Toto Wolff ‘accepts’ Lewis Hamilton’s fate amid criticism

Lewis Hamilton has had a mixed 2023 season, but his fortunes have improved in recent races.

Sergio Perez expressed his discontent with Lewis Hamilton’s aggressive maneuver during the Belgian Sprint race, resulting in a collision that led to Perez’s retirement and Hamilton receiving a five-second time penalty. 

The incident occurred on Lap 7 of the 11-lap race when the Red Bull and Mercedes drivers were battling for fourth place. 

The contact between the front-left of Hamilton’s Mercedes and the right-hand sidepod of Perez’s Red Bull caused significant damage, forcing Perez out of the race prematurely.

Reflecting on the collision, Perez addressed the media, stating, “It was massive damage from contact from Lewis. 

Want to work in Formula 1? Browse the latest F1 job vacancies

“He just hit the whole right-hand side of the car, and it damaged the floor – and that was game over. 

“He ran out of grip and just went into the side of me. 

“It was unfortunate.”

Before the incident, Perez’s race was showing promising signs as he had been closing in on Pierre Gasly for a potential third-place finish. 

Article continues below

However, the Safety Car deployment due to the collision disrupted his progress and dashed his chances of securing a podium position.

Perez’s frustration stemmed from his perception that Hamilton was overly eager to recover lost ground in the short sprint race, leading to the risky maneuver that resulted in the collision. 

The Mexican driver acknowledged the nature of such short races, where drivers often feel compelled to take more significant risks to make progress quickly. 

However, he emphasised that it was disappointing to have his race ruined by Hamilton’s aggressive move.

The collision had significant consequences for both drivers, with Hamilton’s penalty dropping him from his initial fourth-place finish to seventh, narrowly ahead of his teammate George Russell. 

This turn of events brought further scrutiny to the incident and added to the tension between the Red Bull and Mercedes teams.

Red Bull Team Principal, Christian Horner, also commented on the incident, stating, “It’s a shame for Checo [Perez]. 

“He had made progress in the race and was looking competitive. 

“The contact with Lewis [Hamilton] caused substantial damage, which forced him to retire. It was an unfortunate outcome.”

READ: Furious Toto Wolff fires accusation at stewards after Lewis Hamilton punished

On the other hand, Mercedes Team Principal, Toto Wolff, acknowledged the responsibility that comes with such intense sprint races, saying, “The sprint format adds an extra layer of excitement and pressure. 

“In the heat of the moment, drivers are pushing hard, and incidents can occur. 

“We accept the penalty and will learn from this experience.”