Toto Wolff breaks silence on tensions with Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has opened up on rumoured tensions with Lewis Hamilton.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has downplayed the impact of his public rebuke towards Lewis Hamilton during the Austrian Grand Prix, assuring that it will have no bearing on the British driver’s future with the team. 

As Red Bull’s Max Verstappen secured his seventh victory of the season, extending his championship lead by 81 points, Hamilton endured a disappointing race, finishing seventh before being demoted to eighth due to a penalty upgrade.

Hamilton was penalised for exceeding track limits, and further penalties were imposed on him and seven other drivers after the race. 

Throughout the event, Hamilton questioned why some of his rivals, including Sergio Perez, were not sanctioned, expressing frustration with the performance of his under-performing Mercedes car. 

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Wolff, who rarely communicates with his drivers via the radio, was heard twice addressing Hamilton during the race.

“Lewis, the car is bad, we know,” said Wolff during his second radio transmission. “Just please drive it.” 

When asked about Wolff’s remark, Hamilton responded curtly, stating, “I don’t know. You will have to ask him.” 

With six months remaining on his £40 million-a-season contract, speculation arose about the incident’s impact on contract negotiations.

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However, Wolff dismissed any concerns, stating, “No, not at all. You should hear us talking on the phone and meeting each other. 

“That was nothing. We have had a bad weekend, all of us in the team, and that just makes us stronger. It was only for the best interest of the driver and the team. 

“Sometimes there is a certain moment when you need to calm things down but I meant well. 

“We had a lot of discussion about track limits and whether they were enforced or not. 

“I wanted to make sure we were getting the best out of the package that wasn’t performing, and trying to give it our best shot.”

The Austrian Grand Prix proved challenging for Mercedes as a whole. Hamilton finished 10th in the Sprint race, while his teammate, George Russell, secured eighth place in the shortened race and seventh in the main event, benefiting from Hamilton’s penalty. 

Hamilton’s winless streak has now extended to 32 races, but Wolff confirmed that news of a contract extension will not be announced at Silverstone this weekend, despite previous expectations.

“I am still very confident it will get done,” said Wolff. 

“We want to do it super, and to every detail. 

“This is not a money discussion. It is about the future, what is it that we want to do right, and then optimise. 

“We are not talking anymore about money, or duration, it is about other topics.” When pressed on the duration of Hamilton’s next contract, Wolff responded, 

“For a while. The Brits say a couple means two, and the Americans say a couple means a few, so it is somewhere there. Several.”

Hamilton’s race started positively as he overtook Lando Norris at the opening corner after starting fifth. 

However, he incurred penalties for exceeding track limits on three separate occasions, receiving a warning flag and a subsequent five-second penalty. 

READ: Toto Wolff reveals if Lewis Hamilton clash will affect contract talks

Hamilton served the penalty during his second pit stop, dropping him to eighth place. 

Despite gaining one position due to Pierre Gasly’s tire change, Hamilton was unable to make progress and finished the race half a minute behind Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin.

Reflecting on the race, Hamilton expressed surprise at the performance of his car, stating, “The feeling with the car was the same as I had last year. I didn’t expect to be as bad as we were today. It is surprising