Wolff details Mercedes process after appeal intent

Mark Scott
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff being interviewed. December 2021

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has given an insight into the thought process that went on behind the scenes after the team signalled their intent to appeal the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix result.

Complete and utter radio silence fell on the Mercedes camp after they lodged an intent to appeal the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix result which ultimately saw the Drivers’ World Championship title wrestled away from Lewis Hamilton by Max Verstappen on the very last lap of the season in very controversial circumstances.

The signal of intent created a 96-hour window for Mercedes to decide once and for all whether they would go down the International Court of Appeal route and take the World Championship battle away from the track and into the courtroom.

But, on Thursday morning with the deadline fast approaching, Mercedes officially withdrew their intent to appeal – with Lewis Hamilton reportedly telling the Silver Arrows he did not want to potentially win an record eighth World Championship title in this manner.

With Verstappen united with his World Championship title later that day and Mercedes breaking their own self-enforced silence, the dust has finally started to settle on a season like no other.

Amongst the period of reflection has been some insight from Wolff about exactly what was going on in the Mercedes camp during those few days of silence.

“After the race, I called Jean Todt and [FIA secretary general] Peter Bayer and said that I didn’t agree with this decision,” Wolff told reporters in a press conference on Thursday, as quoted by Motorsport.com.

“Of course I knew that it was purely a personal emotion, because we had to sort out the legal remedies and whether we could protest at all, or against what. And we did that immediately in my office.

“We got all the engineers, lawyers, Ola [Kallenius, Daimler chairman], just all together and decided to file this protest.

“Ron Meadows and the team went to see the stewards twice, at the invitation of the stewards. And then we waited for the decision, which was negative.

“And then it was a matter of going back to the hotel and sulking, or thinking about what had happened. Or, on the other hand, to celebrate an eighth constructors’ title with the team.

“And that’s what I did – trying to push aside the frustration about the decision that cost the drivers’ world title, until the next day.”

Wolff did confirm that Hamilton was involved in the discussions on what the next step should be, in light of the aforementioned rumours that the seven-time World Champion did not want to potentially win title number eight in the courts.

“We’ve spent all the last few days being in dialogue with the FIA, with Lewis and Ola and his colleagues to make the right decision,” Wolff revealed.

“And we’ve vacillated over and over again in those days between, ‘We’re going to go through with this appeal’ and ‘We’re going to pull back despite all the anger and just try to make the sport better and use this moment to just make the decision-making more robust’.

“The final decision to withdraw the appeal was made on Wednesday evening.”

 

Mercedes decision on protest

Toto Wolff has explained the process behind the decision to drop the protest.