Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Interlagos, 2021

FIA’s “robust” points deduction warning to drivers a good deterrent – Wolff

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi’s pre-race warning over the possibility of points deductions for unsporting conduct has been welcomed by Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.

Following the United States Grand Prix, Wolff warned the title-deciding race could feature a repeat of the controversial, deliberate collisions which decided the 1989 and 1990 world championships between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.

“If it was to come to the scenario of the last race in Abu Dhabi and they were to be racing each other for the title, whoever is in front is absolutely going to try to do the same as in the Senna-Prost years,” Wolff said in October.

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen go into the final race of the season this weekend level on points, with the latter guaranteed to win the title for Red Bull if both fail to finish. Ahead of the race, Masi yesterday used his pre-race event guidance to remind all drivers that the stewards have the power to confiscate points.

Wolff welcomed the step Masi had taken ahead of the final round. “I think that with all the controversies we had in the last few races – and again this is probably a matter of different perceptions from different camps – it is very good that Michael and the FIA have come out with a reminder of what the ISC stands for.

“And I think [this] coming out is maybe a good deterrent for everyone to keep the racing clean, what is on and what is not on, that simply not only the real race result will matter for a championship but also the driving standards.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes Masi’s statement has come at Wolff’s instigation. “I can see why Toto and Lewis with the disadvantage of race wins would be pushing for that,” he said.

“But nobody’s going into this race to say it’s going to end in a crash. There’s been great speculation about it but our focus is on trying to win this on track and trying to do it at the chequered flag.”

Horner said any decision by the stewards should be consistent with past calls made at Silverstone and the Hungaroring, where Verstappen lost significant ground in the championship to Hamilton following collisions.

“It’s one of 22 races,” said Horner. “What’s the difference between this race, for example, and Silverstone or Hungary? There has to be consistency of stewarding, of penalties. I think that’s the thing that drives people more mad than anything else is when there is perceived to be an inconsistency.

“That piece of sporting code that’s been highlighted in the notes, that’s always been there, that’s not something that’s been introduced for this weekend.

“Nobody wants to see this championship end up in front of the stewards or in a gravel trap. We want to see these two titans of drivers that have gone wheel-to-wheel so often this year go at it again this weekend. That’s what as a team we want and what as a driver Max wants. There needs to be consistency.”

Speaking to Sky, Wolff said his earlier warning about the possibility of the championship being decided by a crash prompted “some criticism of how could I even suggest such a situation”.

However he believes recent incidents between the title contenders has made it necessary.

“What we’ve seen in Brazil and also maybe in Jeddah was controversial driving,” said Wolff. “Therefore I think it was good that it happened in Jeddah and I think it’s good that the race director came in robust to say what’s on and what is not on and that maybe that is enough deterrent for the drivers.

“And it’s not only Max, but for all drivers to have a clean race on Sunday.”

Several past championship has been decided by controversial collisions, Wolff noted. “I think it would be bad but we’ve seen it before: Prost and Senna ended up in the stewards’ office and the same with Michael [Schumacher] and Damon [Hill], and Michael and [Jacques] Villeneuve. Sometimes it’s part of the game.”

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Keith Collantine
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74 comments on “FIA’s “robust” points deduction warning to drivers a good deterrent – Wolff”

  1. Lewis Hamilton will do his best

    1. Yep, he’s done it 103 times already.

    2. Again?
      Another “Silverstone” then.
      The Hamilton move (c) in action.
      Low penalty high reward..

  2. The hypocrisy of Wolff is unprecedented. Shameless. Not that Horner isn’t a good runner up. A pity these two undermine the total sport they claim to love.

    1. @dieterrencken – What a gem you are Sir, thank you for asking Toto about these ‘spicy engines’ and whether all customers (and Bottas) have the same unit. It’s a shame he completely dodged your question. I hope you get the chance to do a follow up, or perhaps ask some of his customers their thoughts on the subject…

      It’s a great shame that the F1 media at large has no interest in this story, despite having all agreed upon the headline happy term ‘spicy engines’. To acknowledge these units are different without calling Merc to task is an embarrassment to their so called ‘coverage’.

      1. Can someone tell me what exactly is illegal with this engine? I’ve been trying to find a common sense reply to this question for 4 weeks now, but it seems to be lacking.

        1. In early 2018 the FIA put out a directive requiring parity between a works PU and all supplied customer PUs. Simple.

          1. Hardware only. And remember the engines are run by embed supplier personal. So if they say “ya know what, best not use mode X, it’ll eat into our reliability” teams do that, mean while the works team (maybe with more data) get to use mode X.

          2. @falken – “ii) Run with identical software and must be capable of being operated in precisely the same way.”

            Hardware and software and fuel.

        2. @john-h. There is nothing illegal about that Mercedes engine in Brazil. They wouldn’t be so stupid to do that.

          But…. Running that engine for 1 race instead of 8 will give you an unfair advantage. Legal, but hugely unfair. Of course you you have ‘reliability problems’ when you run the party mode full race.

          1. If the customers can’t run it in that mode, it’s illegal.

    2. Wolff comes across as a banker praising government oversight after his millions have long since disappeared to Switzerland or Monaco. We’ve all seen where the big point swings happened.

      It’s disappointing that out of all ten teams, Wolff and Horner are the ones involved in the championship battle.

      1. Hear hear

  3. Jonathan Parkin
    10th December 2021, 12:24

    Can I ask what happens if either Lewis or Max have a huge crash – not with each other – before the race that writes off their car?

    Are they then allowed to take their teammates car

    1. I think most teams have the capacity to rebuild a car from scratch, but it would mean taking several penalties for new engines, gear boxes and so on.

      1. Which is why Ham should take the 5 place drop for a new engine and be done with it

        1. Sikhumbuzo Khumalo
          11th December 2021, 2:16

          Lewis has a 2 race old engine. No ways must he take an engine penalty

  4. Isn’t this just the usual suspects threatening to apply the same rules in a different way…again?

    All I want is consistent stewarding, not public threats that roughly translate to “this is the most important race of the season so we’ll be paying special attention to you two and chucking out unprecedented penalties if we so choose”

    1. @joshgeake they wouldn’t be unprecedented penalties. It’s what they did to Schumacher in 97.

      1. Not quite – Schumacher was “disqualified from the championship” and hence lost all his points. He didn’t lose an arbitrary number of points that led to Jacques winning – he lost everything.

        1. But that was after he already lost the championship. He ended second.
          (and was taken out the championship later)

    2. The goal is to keep the ‘Max is dirty’ Mercedes propaganda machine running. This man knows exactly what he is doing. Destroying a 24 year old talent because he outdrives your dominant equipment.

  5. Coventry Climax
    10th December 2021, 12:35

    I’ll repeat my comment of one or two articles ago:

    I think there’s a huge chance the championship will be decided by the FIA and Pirelli.
    How so? Well, just look at the amount of carbon debris flying around when the cars go over the curbs.
    If the FIA had sticked to the rule that the inner white line (previously the only white line) is the track limit, and all four wheels should remain within it, then we wouldn’t have so many of those carbon pieces. With them scattered all over the place however, specifically at the fastest corners, there’s bound to be tyre failure with a couple of cars.
    Even if tyre failure does not directly hit Hamilton or Verstappen, the timing of it happening and the subsequent SC or VSC period may very well be crucial, disrupting the tactics of one team or the other.

    1. I believe they are just chunks of paint from the red-white kerbs, not actual debree from cars.

  6. Coventry Climax
    10th December 2021, 12:40

    What’s the effectiveness of threatening with the possibility of points deductions for unsporting conduct, when that ‘unsporting conduct’ -and the penalty for it- is to be decided by a jury that is known to be inconsistent?

    1. precisly. Did Bottas get point-reduction for hungary? Lewis for Silverstone or for that instance Max for Monza?

      you cannot change the rules during the championship!

      It is so hypocrite from the FIA and from Wolf.

      Here is hoping fore a clean race and no penalty….

      1. @Mark, they haven’t changed the rules. They’ve merely stated rules that are already in the ISC.

      2. Removal of points has always been an option, so no rules have been changed.

      3. While at it how about dropping points from farce that was Spa.

        1. You don’t need to drop the points, just say that as Spa wasn’t contested, the points remain but the win won’t count towards Max’s tally – leaving them on equal points and equal wins.

          1. Aha, that’s the reason why Lewis fans seem to want to nullify spa.
            It’s not about the sporting but the win that counts.
            I did not got that one.

          2. Spa should be nullified, as there was no race. If a chamipionship gets decided by points for a not existent race, then it would be a slightly distorted result.

          3. Well it was clear by Lewis and Mercedes’ behavior they needed all this year. They’ve thrown all at it, a multiple WDC, a car that hasnt been beaten this regulatory era, tyre structural changes, pitstop alterations, spicy engines, anti Max campaigning, bumping him off track twice and still they are only level. And thats just because of Baku and two very fortunate red flag conditions. Must be frustrating and what a huge compliment to Max.

      4. Mark, A standard incident is not ‘unsporting conduct’. ‘unsporting conduct’ is what Verstappen has been demonstrating over and over since Brazil. Not even pretending to attempt to keep the car on track anymore or to safely reenter after going off track.

        1. Now he is playing victim card over the penalties which were far too lenient.

        2. Unsporting conduct is what Lewis did and was threatened with a black and white flag.

          1. slight rectification. it was VER penalized for his behaviour, not HAM…

        3. Ronald van Bakel
          10th December 2021, 19:25

          As all people with common sense know the differencee between a standard incident and “unsporting conduct” is very hard to determine objectively. Very few followers of F1 are capable of doing it and even less are ready to accept that. When Hamilton bumped Verstappen into the walls his fans called it a standard incident, while Verstappen’s fans felt it was clearly unsporting conduct. In Monza it was the other way around. So saying Verstappen “clearly” acted unsportingly is nice from a fan’s perspective, but that’s not how stewarding should be done. If an incident like Monza or Silverstone would happen in this race and it would lead to a points deductions now, it would be a travesty.

      5. I think it’s about intent. Clearly Bottas locked up and hit Norris, he wasn’t aiming at a red bull to take one out and drove straight into one.

        I think it’s pretty clear Senna on the other hand deliberately drove into Prost. That’s the difference. If Max does a Senna then quite rightly that needs to be punished, just like any race.

        1. Just to add, there is also Schumacher in 1997 of course. 1994 the way he did it wasn’t so obvious, so Max could do it in a slightly less obvious way perhaps, a bit like his brake testing.

          1. Yeah, if Verstappen just does it the way Hamilton does it, than it’s fine.

  7. Let’s hope Lewis does not use his signature Hamilton move (c) again.
    That would cost him and Mercedes the championship.

    1. Even Horner has put it on record at the start of the season that Max’s strategy is to force the other drivers to either get out of the way or crash, and yet it is always the fault of the other driver for daring to be vaguely in Max’s way.

      What does he have to do for you to be even slightly critical? Change his nationality?

    2. Whats his signature move – backing out of a Verstappen-torpedo? Cause he did so in many occasions throughout the season…

    3. Agreed with RomTrain, I don;t think they hand out penalties for trying to prevent an accident like Hamilton keeps being forced to by Verstappen’s constant dirty driving.

      1. The one he used twice on albon, on rosberg and on max in Silverstone.
        Once is an accident, with lewis it’s structural.
        He performed it to perfection.

        He was only twice really penalised for it.

        1. wait, brazil was ok, but when you stay on track while pushing the outer car off its not. weird logics…

    4. I’m not sure which driver you want to win the championship erikje, could you please confirm?

      1. Erikje is smitten with Max, she keeps many photos of him in her purse.

        1. I believe @john-h may have been being sarcastic…

  8. Did Horner’s amnesia make him forget Monza?

  9. If an occasion arises where they deduct points from either drivers. This championship would be decided in a court room.

  10. Everyone should be afraid.
    Masi doesn’t understand racing. He can’t tell the difference between lead and lag.
    If he felt Hamilton running Verstappen wide in S. Arabia despite starting his turn while ahead then Mercedes should not be surprised if they are penalised for normal defending.
    They have not said what is dangerous driving, they have only warned of the consequences.

    1. Apparently brake testing a driver is not considered dangerous driving, this has been established.

      1. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
        10th December 2021, 16:16

        Nor using your car as a hat.

    2. Hamilton knows if he give Max an inch, Max will go for gaps which aren’t there. We saw that in Monza where
      Hamilton didn’t close the gap entirely on that first corner and Verstappen dam near took his head off, driving for a position which wasn’t there.

      Time and time again you’ll see Max tear into a gap which he can’t then break for, just beause that gap is there. His brand of driving has him late braking, braking far later than the corner will allow. He gets ahead but he has no control.

      Hamilton got penalised for closing the gap, but i think that was because it was done that tight track, even thought that part of the track had a run off.

      1. It’s quite amazing that Ham and Norris were able to go side by side through that chicane and both come out of it. Yet when Max put himself in exactly the same position as Lando, ham just closed the door.

        He seems ok giving space to other drivers yet freaks out when it’s Max

  11. I guess a lot depends on how the stewards feel about enforcing the rules or rather make up their own interpretation.

    Silvia Bellot is one of the same stewards from last race, but unfortunately Gary Connelly isn’t there.
    Andrew Mallalieu is perhaps a stickler for rules and then not even the literal ones, but the idea of the rules behind them as he was one of the stewards who penalized Hamilton in Russia for starting where the actual rules allowed, but the intent not.
    No idea who the third steward “Alqassim Hamidaddin” is.

    1. he was one of the stewards who penalized Hamilton

      Unbelievable, that must be a crook or corrupt steward.
      At least not a ral Brit.
      It’s impossible Saint lewis can be penalised.

  12. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
    10th December 2021, 16:14

    Sky F1 has an interview with several world champions about their historic rivalries. Jacques Villeneuve makes a really interesting point about 1997, he says that in the build up to the the race he mentioned the possibility of Schumacher cheating as he did in 1994, and he mentioned it repeatedly, until the media started asking questions of the FIA; that forced a clarification from the FIA that it would take strong action against cheating. To this day, Villeneuve believes it was the action he took on the political front, forcing the FIA’s hand, which ensured that Schumacher was held to account. I have to say that this had all gone over my head at the time, but I have wondered in later years why the FIA took action in 1997, when it hadn’t previously. I notice this season that Toto has mentioned the possibility of a collision deciding the championship on several occasions. Has he been following the Villeneuve example?

  13. I think Verstappen is correct when he says he’s treated differently than other drivers. He’s gotten away with a lot more than anyone else would have. I think they have let things slide a bit because he’s exciting, but ultimately he’s a dirty racer and one day he will cause a serious incident. He shoudn’t be allowed to just drive at people in a way that means he would never make a corner, and expect the other driver (that IS making the corner) to take evasive action or be taken out.

    1. The puzzliing thing is he just doesn’t seem to get it, and Horner seems to be encouraging his self ‘entitled’ driverisms.

      That red but directive to “give the place back strategically” was the last straw. That ‘brake test’ could so easily have caused damage costing Hamilton the race. As it is Verstappen simply ran out of tires and could pit again without risking his 2nd place.

      Without a clear directive from the FIA, Verstappen might well ‘send one’ out of desperation. A ten second stop go would mean nothing if for example, Hamilton was taken out and Verstappen could still finish.

      1. red but directive == red bull directive

  14. When are they going to deduct points from Hamilton for Silverstone?

    1. He was penalized at the time. Your tinfoil hat is too tight.

    2. Maybe the day that it is proven to be intentional. i.e. never. It was hardly Senna Prost 1990 was it, let’s be honest here @f1mre.

      1. That will only happen in his memoirs.
        He probably states he did not see max.

        1. Maybe MAX didnt see the car alongside, when deciding to turn in like it wasnt there. HAM would probably not have crashed, if roles would have been reversed.

        2. If anything he tries to back out of it but it was too late at that point. Hamilton was at fault at Silverstone, but it was clumsy and Max could have avoided it had he wanted to. Anyway we’re going over old ground here, but it’s world’s apart from brake testing and dive bombing.

          1. I think at the time Max had a 33 points advantage, he didn’t need to force the pace at Silverstone. Max simply wasn’t thinking long term when he chose to apply his brand strong arm driving to Hamilton, on his home track.

            Had Max driven for 2nd, driven to avoid contact, or driven fairly for a sustained wheel to wheel fight, he would now be champion. Ultimately Verstappen was undone by his own agression.

  15. The thing about the points deduction threat is, that its hypocritical with statements earlier this season. Stating that the effect of an infringement wasn’t of concern for the punishment.
    It all just sounds so subjective and arbitrary.

  16. “What we’ve seen in Brazil and also maybe in Jeddah was controversial driving,”

    Yes Toto, mate, perhaps what we need is more Poltically Correct driving?

  17. If it can avoid another Silverstone – hugely unrealistic overtake attempt at dangerously high speeds then good.

    Shame they can’t backdate the points as it would have handed Max the title a few races ago!

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