Wolff downplays Silverstone repeat between Lewis and Max

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton head to head. Zandvoort September 2021

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton head to head at the Dutch Grand Prix. Zandvoort September 2021

Starting on the front row of the Dutch GP grid, Toto Wolff has downplayed concerns that Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton are on a collision course.

For the first time since the British Grand Prix, Verstappen and Hamilton have locked out the front row of the grid at the Zandvoort circuit.

Verstappen, much to the delight of his Dutch fans, will be starting his home race from pole position with Hamilton alongside him.

The last time the duo were 1-2 on the grid, they went wheel-to-wheel on the opening lap at Silverstone, resulting in a huge crash for Verstappen.

Wolff, however, has downplayed concerns that another wheel-to-wheel tussle could have similar consequences.

“I think the two protagonists will start side-by-side more often this season, and I don’t think we can really assume it will always end up in an incident,” he said, as quoted GPFans.

“They are both among the best ones and they know that every win counts and they will do it fair and square but hard.

“In a way, we need to stop referring to the Silverstone incident because we are going to do this another five times this year when they are side-by-side.

“We don’t need to refer back to him [Hamilton] on how to drive or what is at stake because he knows best.”

Hamilton lines up on the Dutch Grand Prix grid three points ahead of Verstappen in the battle for this year’s World title.

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But while Verstappen is on pole position for Sunday’s race, Mercedes have the numbers advantage at the front of the grid.

Valtteri Bottas is joining Hamilton at the front, having qualified P3, while Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez is at the back of the grid.

The Mexican driver didn’t make it out of Q1, prompting Red Bull and Honda to opt for a strategic engine change that will potentially mean no other engine related grid penalties for the rest of the year.

Team boss Christian Horner is well aware of Mercedes’ numerical advantage.

“If you look at the start, we’ve got the two Mercedes right behind Max, so they’ll be able to split up their strategies,” he told Speedweek. “It is therefore important that we concentrate on our own race.”