Toto Wolff delivers his verdict on Lewis Hamilton’s Belgian Grand Prix penalty

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton got his Mercedes alongside the Red Bull of Sergio Perez. Belgium July 2023. F1 News

Lewis Hamilton got his Mercedes alongside the Red Bull of Sergio Perez. Belgium July 2023

Toto Wolff has declared it takes “two to tango” after Lewis Hamilton was slapped with a five-second penalty at Spa’s Sprint race for causing a collision that left a hole in Sergio Perez’s sidepod.

Running fourth and fifth at a sodden Spa-Francorchamps circuit, Hamilton tried to pull off a pass before the Stavelot corner.

With Perez running slightly wide, Hamilton got his Mercedes alongside the Red Bull and they ran wheel-to-wheel into Stavelot only for Hamilton to slide slightly which resulted in his left front wheel hitting Perez’s sidepod.

Toto Wolff: It takes two to tango, but it’s a racing incident

Additional reporting Thomas Maher and Sam Cooper

Perez initially stayed ahead but moments later lost P4 to Hamilton with Charles Leclerc also pouncing. Red Bull informed Perez he had a hole in his sidepod and told him to retire the car.

Shortly after the FIA announced a five-second penalty for Hamilton that meant although he crossed the line in fourth place, he dropped to P7 in the official classification.

Wolff wasn’t impressed.

“Absolute racing incident,” insisted the Mercedes motorsport boss to the media, including PlanetF1. “This is a sprint race. We want to see them racing, and the argument of the damage isn’t valid because he [Perez] was going backward before then. Massively backward.

“I think when you look at that corner, they were side-by-side. And yeah, fair enough, it takes two to tango, but it’s a racing incident. For me, that’s pretty clear.”

With Hamilton seventh and his team-mate George Russell P8, Mercedes scored three points at a race that was one again won by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

As the Dutchman continues to wrack up the P1s this season, Red Bull having won every one of this year’s Grands Prix and Sprints, Wolff said: “I don’t know what our dominance was similar or less, I think we had years where we did it in the same way but at least we had two cars that were fighting each other.

“So that caused a little bit of entertainment for everyone. And that’s not the case at the moment. recommends

F1 penalty points: One driver has points added and takes unwanted P1 from Pierre Gasly

F1 2023: Head-to-head qualifying and race stats between team-mates

“So it is what it is. Like I often say it’s a meritocracy, and it’s up to us to fight back. Did we expect that gap? Certainly not. I think with the last step of upgrades they seem to have made another advantage that they are able to exploit.

“But that always gets me back to the point of we just got to dig in and do the best possible job.”

Mercedes will line up on the Belgian Grand Prix grid with Hamilton P3 and Russell eighth with Mercedes trailing Red Bull by 226 points to 460 in the Constructors Championship.

Read next: Christian Horner: Lewis Hamilton ‘put a big hole’ in Sergio Perez’s sidepod