Toto Wolff opens up on ‘terminated’ incident in Saudi Arabia

Mercedes have had a disappointing season thus far in 2023, as Lewis Hamilton and George Russell continue to struggle.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has revealed that he’s only ever actually “terminated” one pair of headphones, which he was wearing during the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

In recent years, fans have become accustomed to seeing the Austrian throwing his headphones on the desk, most notably during Lewis Hamilton’s titanic 2021 title battle with Max Verstappen.

It’s somewhat remarkably that only one pair was broken beyond the point where they could be repaired, then again, the 2021 Saudi Arabian GP was a dramatic affair.

The Jeddah Corniche Circuit hosted the penultimate round of the season, with Hamilton having been behind Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship.

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He knew though, that beating the Dutchman in Saudi Arabia, would see the duo enter the final round in Abu Dhabi level on points.

Hamilton claimed pole after Verstappen crashed in Q3, with the Dutchman in P3.

Hamilton led the opening stages until he pitted whilst behind a Safety Car, following a heavy crash for Mick Schumacher.

He rejoined the track behind Verstappen, when the red flag was suddenly flown moments later.

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This allowed Verstappen to change tyres during the stoppage, and also restart the race from pole position.

A second red flag was flown after the restart, due to a multi-car crash on the exit of Turn 2, involving Sergio Perez and George Russell.

Remarkably, Esteban Ocon restarted the race from pole with Hamilton in second and Verstappen in third, after the Dutchman was demoted behind the Mercedes driver after the 25-year-old gained an advantage following the first restart.

It seemingly didn’t matter though, as Verstappen went from P3 to P1 at the first corner when the race got back underway once again.

Hamilton was in third but quickly got past Ocon for P2, before hunting down his Red Bull rival.

The seven-time World Champion was quicker than the Dutchman and attempted a move around the outside at the opening corner, only for Verstappen to force them both off the circuit.

Following the incident, Red Bull asked him to give the position to Hamilton; however, the British driver wasn’t informed of this.

As a result, when Verstappen slowed down suddenly to allow Hamilton past, the Mercedes driver went straight into the back of the two-time World Champion.

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It was at this moment that Wolff destroyed his headphones, although he would’ve wished that he hadn’t as Verstappen was slapped with a five-second time penalty.

Hamilton did actually get past Verstappen anyway, to claim victory.

“I’ve broken a few [sets of headphones], but the only one I really terminated was in Saudi Arabia 2021,” Wolff revealed during a TikTok Q&A.