As tempers frayed at the British GP, Toto Wolff says Mercedes are “ready” for the rivalry that is Lewis Hamilton versus Max Verstappen.
After several close calls already this season, Hamilton and Verstappen finally had the big one that many predicted was coming, clashing at the British Grand Prix.
Racing for position on the opening lap, Hamilton challenged pole sitter Verstappen corner after corner until eventually he thought he had him into Copse.
But instead of a clean pass, there was contract and Verstappen was sent flying off the track.
Hurtling through the gravel trap, he had an impact at 51G.
Hamilton was handed a 10-second time penalty, deemed responsible by the stewards, but that did nothing to stop the Brit from racing to an eighth British GP win.
In doing so he slashed his deficit to Verstappen in the title race to just eight points.
“This championship was always very intense,” Wolff told Crash.net.
“We are fighting with everything we have in order to hold on to it whilst knowing that we are not performing as well as Red Bull and Honda.
“Therefore, we have had big points losses in the past and here we scored big points so that is always balancing itself out.”
But don’t expect Wolff to do anything to calm the situation.
Asked if it is important to defuse the tension, he replied with a smile: “Why? You would love that, no? It’s a lot to write about! I’m ready, let’s go for this.”
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) July 18, 2021
While it remains to be seen whether the crash will lead to a gloves-off approach to future battles between the title protagonists, Wolff reckons both played a role in Sunday’s crash.
“It is a situation that I guess we all have seen in the past when great drivers race with each other,” he said.
“When nobody is prepared to give in, then these kind of situations can happen. But for me it takes two to tango.”