Toto Wolff claims Lewis Hamilton has more fans because of ‘robbery’

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has opened up about the team’s and Lewis Hamilton's “stolen” 2021 title.

More than 18 months after the dramatic conclusion of the 2021 F1 season, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has opened up about the controversial title loss to Max Verstappen and Red Bull. 

The infamous Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finale saw Verstappen snatch the championship from Lewis Hamilton’s grasp on the final lap, a moment that remains one of the most divisive in Formula 1 history. 

Despite the disappointment, Wolff believes that Mercedes won the hearts and minds of many fans due to the season-long thrilling title battle.

The title showdown between Hamilton and Verstappen was a roller-coaster ride, with both drivers showing exceptional skill and determination throughout the season. 

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

However, it was Verstappen who emerged as the victor, capitalising on a “human error” by former race director Michael Masi during a safety car period, which ultimately changed the course of the race.

While Wolff has previously expressed his preference not to dwell on the past and the loss, he acknowledged that the injustice of the situation still stings. 

In a recent appearance on BBC Radio’s Desert Island Discs, Wolff emphasised that the outcome of the race was a disappointment due to feeling that the title was “stolen” rather than being lost fairly.

“We would have rather won the championship, but today we have more fans,” Wolff remarked, highlighting the silver lining from the situation. 

Article continues below

He explained that both drivers entered the race with equal points and that the best driver and machine should have emerged victorious. 

However, in his view, the outcome was marred by the “human error” and a sense of unfairness.

The Mercedes boss further discussed the aftermath of the race and the involvement of the FIA’s new regime, with a new president being elected around that time. 

While the mistake was acknowledged as “human error,” it didn’t change the result, preventing Hamilton from securing his eighth world championship title.

Despite the disappointment, Wolff expressed resilience and the ability to overcome the setback, acknowledging that there are more significant issues in the world than losing a Formula 1 championship. 

He also highlighted the shared mentality between him and Hamilton when it comes to compartmentalising challenges and moving forward.

READ: Martin Brundle jumps to Lewis Hamilton’s defence with unwavering stance

In a lighter moment during the interview, Wolff touched on the topic of music preferences between him and Hamilton. 

While they generally share similar tastes, Wolff mentioned one song that divides them – AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.” 

He humorously recalled a proposal to play the song in the garage before races for the mechanics, but Hamilton’s response was less enthusiastic, saying, “It would make me puke!”