Toto Wolff has hit out at McLaren over their “whinge” about Valtteri Bottas’ pit-lane spin that earned him a grid penalty for the Styrian Grand Prix.
In FP2, Bottas, experimenting with launching his Mercedes W12 in second gear from the pit box, spun just after getting into motion and came to rest adjacent to the McLaren garage and pit wall.
McLaren team manager Paul James got on to race director Michael Masi and was heard saying: “That’s absolutely ridiculous…he could have taken our guys out there, and the pit wall.”
“Agree,” replied Masi, who hit Bottas with a three-place grid penalty for a “potentially dangerous” incident which means he will start fifth instead of his qualifying position of second for the race at the Red Bull Ring.
Mercedes F1 team principal and co-owner Wolff was on the same page as Bottas regarding McLaren’s reaction, with the Finn having said after qualifying: “Other teams, when they see the opportunity, complain it’s dangerous etc so that we would get penalised. Everyone is always trying to screw you over in this sport.”
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Wolff also thought the response had been over the top. Quoted by RaceFans, he said: “It’s highly entertaining how quickly some sporting directors jump on the channel to Masi and come with Armageddon scenarios. It’s good that these channels are now opened up so we can all have a laugh.
“On the flip side of the thing, Valtteri spun in the pit lane and could have hurt somebody. And whether this is walking speed, like it happened yesterday, it still can hurt somebody severely. And I understand the penalty too.
“I find it harsh, particularly against someone like Valtteri who is never putting a foot wrong.
“He was very honest and straightforward with his explanation. Others would have come out and said ‘I don’t know what happened, the banner on the floor, the sponsorship on the floor was slippy and you really need to change the way you paint because I had no idea what could happen’. He came out and said ‘I tried to optimise my starts and I lost it’.
“So we should have a little bit more integrity, like Valtteri has, around the paddock. Including some of the ones that push the button very quickly and moan about everybody else and whinge.”