Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff acknowledged that his team takes responsibility for their part in the incident involving Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in Austria. However, he believes Verstappen made a deliberate effort to seek revenge.
The sprint shootout session in Austria had contrasting outcomes for Verstappen and Hamilton. Verstappen secured a comfortable pole position, while Hamilton failed to progress beyond the SQ1 session due to Verstappen’s involvement. Hamilton had one final opportunity to improve his time but was warned by Mercedes over the radio that Verstappen would be closing in quickly. As predicted, Verstappen approached Hamilton’s car at Turn 10 and complained that Hamilton had impeded his progress through the corner.
“He blocked me into the last corner, so I had to brake more and I lost like three-tenths,” Verstappen told reporters. “So that wasn’t ideal, and I think not correct.
“There was still a few seconds left on the clock so I didn’t know if my lap time was going to be safe and I wanted to continue.
“But ran out of time, space, with the two cars like that, which was a bit of a shame.”
Verstappen subsequently returned the favor, sliding by Hamilton into Turn 1 and thus eliminating Hamilton’s prospects of recording a quicker time, ensuring he was eliminated in SQ1.
Toto Wolff admitted that his team takes responsibility for the initial incident involving Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, acknowledging that their communication with Hamilton played a role. However, Wolff criticized Verstappen’s response, referring to it as a “revenge foul.” Although the stewards did not take any action at the time, Wolff anticipates that the matter will be discussed during the upcoming drivers’ briefing before the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
“The mistake happened on our side,” said Wolff as per Sky F1. “The communication between us and Lewis didn’t give him the right information to get out of Max’s way.
“I think no one wants to be in anybody’s way because if you impede, you’re getting penalised, so that was not the aim.
“On the other side, Turn 1 was a revenge foul [by Verstappen]. It was just to make sure that his [Hamilton’s] lap was ruined.
“So one was not intentional, the other one was intentional – but who cares? At the end, we looked at whether it was going to change our race or not…
“But I think they’re going to talk about it at the drivers’ briefing next week.”