Mercedes crew boss Toto Wolff has admitted the occasions of Abu Dhabi in 2021 nonetheless occupy his thoughts at instances, although extra with incredulity moderately than ‘anger’.
The story is well-known by now, with the race restarting for one remaining flying lap beneath controversial circumstances after the Security Automotive was pulled in, with FIA race director Michael Masi seemingly going in opposition to the governing physique’s personal steerage surrounding lapped vehicles overtaking the Security Automotive whereas doing so.
This transfer enabled Max Verstappen, sat behind Lewis Hamilton on a lot brisker, softer tyres, to cross the Mercedes driver on the final lap of the 2021 season, with Wolff making his emotions recognized over crew radio by exclaiming to Masi: “No, Michael, no, that is so not proper!”, whereas Hamilton claimed the consequence had been “manipulated”.
The Purple Bull driver went on to take the title regardless, although Masi was faraway from his place by the FIA after Formulation 1’s governing physique performed a evaluation into the decision-making surrounding these remaining laps. He ultimately left the FIA fully to turn out to be impartial chair of the Supercars Fee in his native Australia.
Whereas the flames of the controversy have now dimmed to its embers over time, the Mercedes crew principal admitted that day at Yas Marina nonetheless pops up in his thoughts repeatedly.
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“It was powerful after Abu Dhabi,” Wolff admitted to The Occasions. “I’ve all the time appreciated the precept that the stopwatch by no means lies; the crew that wins is the one which deserves to be the champion.
“However this was completely different. On the finish of the race, a person took selections that weren’t mirrored wherever within the rule guide and had been so drastic that they made the result unbelievable.
“That could be a second whenever you fall out of affection with the game… the precept of equity was breached.
“The FIA took the man out of the job as a result of it was a human error. However it’s carried out and dusted now. I nonetheless give it some thought lots, however not with anger; it’s simply incomprehensible the way it happened.”
Mercedes and Hamilton will look to regain the Drivers’ and Constructors’ crowns in 2023, with the crew’s eight-year Constructors’ streak having been ended by Purple Bull final season after their nice rivals took 17 wins from 22 races, with Hamilton looking for a record-breaking eighth Drivers’ title.