Toto Wolff says Mercedes will “not be the victim” despite feeling that his team has been unfairly treated by the FIA.
Tensions between Mercedes and Red Bull boiled over at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix with the FIA stuck in the middle.
According to reports, Red Bull got the FIA involved in yet another check of Mercedes’ rear wing where it was discovered that Lewis Hamilton’s gap in his DRS flap exceeded the maximum distance of 85mm.
While the stewards said it was a case of something having gone wrong rather than a design issue, they did not allow Mercedes to just repair the wing, instead disqualifying Hamilton from qualifying.
Adding insult to injury for Mercedes, Red Bull were later given permission to work on the rear wing of Max Verstappen’s car under parc ferme conditions.
Mercedes’ ire with what Wolff says are “different” rules was compounded in the grand prix when Verstappen wasn’t given a penalty for pushing Hamilton off the track as the two fought for the lead.
The Red Bull driver’s defence was short-lived, Hamilton swooping through to take the lead and the win by 10 seconds.
Wolff says Mercedes’ trials have brought the team closer together.
“I think the team has always been together but these decisions have brought us so close together,” he told Sky F1.
“It’s against us and I think this is what Lewis felt all his life – we now feel it together as a team and we are going to fight.
“We will not be victims and that is the emotion we are feeling in the garage at the moment.”
F1 Sundays don't come much better than this. ❤ pic.twitter.com/G40JzbflFx
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) November 14, 2021
Going through the list of what could be seen as unfair treatment in favour of Red Bull, Wolff was pressed on the FIA’s call to allowed Red Bull to work on Verstappen’s win.
The Mercedes motorsport boss said he felt it was especially unfair as it wasn’t the first time Red Bull were given the go-ahead.
“I think if things are being done for reliability and safety, they should be allowed to be done,” he said. “But if it becomes systematic that if you keep changing the same parts three times in a row… they are a great engineering team, they can patch it up and fix it. It was a bit annoying.”
As for Verstappen not being penalised for pushing Hamilton off the track, Wolff pointed at the Sky camera and replied: “That was just a friendly hello at the race director.
“Yes it is (our most satisfying win) because we started on the back foot with our self-inflicted engine penalty and then we got disqualified yesterday which was harsh.
“And then today in the race things went against us too, like this one decision where Lewis didn’t want to comment, I would like to comment – brilliant racing, just to the limit, Lewis was super-clever avoiding the contact, so it was great to see these two super drivers.
“But not giving a five-second penalty… come on.”
Hamilton’s win reduced his deficit in the title race to 14 points with three races remaining while Mercedes are now 11 up on Red Bull.
“You can see how quickly the tides change,” Wolff said. “Last week we went away beaten up in Mexico, this week we had the faster package, so I’m not relying that suddenly we are taking off.
“They (Red Bull) could be very strong in Qatar next week and that is to be expected and may the stronger one win. Last week it was them, this week it was us.”
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