Formula One Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff had harsh words to offer to Haas driver Romain Grosjean following comments over a perceived block from Mercedes frontman Lewis Hamilton.
Toto Wolff is one of those unique figures in Formula One where he appears confident and capable enough to lead a whole team to multiple years of dominance, yet still manages to appear warm and approachable enough for the average person to walk up to him and shake his hand. However, that amicable disposition was nowhere to be found during the qualifying rounds of Silverstone in 2017.
The Haas driver expressed displeasure at Hamilton’s antics during Q3, claiming that the Mercedes Silver Arrow intentionally impeded his progress and blocked him – causing him valuable lap time.
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 15, 2017
In the video below, one can clearly observe Hamilton slowing down far, far in advance to the left-hand turn that he’s about to make. The moment that Grosjean enters the frame, barreling toward the turn, Hamilton changes his line harshly and gasses it, blocking Grosjean’s entry. The stewards have taken no action against Hamilton, which have caused Grosjean to voice his discontent – saying that the Mercedes driver escaped justice due to his title fight with Sebastian Vettel (and now Valtteri Bottas).
But, back to Wolff. The typically calm and resolute German team lead was all too ready to comment on the situation, harshly saying that Grosjean would be wise to count his blessings, given the scraps he’s gotten himself into in the past:
“There are some that moan all the time. They just continue moaning. I don’t want to even comment. If Romain Grosjean comes out and starts asking for penalties for other drivers, you should rather look at his track record. He should be happy he is driving in F1.” – Toto Wolff
Wolff’s comments do raise the question of why the typically reserved lead has chosen to comment in such a manner. While he is completely within his rights to do so, it does betray the aura of composure that he has cultivated over such a long period. Perhaps things in the Mercedes garage have truly begun to heat up, and Wolff is finding himself having to work harder to keep a lid on frustrations that may be bubbling underneath.
While the Silver Arrows lead managed only a slight jab at Grosjean, Haas Team Principal Gunther Steiner is going straight for the throat, calling for a penalty against Hamilton:
“If you step back and ask yourself, what would they have done if Romain had done that to Hamilton? That I think should answer that. Something needs to be done. Because if he says, ‘that wouldn’t have made your position better’. I know. But if we would have impeded Hamilton, if we get penalized, it means a lot to us because we go back on the grid and we lose points. We both have something to lose, so don’t do it.” – Gunther Steiner
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) July 15, 2017
Hamilton himself has yet to offer an explanation as to why he had slowed down to the extent that he did before turning. The only possible excuse that he could come up with was that he had slowed down to address an issue in the car before accelerating through the turn. The only problem with that is that his timing seems far too deliberate in the footage to be written off as just a fluke of inopportune timing.