Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said Red Bull’s criticism of seven-times champion Lewis Hamilton in the aftermath of his collision with Formula One title rival Max Verstappen at the British Grand Prix were below the belt and had crossed a line.
The pair collided on the opening lap of the race around the high-speed Silverstone track, with the contact putting Red Bull’s Verstappen out of the race in a 51G crash that sent the Dutchman to hospital for precautionary checks.
Hamilton was handed a 10-second time penalty by stewards but the Briton still went on to win his home race for a record-extending eighth time and slash his deficit to Verstappen to eight points from 33 in the overall standings.
The Milton Keynes-based team, feeling Hamilton had got off easy, had asked stewards to review the incident but their petition was dismissed on Thursday ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix for lack of new evidence.
Mercedes responded with a punchy statement, saying they hoped it would end Red Bull’s attempt to “tarnish the good name and sporting integrity of Lewis Hamilton”.
“We wanted to bring a little bit of respect back to the discussion,” Wolff told reporters on Friday in a video conference from the Hungaroring track.
“We understand that emotions can run high. But we felt that line was overstepped.”
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner had criticised Hamilton’s move as “desperate” after the Silverstone race, while the team’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko had called for the Briton to be handed a one-race ban. Verstappen described Hamilton and the Mercedes team’s post-race celebrations as “disrespectful”.
Wolff said Red Bull had elaborated on those criticisms in the submissions they made to stewards as part of their petition for a review.
“We felt the comments that were made during and after the race, and then in written statements and in the meeting itself were below the belt,” he said.
“But it’s not up to me, nor would Lewis want to demand any apologies,” he added.
Horner said Red Bull’s criticism of Hamilton wasn’t personal nor had they suggested the Briton acted deliberately.
“If that had been any other driver the reaction would have been identical,” he added, calling Mercedes’ statement “antagonistic”.
“As far as we’re concerned the chapter is now closed.”
Hamilton and Mercedes give outgoing Bottas an exciting ‘little’ parting gift
After replacing retired Nico Rosberg at Mercedes in 2017, Valterri Bottas has had a rather successful five seasons and though he didn’t manage any championship triumph, the Finn has a good number of wins to his name, most of which came in handy for the team.
Before the end of last season though, he was confirmed to race for Alfa Romeo onwards, while 2018 FIA Formula 2 champion, George Russell would leave Williams to form an all-British Mercedes team with seven-time champion, Lewis Hamilton.
Before his departure, his previous family (Mercedes) went all out to give him a parting gift, and their choice isn’t what most of us would have thought.
While they would have thought of anything else, they went for something that perhaps meant more for both sides, his first Mercedes winning car.
“They had a little surprise when I came to the factory on the last day,” said the 33-year old about the not so ‘little’ surprise. “…my first winning car in 2017,” revealed Bottas on his podcast.
The 2021 championships 2nd runners-up takes a step forward as a leader in his current team from his previous supportive role and Alfa Romeo will be counting on his experience with the current constructors’ champions to improve on their last season’s 9th place.
Hopefully, having his first win’s car from his former team will push him towards a better performance.
Will the FIA’s decision on Masi stand well with Mercedes and Hamilton?
After a controversial end to the 2021 season that saw Max Verstappen clinch his first F1 title, many have criticized race director Michael Masi for allegedly “snatching” the title from Hamilton and “handing” it over to Verstappen.
Some, if not many, believe that Masi’s decision to restart the race on the last lap was a deliberate move to deny Hamilton the win in a race he had led from lap one. Mercedes were obviously pissed off by the result, which denied their leading driver a possible record eighth championship title.
According to reports, Mercedes wants Masi gone before the 2022 season gets underway, but nothing has been decided yet about the 44-year-old. According to the Daily Mail, some believe that Masi should stay, but others think that if he does, the reputation of F1 will be jeopardized.
As per reports, Mercedes and F1 held friendly talks over the issue but didn’t reach a unanimous decision. However, the sporting body has allegedly decided that Masi will stay, which will be to Mercedes and Hamilton’s disappointment and anger.
Hamilton hasn’t disclosed whether he will participate in this coming F1 season, and if Michael stays, the chances of the 36-year old’s return to the track might probably be further minimized. “I wouldn’t be shocked if he stopped, so I don’t think anyone should take for granted he’s coming back,” stated Brown, McLaren’s CEO, who urged the sport not to ignore Lewis’ frustration or anger.
With nothing decided for certain, though, everyone, especially the involved parties, can only wait, fingers crossed that what is settled in the end benefits both sides. There’s hope of that happening if the new FIA president is as diligent as Brown described. “…I believe he will be a change agent…,” Brown assured.
Hamilton thinks rating who is best will be easy if he and Max drove the same car
Whether it will be a record eighth title for Hamilton, or a brilliant second for Verstappen, is still unclear, and so is the answer to who is the best driver between the two.
After an exciting and perhaps controversial 2021 season, F1 will usher in an anticipated 2022 as the two leading drivers and current biggest rivals take to their wheels for another title race.
After a brilliant 14-year F1 career and four consecutive titles (2017–2020), one would go for Hamilton, but some think he has the advantage of a better car.
The comparison goes way back, and in 2019, Lewis thought of the simplest solution to this argument: having Verstappen drive the same car. “I see stories that we have different cars and that’s the only way I beat him, so that would give me the opportunity to show that is not the case.”
Mercedes have dominated F1 for close to ten years, with Red Bull seeming content as runners-up most of that time, but last year saw a different outcome as the latter made it clear they were out to end their rival’s dominance.
The 36-year old’s suggestion is unlikely to take root though, as Verstappen is contracted to RedBull for at least another two seasons, while Mercedes has already signed a new teammate for the 7-time champion.
That leaves the field open for all to see and judge. Hopefully, they (Hamilton and Verstappen) make the next few seasons where they’ll compete as exciting as they have been, from which everyone will judge who to crown king.
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