Toto Wolff defends Lewis Hamilton after Logan Sargeant ‘big crash’ near-miss

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes garage looking at data.

Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes garage.

With only Logan Sargeant’s swerve preventing a high-speed collision, Toto Wolff admits Lewis Hamilton’s actions in FP2 in Saudi Arabia were “dangerous” but it was not deliberate.

Mercedes were fined €15,000 while Hamilton was given a warning for the incident that could’ve ended in a “big crash”.

‘Nobody does that on purpose, especially not Lewis’

Putting in the laps in Thursday’s second practice at the high-speed Jeddah circuit, Hamilton was moving slowly through Turn 10 when Sargeant arrived at speed and was forced off track to avoid the Mercedes driver.

Quickly on to the radio, Hamilton said: “I didn’t realise someone was on a lap. I was trying to get out of the way for [Carlos] Sainz and, all of a sudden, there was a Williams there.”

Mercedes and Hamilton were called to see the stewards after FP2 with the team fined as the stewards declared had Sargeant not taken drastic action, “there would have been a serious, high-speed crash”. Hamilton was also given a warning.

“I saw the moment, but I don’t know if Lewis got the message that Sargeant was coming,” Wolff told Sky Germany.

“In any case, it was dangerous and it could have resulted in a big crash, but nobody does that on purpose, especially not Lewis.”

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Mercedes finished Thursday’s practice second and eight with George Russell four-tenths up on Hamilton.

“If you listen to the drivers, you hear that the car is not perfect. The car bounces and has problems with aerodynamic balance,” Wolff said.

“The drivers lack confidence, but I think you heard that on every team radio.

“We drove with two totally different set-ups and it turned out that with Lewis it doesn’t work at all. We are going to change that towards qualifying.

“The car is getting faster and faster in terms of lap time, so we have to think carefully about what we do for qualifying.

“It’s hard to say where we stand. I think eight cars will be very close together, there might again be only three-tenths between those positions.”

Hamilton confirmed he was lacking confidence in the car, saying: “Difficult day; just lacking confidence in the rear of the car.

“On the set-up we did some work session to session, changed the car quite a bit but [there is] the underlying issue with the rear end that I’m struggling with, so I had a couple of really big moments out there.

“In these high-speed areas you’ve got to have full faith in the car and I just don’t have that yet.”

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