F1 Mercedes Team principal Toto Wolff wants Vettel’s side on the “red mist” moment that gripped the Ferrari Championship leader and his own Lewis Hamilton. But will it change anything?
It’s no surprise that the clash between F1 2017 Championship contenders Sebastien Vettel and Lewis Hamilton has taken center stage. Although occurring at low speeds during the safety car at Baku, Vettel’s belief that he was brake-checked by Lewis Hamilton was followed up by what was deemed as an intentional shunt into Hamilton by much of the racing world. Everyone and their aunt had an opinion to give on the matter, and Hamilton himself came out in a statement saying that Vettel had “disgraced” himself with his actions.
— Sebastian Vettel #5 (@sebvettelnews) June 25, 2017
While the blame has been largely focused on Vettel and his implied intent to “get back” at Hamilton, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is urging a bit more caution when making such judgements, maintaining his “cooler heads prevail” mentality that has seen Mercedes rise as the pioneers of an almost surgical precision. Mr. Wolff commented on the speculation, and went so far as to play down his own driver’s accusations of a “disgrace”:
“Disgraced himself with his behavior? Hmm.
You know, the emotions go high in a race car. Like we’ve seen in the past, you have the visor down and you have your own perception of events so I guess the only explanation I have – and I’m not going to protect Sebastian here – is that Sebastian thought Lewis was brake-testing him, which he wasn’t.
We have seen that in the data, with the safety car being 150 meters ahead. So that was a wrong judgement.
I almost can’t imagine that he did it on purpose in shunting into him
So, I’d like to speak to him personally and hear what he says about the incident rather than making a judgement without properly having heard his statement.”
– Toto Wolff
Although Wolff may have played down the bite in Lewis’ comments, he did stand behind his driver, maintaining that Lewis did nothing wrong in the situation. Hamilton’s boss isn’t the only authority to clear him of any wrongdoing during the event – the FIA issued as statement saying that the telemetry data gathered from the event did not show Hamilton brake where Vettel claimed that he did.
Although the scale of this event specifically may have been exaggerated, there is no denying that it has sent shockwaves resonating into the future. The championship battle was due for a bit more kindling in the fire, and it has received just that. We’ve moved well beyond the pleasant exchanges offered up at Melbourne, and only time will tell just how far this fight will go.