Toto Wolff reveals if Lewis Hamilton clash will affect contract talks

Max Verstappen dominated the Austrian Grand Prix but it was Lewis Hamilton’s frustrations that grabbed the headlines.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has stated that his public reprimand of Lewis Hamilton during the Austrian Grand Prix will have no impact on the British driver’s future with the team. 

As Max Verstappen secured his seventh victory out of nine rounds, delivering a commanding performance at Red Bull’s home race in Spielberg and extending his championship lead to 81 points, Hamilton crossed the finish line in a disappointing seventh place.

Hamilton’s day went from bad to worse when his original five-second penalty was upgraded to 10 seconds, resulting in his demotion to eighth place in the final classification. 

The penalty was given due to Hamilton exceeding track limits more times than initially recorded. 

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The FIA announced additional penalties for eight drivers, including Hamilton, five hours after the race concluded.

During the race, Hamilton questioned why some of his rivals, particularly Sergio Perez, were not penalized for similar infringements. 

He also expressed frustration with the underperforming speed of his Mercedes car. 

Wolff, who rarely communicates with his drivers over the radio, was heard twice addressing Hamilton during the race, telling him, “Lewis, the car is bad, we know. Just please drive it.”

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When asked about Wolff’s remarks, Hamilton’s response was brief, stating, “I don’t know. You will have to ask him.” 

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

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

“That was nothing… It was only for the best interest of the driver and the team.”

Mercedes had a challenging weekend in Austria, with Hamilton finishing 10th in the Sprint on Saturday, while his teammate George Russell secured eighth place in the shortened race and seventh in the main event, benefitting from Hamilton’s penalty. 

Hamilton’s winless streak has now reached 32 races. 

Despite previously suggesting that Hamilton’s contract extension would be signed within days, Wolff confirmed that there would be no news regarding the extension at Silverstone.

Regarding the contract negotiations, Wolff emphasised that it is not solely a financial matter but rather a discussion about the future direction of the team. 

He stated, “We are not talking anymore about money, or duration, it is about other topics… I am still very confident it will get done. We want to do it super, and to every detail.”

The Austrian Grand Prix began positively for Hamilton as he moved up to fifth place and overtook Lando Norris at the opening corner. 

However, he faced penalties for exceeding track limits on three occasions, receiving a black-and-white warning flag and a five-second penalty. 

READ: Sky F1 slammed for not airing Hamilton-Verstappen incident

Hamilton took his penalty during his second pit stop, dropping to eighth place. 

Despite passing Pierre Gasly and finishing ahead of him, Hamilton could not make significant progress, crossing the finish line half a minute behind Fernando Alonso.

Reflecting on his car’s performance, Hamilton expressed surprise, 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.”