Toto Wolff issues first official reaction to Lewis Hamilton v George Russell crash

Thomas Maher
Toto Wolff standing for the national anthem of Italy with the Mercedes team.

Toto Wolff standing for the national anthem of Italy with the Mercedes team.

Toto Wolff will be back in the F1 paddock in the United States, having missed the last two races due to a knee surgery.

The Austrian sat out the Japanese and Qatar Grands Prix as he recovered from his surgery at home in Monaco, meaning the Mercedes team boss wasn’t on the ground for the seismic collision between Lewis Hamilton and George Russell at Lusail.

The squabbling duo clashed at Turn 1 of the Qatar GP, resulting in Hamilton retiring immediately on the spot with Russell left to fight for a recovery drive back to fourth place.

Toto Wolff: Lewis Hamilton and George Russell won’t jeopardise the team

Speaking in his official preview of the United States Grand Prix, Wolff addressed the collision between his two drivers – offering his first opinion on the matter since his terse radio message to Russell telling him to concentrate shortly after the collision.

“We have a busy couple of weeks coming up as the season heads towards its conclusion, starting with a triple-header in the USA, Mexico, and Brazil,” Wolff said.

 “The last round in Qatar was a case of what might have been. As a team, you never want to see your cars collide. It was frustrating to leave a lot of points on the table, particularly as the pace of the car was strong.

“It was encouraging though to see how the drivers and the team reacted. Both Lewis and George know the team comes first and do not ever intend to jeopardise that. I am sure we will all grow from this moment. We’re now focused on Austin and making sure we get the most out of each upcoming weekend.

“COTA is one of the most challenging modern tracks and a real thrill for the drivers. We’ll be bringing a modified floor, which is the last significant update we will take to the track this year. It will hopefully bring a small gain but more importantly, is another milestone in setting our development path for W15.

 “The battle for second in the Constructors’ has become more intense in recent races. We will keep our heads down, keep pushing, and aim to score as many points as we can to increase our advantage.”

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Speaking on the Sky F1 podcast ahead of the Austin race, former Mercedes F1 driver Nico Rosberg said Wolff’s return will help restore some calm – the Austrian having learned some valuable lessons during his time managing Rosberg’s partnership with Hamilton as the pair fought over team supremacy between 2014 and ’16.

“That [the collision] would not have been ideal, because Toto is the only person there that can manage that,” he said.

“He’s the only person that will have the authority and respect to be able to handle that. He’s the right guy also to handle it because no one else can force them to sit down really and have a discussion and hit the table.

“I think it’d be very good for Toto to be back at the racetrack. What Toto can do is like, when they were back here in Monaco on Monday after Qatar, maybe he would have sat down with both or go visit Lewis in his apartment and have a sit down with George individually first. And then, ideally, you’d also sit them together.

“He’s had so much experience with managing teammates, so he knows what needs to be done. The most important for him is to be neutral, which was advice that Alain Prost gave him back in our time.

“He said the most important is never to take a side between the drivers and stay neutral because, once you take a side, it spirals out of control. I think Toto will have learned a lot. I’m sure he’ll be managing that well.”

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