Wolff doubles down on Max’s ‘tactical foul’ accusation

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen's Red Bull on top of Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes at the Italian GP. Monza September 2021.

Max Verstappen's Red Bull on top of Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes as they crash during the Italian Grand Prix. Monza September 2021.

Toto Wolff, who accused Max Verstappen of a “tactical foul” at Monza, has doubled down, calling it an “action to prevent” Lewis Hamilton from winning.

Verstappen and Hamilton crashed out of the Italian Grand Prix, the title rivals involved in a mid-race collision at the Rettifilo chicane.

Finding themselves fighting for position after tardy pit stops, Verstappen tried to pass Hamilton around the outside before going wheel-to-wheel with the Mercedes driver through the inside in the second part of the chicane.

But with no room, he mounted the kerbs and climbed over the top of Hamilton’s W12.

Neither driver scored a single point, with Wolff in the immediate aftermath accusing Verstappen of committing a “tactical foul”, words that left Christian Horner “disappointed”.

Days later, though, the Mercedes motorsport boss appears to still feel the same about the collision.

“The collision was avoided in one case and not in the other,” he told AutoHebdo. “There are stewards, they have spoken.

“These two boys are some of the very best and the real question is how many actions to prevent an opponent from winning do we want to see in the future?

“You have to set a precedent so that everyone is well aware that the other is not preventing the other from scoring by simply ending their race.

“They can fight hard, but still leave room to avoid an accident.

“Max had a very severe off at Silverstone and here Lewis was very lucky to have the Halo to protect him.

“I don’t know what would have happened a few years ago and I don’t even want to think about it because the consequences could have been terrible.”

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Verstappen was hit with a three-place grid penalty for the next race, the Russian Grand Prix, as the stewards declared that he was “predominantly” to blame for the collision.

Wolff agrees, jokingly adding that he wished their race-ending crash had rather happened when they first tangled on the opening lap as that would have meant less pointless kilometres on Hamilton’s engine.

“Lewis gave him plenty of room at Turn 4 on lap 1 to avoid a collision,” he said. “Looking back, it would have been better if the accident had happened at this time; which would have at least allowed us to put less kilometers to the engine.

“When the situation turned around, when Max could have avoided contact by reacting the same as Lewis at Turn 4, he didn’t.”

As what Formula 1 can do to stop the title protagonists from again colliding later in the season, Wolff says it is up to Hamilton and Verstappen to come to an agreement on how to race without incident.

“We have seen similar incidents in the past between two drivers fighting for the championship,” he said.

“We have to find a “modus operandi” that will keep the confrontations under control, but that can only come from them.

“Lewis and Max must find the right way to face each other. Until they find it, there will be trouble.”

Verstappen heads to the Sochi Autodrom five points ahead of Hamilton in the title race.


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