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No Favoritism Wolff Defends Mercedes

Wolff Quashes Hamilton Tension Rumors

28/05/2024

Toto Wolff denies rumors of tension at Mercedes F1, insisting on equal treatment for both drivers despite recent setbacks in Monaco.

Is the atmosphere at Mercedes F1 starting to deteriorate?

At the Monaco Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton clearly expressed his frustration at not having the latest upgrades (only George Russell had them for Monaco). This mainly concerned a very different philosophy for the W15’s front wing.

“I already know I’m going to lose two-tenths automatically in qualifying,” the seven-time world champion grumbled on Saturday morning.

Naturally, Hamilton’s close associates and fans are worried: since the Briton will leave Mercedes F1 for Ferrari next year, might he increasingly suffer from unfavourable treatment?

However, Toto Wolff reassured everyone after Monaco: Mercedes F1 will continue to treat its two drivers equally, as it always has.

“You know, aren’t all drivers sometimes a bit skeptical?”

“I think as a team, we’ve demonstrated, even in the most intense teammate battles, that we always try to balance our drivers’ performance and be transparent and fair.”

“I don’t think there’s been a single moment, except in Abu Dhabi 2016 [when Hamilton was asked to stop slowing down Nico Rosberg], where we didn’t manage things this way.”

“We haven’t done [clear team orders] since Abu Dhabi 2016, but I understand that as a driver, you want the best for yourself and the team. Sometimes, when things go against you, you can start questioning. As a team, our mission is to provide both drivers with two great cars, the best possible cars, the best strategies, and the best support.”

Is the relationship between Mercedes F1 and Lewis Hamilton fractured since the departure announcement?

“Well, we’re trying to make the most of this relationship, maximizing results for this final season. And you know, between drivers and teams, it can sometimes be tense because everyone wants to do their best.”

Two Missteps Between Lewis and Mercedes F1 in Monaco

Still, at the last Grand Prix in Monaco, there were communication failures. Two, in fact.

First, Lewis Hamilton wanted to start on mediums to switch to hards if there was a red flag. Instead, he started on hards, like George Russell, preventing him from capitalizing on the red flag and the free stop on the first lap.

“I told you…” Lewis fumed over the radio.

Second misstep: when Hamilton was called to the pits on lap 51 to fit new hards. The Briton could have attempted the undercut on Max Verstappen. However, he failed, partly because he didn’t push hard enough on his out lap.

“You didn’t tell me the out lap was critical!” Hamilton snapped over the radio when he saw Verstappen emerge ahead of him.

How does Toto Wolff explain this (new) operational error at Mercedes F1?

“It was poor communication on our part from the pit wall, and we made a mistake.”

“The out lap needed to be critical to try to make the undercut work. But there was a debate over whether a fast out lap would be enough with the new tire. The message he received was at best confusing, but probably wrong. It should have been a ‘the out lap is critical’ message, but the concern in the background was if we destroyed the tire in one lap, what would happen later? Summarizing the wrong message sent to Lewis, you could say it’s the team’s fault.”

Finally, wasn’t Hamilton right to want to start on mediums? Why wasn’t he listened to?

“There was a strategy that could have helped us, which is to overtake with the safety car at the right time.”

“But it could have happened that both cars worked together to create the necessary gap for the stop. It’s obviously fair for one and unfair for the other, but I think it could have been an option. When the accident happened at the start, it was clear we were really struggling with the tires.”

“Fundamentally, I don’t think there’s much to change in Monaco. You practically finish where you start.”

No Favoritism: Wolff Defends Mercedes. No Favoritism: Wolff Defends Mercedes

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