Toto Wolff doesn’t believe Lewis Hamilton’s aggressive overtake on Max Verstappen at the Australian Grand Prix “was a bad one” despite the Red Bull driver’s complaints.
Pole-sitter Verstappen lost out to the Mercedes team-mates at the start of the Albert Park race, first as George Russell took the inside line into Turn 1 and the lead and then when Hamilton shouldered his way through at Turn 3 to run P2 behind his team-mate.
Verstappen was immediately onto the radio complaining that Hamilton had pushed him wide, a stance he stuck with in the post-race interviews.
Additional reporting by Michael Lamonato
“It’s quite clear in the rules what is allowed to do, what you’re allowed to do now on the outside,” he said. “But clearly it’s not followed.”
Hamilton, however, saw nothing wrong with his pass and said: “I didn’t run him off the road and he didn’t turn in on me so we didn’t touch and that’s racing.”
His team boss Wolff agrees there was nothing wrong with the overtake.
“We have lots of discussion in the past around racing rules,” the Austrian told the media including PlanetF1.com. “I don’t think that was a bad one.”
Wolff declares Red Bull’s pace with DRS ‘just mind-boggling’
Hamilton wasn’t able to keep Verstappen behind him for very long, the Dutchman using DRS to fly by on lap 12 to take the lead off the seven-time World Champion.
Much has been said of late about Red Bull’s “super-duper”, as Ted Kravitz put it, DRS that is said to be worth as much as three-tenths of a second over every other team’s DRS.
Wolff agrees it is mighty.
“They have a straight-line speed advantage with the DRS open that is just mind-boggling,” said the Mercedes motorsport boss.
“But this is the meritocracy of the sport and if you have a car that’s that quick on the straight because you’re doing the right things, then it’s up to us to sort this out and find the tools to improve the straight-line performance.”
Aus GP track ‘made us look a little bit better than we should be’
But while Hamilton couldn’t keep Verstappen at bay, the Briton was able to secure his and Mercedes first podium of this season as he raced to second place.
Wolff, however, concedes the nature of the track probably made the team’s W14 look better than it actually is.
“I think definitely an advantage for us,” he said of the Albert Park circuit.
“Our car lacks a little bit of performance in the rear end and the track definitely helped us so I think that made us look a little bit better than we should be.
“But we know where the weaknesses are and we just need to sort them out.”
After three races Hamilton is fourth in the Drivers’ Championship on 38 points, 31 behind Verstappen, while Mercedes are P3 in the Constructors’ standings with 56 points to Red Bull’s 123.