Radio messages to Hamilton were needed to “calm things down” – Wolff

2023 Austrian Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff explained why he took the unusual step of speaking to Lewis Hamilton twice on the radio during yesterday’s Austrian Grand Prix.

While the majority of the team’s radio communication takes place between the drivers and their engineers, Wolff has increasingly been heard speaking on the radio when either driver has been notably unhappy. He did so in the Monaco Grand Prix earlier this year when George Russell grew frustrated with himself for a mistake.

Hamilton collected a penalty for repeatedly exceeding track limits early in yesterday’s race. It proved the first of 20 such penalties applied to different drivers for the same infringement.

As Hamilton gathered more warnings for track limits breaches, he began to report others he observed doing the same. However due to the sheer number of breaches which occured during the race – over 1,200 potential cases were inspected – race control gradually fell behind in issuing notifications and penalties.

As Hamilton repeatedly asked his team whether the drivers he saw running wide were given penalties, Wolff decided to intervene and urge Hamilton to focus on his own race.

“We had a lot of discussions about track limits and whether they were enforced or not,” Wolff told media including RaceFans afterwards. “I felt that I wanted to just make sure that we were doing the best out of the package that didn’t perform and just tried to give it the best shot that we had.”

Hamilton started the race fifth, fell to seventh at the finish and was classified eighth after his penalties. The poor result was a blow to the team following their improved performance in recent races, including podium finishes for Hamilton in the previous two rounds.

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Wolff said his occasional interventions on the radio are “only for the best interests for the drivers and the team.”

“Sometimes there’s a certain moment where you need to calm things down – but I mean well.”

Selected Hamilton comments on track limits and Wolff’s responses

Hamilton Sainz went off in turn seven, also, mate.
Hamilton Perez completely off at turn nine.
Hamilton Perez completely off at turn 10. Has he got a penalty yet?
Hamilton This guy’s been off every single time. Turn 10, again.
Bonnington It looks like they’re at least 10 laps behind dishing out these penalties. Sainz has one now.
Hamilton Has Perez got a penalty yet?
Hamilton That’s Lando off, nine and 10.
Hamilton Norris off again turn 10 mate.
Hamilton Has anyone else got a penalty?
Wolff Lewis, they’re all going to get penalties in front of you. Keep going.
Hamilton I’ve seen that car [Norris] make turn one once.
Hamilton Is there a reason why the stewards haven’t given those penalties yet?
Bonnington They are still dishing out warnings and penalties.
Wolff Lewis the car is bad, we know. Please drive it.

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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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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18 comments on “Radio messages to Hamilton were needed to “calm things down” – Wolff”

  1. Well, the frustration is real.

    Some years ago we saw a completly different Hamilton, everything under control, being 1ste was the standard. And on the other end of the spectrum we had Verstappen being frustrated about anything and everything.

    Times have changend a lot since then……

  2. Well, yeah. I think Wolf was there at the right moment to get Lewis to refocus on the driving of the car and away from thinking about penalties and the fairness of all of that.

    Ultimately, it seems they might have intervened a tad earlier when we all heard Norris on the radio and avoided some of the penalty though

  3. A moaning Lewis and a angry toto…
    I seem to remember that ;)
    But throwing the development team under the bus to keep your driver quiet does looks bad.

    1. Yes. Maybe there’s another upgrade on the way for this “bad” upgraded car. If not, should have put Roscoe on the radio.

      1. Lewis, we don’t have any more upgrades, sorry!

  4. He should’ve been told earlier that everyone who exceeds their warning allocation would equally get penalized anyway.

  5. i thought he was complaining about the car for Toto to that, but he was just playing Lando’s game.

  6. If I were Hamilton I would tell the fia to kiss mine. After Abu Dhabi it is clear that rules only apply in some ciecumstances. F1 is rigged. I would remind wolff that he dropped the suit against the fia. I would remind wolf and fia that the rules only apply for certain drivers. Clearly Norris had violated limits throughout tge race. Again, Hamilton should remind everyone that rules only apply for some . . . remember Abu Dhabi!

    1. Ow yes true, he cut a chicane , gained advantage , didnt give back the place and got no penalty. You are right. Rigged!

      1. yes max goes of the brasil corners by about 100m and gets no penalty, understood. you are right. rigged.
        max goes on a revenge rampage gets someone dsq, gets no penalty, understood, you are right.

        1. Surprisingly (cause I know most users’ opinion here) I agree with these 2 examples, they are very strange cases of not being penalised: brazil he kinda forced hamilton off and they both went off by far, I guess they turned a blind eye for the championship fight, which was incredibly balanced, and here no penalty for a revenge action was very odd, and there’s no championship fight excuse this year.

      2. Ow yes true, he cut a chicane , gained advantage , didnt give back the place and got no penalty.

        Yep, sounds like an accurate description of Max’s driving for several years, including 2021. I’m so glad you noticed.

    2. Yes, we remember. What about it? I assume you mean his moaning.

  7. HAM is just a grumpy old man. Just retire. He complained in qualy that they put him out in traffic. The track was drying. If you weren’t running in the last minutes you were going to be out. He would have been whining that they should have put him out in traffic if they called him in earlier. He whines when he is on the same strategy as RUS and whines when he is on a different strategy.

    1. Tim (@tsgoodchild)
      3rd July 2023, 15:40

      I thought the same about the grumpy Fernando Alonso who moaned for years about his GP2-engine powered McLaren. Please do tell me about a driver who has never moaned? Princess Max moans on the regular as soon as there is an issue, often with every expletive under the sun.

      1. Whatabout-ism at its finest once again

      2. Sir max is a diva just as sir lewis is , that is true

    2. Hamilton does have his ‘woe is me’ spells, but basically all drivers moan whenever something isn’t exactly as they want it.

      Don’t forget that Liberty picks and chooses what they broadcast, and they’re not above crafting a spicy narrative.

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