Guenther Steiner recalls the day Toto Wolff ‘almost had a foking heart attack’

Michelle Foster
Guenther Steiner sitting with Toto Wolff who has his head bowed. Turkey November 2000

Guenther Steiner sitting with Toto Wolff who has his head bowed. Turkey November 2000

Guenther Steiner reckons Toto Wolff “almost had a foking heart attack” as the 2021 Abu Dhabi finale played out, but the Haas boss says F1 needs to “move on” from it.

As a petition to overturn the result of Abu Dhabi 2021 and crown Lewis Hamilton that year’s Drivers’ Championship reached 100,000 signatures, an extract from Steiner’s ‘Surviving to Drive’ reveals his thoughts on the subject.

That Sunday Haas were short a driver, Nikita Mazepin having been withdrawn after testing positive for Covid, while their other driver Mick Schumacher was scrapping with Nicholas Latifi, that resulting in the crash that brought out the late Safety Car that changed the course of the grand prix.

Max Verstappen, running P2 to Hamilton in a winner-takes-all race, stopped for fresh tyres while Hamilton did not, Mercedes fearing he’d lose the lead.

But with then FIA race director Michael Masi setting up a final lap shoot-out in controversial circumstances, Hamilton’s old tyres were no match for Verstappen’s fresh rubber with the Dutchman passing him at Turn 4 to win the race and the World title.

Steiner reckons Wolff almost had a “foking heart attack” and concedes the events “didn’t stack up” for him. But, he feels, Formula 1 needs to “move on”. recommends

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“If I had a dollar from every person who has asked for my opinion on what happened between Lewis and Max in Abu Dhabi over the past six days, I’d be able to poach Adrian Newey,” Steiner wrote in ‘Surviving to Drive’.

“Not that I would,” he joked. “He’s far too exciting for me.

“After the race I had a few days visiting my mother and every person I saw in the town wanted to know what I thought.

“‘Why are you asking me?’ I said, ‘I was too busy concentrating on a Russian who didn’t finish the race and a German who was in fourteenth position’.

“What do I think, then? Well, it was certainly very confusing. I remember sitting on the pit wall listening to the orders from the race director and thinking, ‘What the hell is happening here?’

“At the time it didn’t stack up to me, but at the same time I didn’t know all the facts. It was very entertaining, though. Poor Toto almost had a foking heart attack!

“Look, at the end of the day, both teams have won a World Championship and good for them. Red Bull won the Drivers’ and Mercedes the Constructors’. I’d take either of those.

“Mercedes didn’t protest, so off we go. We move on.”

The Haas team boss also weighed in on race director Niels Wittich’s part in their 2022 United States Grand Prix protest being overturned.

Haas protested Fernando Alonso driving around with a damaged car with the then Alpine driver given a penalty, only for that to be overturned when it emerged Haas had submitted their appeal after the 30-minute deadline.

Steiner had been told by Wittich that he had an hour to submit it, the team boss revealing the race director has never apologised for that.

“When the race director says you have an hour you take his word for it,” wrote the Italian.

“What really annoys me is that when we had a meeting about it the race director denied saying what we thought he’d said and wouldn’t even apologise.

“And he’s the race director, for fok’s sake!

“If he’d said, ‘okay guys, look, I’m afraid I foked up’, we’d have been okay about it.”