Toto Wolff says Lewis Hamilton will air dirty laundry with Max Verstappen

Mercedes have accused Max Verstappen of hampering Lewis Hamilton during qualifying in Austria.

Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, anticipates that the next drivers’ briefing will include a discussion about what he perceives as a retaliatory act by Max Verstappen against his driver Lewis Hamilton during the Austrian Grand Prix sprint qualifying. 

Wolff cited a “white line infringement” and subsequent miscommunication as factors contributing to Hamilton’s elimination in the first segment of qualifying and his subsequent non-points-paying 10th place finish in the race.

While initially hesitant to express overt frustration, Wolff later acknowledged his belief that Verstappen intentionally prevented Hamilton from having a final opportunity to improve his position. 

The incident occurred in the final seconds of the session when Verstappen, on a flying lap, encountered Hamilton on a slower preparatory lap at the final corner. 

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Verstappen passed Hamilton on the start-finish straight and effectively overtook him into Turn 1, intending to continue his push lap. 

However, Verstappen eventually abandoned the lap.

Verstappen explained, “He blocked me into the last corner, so I had to brake more and then I lost like three tenths. 

“So that wasn’t ideal. I think not correct. 

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“It was still a few seconds on the clock, so I wasn’t sure about my laptime, if I was going to be safe, so I wanted to continue. 

“But I ran out of time and space, with the two cars like that. Which was a bit of a shame.” 

Verstappen’s laptime ultimately secured his position in the next segment of qualifying, although the rapidly improving track conditions after earlier rain provided a plausible explanation.

However, Wolff’s interpretation of the incident differed from Verstappen’s explanation. He stated, “The mistake happened on our side, the communication between us and Lewis didn’t give him the right information to get out of Max’s way, and no one wants to be in anybody’s way because if you impede, you’re getting penalised. 

“So that was not the aim. On the other side, Turn 1 was a revanche [‘revenge’ or ‘retaliation’ in French] for it. 

“You know, it was just to make sure that his lap is ruined. 

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“So, one was not intentional, the other one was intentional. But who cares? 

|At the end, we looked at it, is it going to change our race or not? But I think they’re going to talk about it in the drivers’ briefing next week.”

Wolff believes the incident will be addressed in the upcoming drivers’ briefing, where the drivers will discuss the events of the Austrian Grand Prix sprint qualifying.