Mercedes F1 boss Wolff aims to defuse Hamilton tension: “We’re trying to do the best out of the relationship and maximise the results for what is the final season”

Photo Credits: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team
Spread the love

Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix may have been a predictable procession for many but what may not have been predicted is a potential rift starting to build at Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton has voiced his concern over being treated differently to teammate George Russell. However, Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff insists that  Lewis Hamilton has every right to be skeptical about potential preferential treatment but insists that “as a team we are 100% on a mission of giving the two drivers two great cars.”

Lewis Hamilton had already hit the headlines the previous day after qualifying when he said, “I don’t anticipate being ahead of George in qualifying particularly this year, but we’ve just got to keep pushing, and the races are strong.”

This remark was interpreted by many that it was Hamilton indicating that he is now below Russell in the pecking order due to the fact the seven-time F1 Drivers’ World Champion leaves Mercedes for Scuderia Ferrari at the end of the season.

Before any further speculation can continue, Wolff has been quick to defuse the situation as shown in his post-race remarks in Monaco.

The man steering the ship at Mercedes was asked as to whether Hamilton’s comments regarding  Russell were a sign that there was some paranoia creeping in.

“Aren’t all drivers a bit skeptical at times?” quipped Wolff. “I think as a team we have demonstrated even in the most tense competitions between team-mates that we are trying to always balance it right, and be transparent and fair.”

At this point Wolff made reference to the only time when the team had stepped in.

Back in 2016, in the final race of the season, Hamilton was leading the race and slowed his pace considerably in the hope that Nico Rosberg in P2 would be caught and overtaken – thereby giving the Championship to Hamilton.

Instead, having seen Hamilton’s drop in pace and a potential GP victory at risk due to a charging Sebastian Vettel, Mercedes instructed Hamilton to pick up the pace, calling Vettel an “imminent threat”. Hamilton however ignored the requests and replied: “I suggest you guys let us race.”

Wolff made reference to this in his most recent Monaco post-race remarks as he admitted “I think there was not a moment, apart from the 2016 Abu Dhabi GP, where we tried to manage a race, and we haven’t done since then.”

Wolff went on to say that he can understand why as a driver you would want the best out of yourself and the team, and sometimes when it’s going against you, you can call things into question. But Wolff made clear that this is not the case at Mercedes.

“As a team we are 100% on a mission of giving the two drivers two great cars, the best possible cars and best possible strategies and support.”

Hamilton though may query this after his Monaco GP saw miscommunication on team radio result in a slow out lap after pitting when in fact pace should have been at optimum.

Wolff responded to the allegation of tension within the team and once again said everyone wants to deliver the best that they can.

“We’re trying to do the best out of the relationship, and trying to maximise the results for what is the final season. And like always between drivers, it can be tense at times because everybody wants to do the best.”

Despite the fact that Russell has outqualified Hamilton seven to one so far this season, Wolff reminded the media that there is a long way to go and does not feel this will remain the case all season – even if Hamilton thinks otherwise.

“I don’t think there is a specific explanation for the statistic, but it’s still a statistic,” Wolff said. “We are seven races in and there are another 17 to go. I’ve not seen this as a trend.”

The next Grand Prix sees F1 return to Canada, a venue which Hamilton has won seven times at – albeit his latest victory there was in 2019. Hamilton will return to Canada with the new Mercedes front wing which Russell benefited from in Monaco. With both cars on a level playing field, fans will be eagerly waiting to see which Mercedes driver comes out on top.