone…Neither making any difference to the results.
    And while I take my hat of to Hamilton this weekend, I still want to know how that car can be so much faster than the rest. No way that is all about Lewis.

  14. Well I agree on turn four, that was clearly a foul. But Mercedes punched themselves in the face twice this weekend. Toto should praise his team and drivers, move on, and stop attacking the refs. This was maybe Hamilton’s greatest weekend and Toto needs to stop throwing furniture in the canteen and drink the champagne.

    1. I think the fact the incident wasn’t even investigated was reason to be a little frustrated @dmw. I’m not a big fan of Toto’s antics at times, but I do wonder what exactly happened today. Anyone with knowledge of F1 can tell Max got away with one, luckily it didn’t matter in the end but let’s see at the coming races. Maybe Red Bull can take back some of their Silverstone outrageous comments.

      1. John Mitchell
        20th November 2021, 0:32

        Toto’s antics are rare especially compared to Red Bulls Marco.

  15. @keithcollantine Surely the issue is that the incident was merely noted and not even referred to the stewards?

    1. Indeed. What do the regs say about what qualifies for an investigation?

      As far as I am concerned almost all incidents should be investigated, the only ones that should not is where it is clear and obvious that no rules were broken.

  16. Good god the only person in the world more dillusional then @f1osaurus has to be Toto 🐺

    1. @w0o0dy You must be confusing me with a “dill” pickle or something?

      Or are you saying that when God is the only person in the world and apparently also a dill, that when that is the case, “then” I must be Toto Wolff?

    2. Hahahaha

  17. This is better than watching standup vs. heckler videos on YouTube.

  18. Toto Wolff gets more emotional by the weekend, I would almost say he is started to lose control over his emotions.

    1. John Mitchell
      20th November 2021, 0:34

      He is being dragged in to emulate the Red Bull team that seem to overdose on the Reb Bull drink.

  19. Toto, watch out for the Siege mentality syndrome. It usually just goes in one direction—I don’t know any example of it being helpful in the long run.

  20. It was full moon wasn’t it? ;)

Comments are closed.