Wolff attacks: “Hamilton robbed of title. Masi? Incompatible with the role”

Mercedes F1 team principal very tough: “We would have won in court but it’s not our way of doing things. Lewis is humanly disappointed but it is worth fighting for the 2022 title ”. The team principal and seven-time world champion will not attend the awards ceremony in Paris

Andrea Fanì

After announcing the waiver of any further appeal against the final result of the F1 2021 World Championship, it was Toto Wolff, Mercedes team principal, who “took to the track” to defend the work of the team and Lewis Hamilton. The long lecture by the Austrian manager is full of strong sentences, without the possibility of interpretation. But most of all there is a sentence that gives an idea of ​​how Mercedes and Hamilton are feeling today: “Lewis has been robbed of the 2021 World title”. Respect and recognition of Max Verstappen’s victory, but profound disappointment for the behavior of the Race Direction in the Abu Dhabi GP: repeated criticism of Michael Masi, defined as “incompatible” and “inadequate” with the role. A conference with correct but very strong tones.

mercedes “robbed”

“I expect concrete actions from the FIA, not words. Actions on technical issues and rules, so that it is clear in the future what can and what cannot be done ”, attacks the number 1 Mercedes. “We have decided not to appeal, despite being aware of our reasons. But we are also aware of the consequences of a possible appeal. I am sure we would have won in any courtroom, I am sure, in the light of the evidence at our disposal. But it is not in our style, and here we are not discussing how the FIA ​​or the Race Direction is structured: however, it is necessary to clarify how we will go forward, we need the certainty of precise, clear, equidistant rules that are applied continuously and unambiguously. Fourteen months ago, in the 2020 Eifel GP, the opposite decision was taken to that taken in the Abu Dhabi 2021 GP: decision changed by 180 ° “. The reference is to the 2020 Eifel GP, when before the return of the Safety Car all the lapped drivers were allowed to rejoin, “doubling down”. And Wolff underlines, regarding the procedures: “The rules are clear. If there is a crashed car on the track and it takes time to remove it, you have to expose the red flags ”. This aspect is fundamental: if the red flag had been displayed, Hamilton – unlike Verstappen who had taken advantage of the Safety Car to change tires – could have re-entered the pit lane and replaced the tires, like his rival. “Furthermore – adds Toto – they should have split all the drivers, not just those between Hamilton, first, and Verstappen, second. For example, why not split even those ahead of Sainz, why deprive Ferrari of the chance to win? This is why I insist on the need for uniformly applied rules ”. For the record, if they had allowed all the lapped riders to get out of position and get back into the queue, there would not have been time to make the last “free” lap, as was actually the case with Verstappen’s overtaking at Hamilton.

“Farms not compatible”

Clear rules, therefore, but above all always applied in the same way, according to Wolff. Who then analyzes the delicate role of Michael Masi, the F1 Race Director who replaced Charlie Whiting, who passed away in 2019. “Masi the problem? I would say that the problem is much bigger than Masi ”, Wolff points out; “It is not a question of individuals but of how decisions are made. We need a fair and continuous yardstick on how the rules are applied. I haven’t talked to Masi, why should I? A decision was simply made, in the last 4 minutes of the GP, which annihilated Hamilton. It took away the title. Lewis dominated the race from the start, he would never have lost in that race situation, but there is no doubt that Hamilton was robbed of his victory. From every point of view: sporty, professional, human, he was robbed. So I believe that Masi’s role is incompatible with the type of decisions to be made; but I repeat, it is not a question of changing the Clerk of the Course, if anything it is necessary to change the decision-making system, clarity, continuity of application of the rules and fairness are fundamental ”.

verstappen e le tv

Then the Mercedes team principal also addressed the other issue, brought up the day after the race by some British newspapers: “The final decision made for the benefit of the TV audience? Never thought of such a thing, it is beyond the logic of any F1 team. We are based on the principles of sport, not on what surrounds them. Stefano Domenicali is a brilliant manager from the point of view of marketing the F1 product, but he has never interfered with the events on the track. Here the credibility of a sport like F1 is at stake. And I had full assurances from Domenicali that in the coming weeks we will have several meetings, which will involve teams and riders, to prevent similar situations from happening again ”. Credibility is a key word in Wolff’s reasoning, as is transparency. In fact, he adds: “For Ross Brawn, a team principal shouldn’t be able to talk to the Race Director? If we do this, I think it is for the benefit of transparency, to inform viewers of everything that happens. I must have the opportunity to speak, to defend the work and integrity of my team. Also because, it is demonstrated, on some occasions, under the pressure of the team principals, the Race Direction made the right decisions ”. The reference is to the Saudi Arabian GP, ​​after the live “negotiation” between Masi and Red Bull before the inclusion of Mercedes to enforce the rules on restarting. But, as specified by Wolff, the problem is not Red Bull: “Of course. Verstappen and his team have won, I have no problems with them, they have done an exceptional job and we will always have great respect for what they have done. But the FIA ​​has to decide what is the best way to go forward, involving teams and drivers ”.

wolff e hamilton

Last but not least, the long considerations on Lewis Hamilton, Toto Wolff’s “twin” in the Mercedes domination started in F1 in 2014: “We shared all our decisions with Hamilton, as we always do within the Mercedes team. We shared the choice to appeal in Abu Dhabi as well as the decision to withdraw our appeals. It was very tiring, I would say terrible, to make such decisions, none of us would ever want to win in a courtroom. But in Abu Dhabi it was done freestyle (he says so, Wolff, ed) on the rules, this is unacceptable to us. Then it is one thing to be right and one thing is to have justice ”. And when asked how Lewis is doing, Toto explained: “He’s disillusioned. We all believe in sport, in the values ​​of F1, in our work. But if the authenticity of your discipline fails, it means that somehow your sport is failing its mission. It will take us all a long time to understand what happened in Abu Dhabi, even today I am incredulous, we have experienced a surreal situation. First they said that no one could split, after 4 ‘they only said those between Hamilton and Verstappen. I would call it a nightmare “. From what he says after Wolff, in some ways there is such a disappointment in Lewis as to almost cast doubt on the desire to be there in 2022. A dispelled doubt, it seems: “Humanly, we are all in difficulty. We are aware that we live a microcosm with respect to real problems, but each of us puts all our values ​​in this microcosm. In Abu Dhabi, all those values ​​were kicked in. He is the greatest rider in history, I talk to him every day but now I really have little to say to him. We try to deal with our feelings, defeat is the first sensation we feel but we have to deal with the future ”. And therefore: “Now more than ever it is worth playing for the next World Cup. As a man he is injured, it is difficult to understand what happened, but Lewis is still at the peak of his F1 performance ”.

the gala fia

In closing, and in strong controversy, Wolff confirmed that he will not be at the FIA ​​Gala for the awarding of the prizes: “I am unable to go. But I wouldn’t have gone there out of loyalty to Lewis Hamilton. Our representative will be there to collect the award for the 8th Constructors’ World Championship, a milestone never achieved by anyone in the history of F1. So we must also isolate the anger and disappointment from the right to celebrate with those who work in the team for this great result. How did the sponsors make our decision? They are with us always, we have received many messages of support from partners and fans, the sponsors have great faith in us and in our work ”.

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Wolff attacks: “Hamilton robbed of title. Masi? Incompatible with the role”