Guenther Steiner says Toto Wolff “showed who was in command” in Formula 1 in his radio message to race director Michael Masi.
Nikita Mazepin was in the process of being lapped by Lewis Hamilton at the Spanish Grand Prix, with the Mercedes driver leading and extending his stint after Max Verstappen had pitted the lap before.
Wolff’s message was broadcast live on TV during the race, with the Mercedes team principal saying: “Mikey, blue flags, blue flags! Michael, this guy makes us lose the position.”
Haas driver Mazepin had been given a five-second penalty in Portugal for ignoring blue flags, but Steiner defended his driver and said Wolff was just wanting “publicity” out of the message.
Asked about Wolff’s communication after the race, Steiner said: “Nikita told me. I didn’t hear the message. They just told me in the debrief that Toto said something, but I don’t know exactly why he said it because I don’t know the circumstances.
“I think Nikita did a good job to get out of it and maybe Toto being Toto just wanted to make sure that he showed who is in command here and that everybody should move when he is coming along.
“He didn’t let his guys do that work. He wanted a bit of publicity I guess.”
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Mick Schumacher had a promising start to the race and, barring a pit-stop issue, pulled his car serenely through to the chequered flag. Mazepin did the same, but did not challenge the cars in front – finishing a full 50 seconds behind his team-mate.
Despite both drivers getting over the line, Steiner wasn’t overly thrilled with how the team’s race panned out.
“I wouldn’t say [I was] pleased,” he explained. “At a race weekend like this, you will never see me pleased or happy but on the other side, we have to see the good things.
“We finished with both cars, no damage, everything was good so for sure we did some laps, they did some learning again and at the start both guys did a good job.
“Mick, I think he made up four or five positions straight away and Nikita made up, I think, two but then realised there was no point in being aggressive and damaging the car. He wanted to race to the end just to get the laps in.
“So obviously, we couldn’t fight with the Williams. We were overtaken clearly on the straights so we couldn’t do a lot.
“But all in all, we got our laps done so on that side we are happy but when you beat somebody in qualifying and then in the race you fall back, you cannot be happy.”