Toto Wolff scolded for ‘disrespecting’ Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has been warned about disrespecting Lewis Hamilton again amid contract talks.

F1 commentator Peter Windsor has urged Toto Wolff, the team principal of Mercedes, to show “more respect” towards Lewis Hamilton following a controversial team radio exchange during the Austrian Grand Prix. 

The incident left a bitter taste for Hamilton and his supporters.

Hamilton, a seven-time World Champion, faced difficulties with his car throughout the weekend at the Red Bull Ring, despite recent improvements with the heavily revised W14. 

After finishing a disappointing 18th in the Saturday sprint shootout session, his struggles continued in the grand prix. 

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He was the first among several drivers to incur time penalties for exceeding track limits.

Throughout the race, Hamilton expressed his frustrations, leading Wolff to intervene over the team radio, saying, “Lewis, the car is bad, we know. Please drive it.” 

Former title-winning Williams team manager Peter Windsor, who was unsettled by Ferrari’s treatment of Charles Leclerc during the Canadian GP, criticised Wolff’s tone when addressing Hamilton mid-race.

Windsor viewed Wolff’s acknowledgment of the car’s poor performance as a clear indication of the team’s lack of progress since the highly anticipated upgrade package was introduced at the Monaco GP in May. 

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In a video on his YouTube channel, Windsor stated, “There was a comment from Toto Wolff two-thirds of the way through the race which, for me, left a little bit of a bad taste in the mouth because it was Lewis again going on about track limits.”

He continued, “It was a bit like that comment to Charles Leclerc in Canada – a bit schoolmaster talking to the pupil – and he said: ‘Yes, Lewis, we know the car is bad. Get on and drive the race, please.’ 

“I just thought, ‘Wow’, [firstly] for all the song and dance about the [upgrades] and how improvements are there and they’re moving forward and the setup and getting the tyres in the right window. 

“And [secondly], to speak to Lewis like that – ‘get on and race’ – this guy’s a seven-times World Champion, he does deserve a little bit more respect than that, I think.”

Expressing his discomfort with the situation, Windsor voiced his wish for team radio exchanges like this to remain private. 

He also highlighted the impact such comments could have on Hamilton’s enjoyment of the sport. 

“If anything’s going to be driving Lewis crazy, it’s going to be stuff like that because, if nothing else, he wants to enjoy his racing now,” Windsor remarked. 

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“But if you’re going to be spoken to like that by your team principal, it’s not really fun either, is it?”

Windsor acknowledged Hamilton’s ability to shrug off past incidents, but expressed concern about the impact this particular incident could have, especially considering the ongoing negotiations for Hamilton’s contract extension with Mercedes. 

Wolff had previously hinted that an announcement would be made around the time of Hamilton’s home race at Silverstone, but he recently stated that finer details, including financial matters and the length of the contract extension, are still being resolved.