Toto Wolff on ‘shades of 2016’ suggestion over Lewis Hamilton-George Russell shunt

Jamie Woodhouse
Toto Wolff, Mercedes, showing his serious face. Saudi Arabia March 2023

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff showing his serious face. Saudi Arabia March 2023

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the Lewis Hamilton and George Russell collision during Spanish GP qualifying looked “silly”, but as for the suggestion of 2016 vibes, that is a situation he said the team could only dream of.

Hamilton was left with a damaged front wing on his Mercedes W14 after making contact with Russell in the other W14 as Q2 drew towards its conclusion.

With both drivers gearing up for a flying lap and Hamilton closing in on his team-mate with the help of a slipstream, Russell was unaware of Hamilton’s presence as his team-mate moved alongside him, Russell therefore drifting across and striking the sister W14.

Russell would be eliminated at the end of that session, while Hamilton did progress to Q3, but did need a new front wing with the previous one wrecked as a result of the incident.

Team boss Wolff put the whole thing down to “miscommunications”, which admittedly made for a shunt that looked “silly”.

“It’s all down to miscommunications because drivers in the same team don’t want to crash into each other on their final lap in qualifying,” Wolff explained, as per

“It was just an unfortunate situation that George just launched the lap and Lewis saw it as his last opportunity, and didn’t think that George was on that lap. So it looks silly, but it wasn’t. It was just miscommunication.

“This is a team’s effort and something in our communications we need to review after the incident to avoid it in the future. But it was not a dramatic situation. The car was just not quick enough.” recommends

Nico Rosberg calls for Lewis Hamilton apology after George Russell qualifying clash

Lewis Hamilton reveals extent of damage after George Russell Spain collision

Mercedes and Hamilton do have previous when it comes to team-mates colliding at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, and when the Mercedes machinery was plenty fast enough.

Back in 2016, it was Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, who has told Hamilton to apologise to Russell over this incident, who took each other out of the Spanish Grand Prix on the opening lap, opening the door for Max Verstappen to win on his Red Bull debut.

This time around though, Wolff was left thinking about what he would not give to be in that situation again, where Mercedes were Formula 1’s dominant force, rather than their predicament now as they battle with Aston Martin and Ferrari for ‘best-of-the-rest’ status behind Red Bull.

“No, it wasn’t shades of 2016,” Wolff affirmed. “I wish we were in the situation of 2016, where we were losing both cars in lap one because we are so quick.

“In the end, it was a trivial incident that just looked silly.”

Skipping forward to the here and now of the 2023 Spanish GP, Hamilton has every chance of securing a strong result as he launches from P4 on the grid, while Russell has plenty of work to do from P12.