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Formula 1

Wolff and Vasseur summoned to stewards over Vegas comments

by Matt Beer
3 min read

The team principals of both the Mercedes and Ferrari Formula 1 teams - Toto Wolff and Fred Vasseur - have been summoned to the stewards in Abu Dhabi over their conduct in a bad-tempered Las Vegas Grand Prix press conference.

The event happened during the pause in action last Thursday night after a displaced water valve cover caused severe damage to both Carlos Sainz's Ferrari and Esteban Ocon's Alpine.

Host Tom Clarkson attempted to question Vasseur on general matters around Ferrari's season, but Vasseur preferred to keep the topic on his fury over what had happened on track at first.

Wolff attempted to placate him, but later launched into a tirade of his own after first being asked if the practice session delay was a "black eye" for F1 given the profile of the Vegas event and then seemingly being interrupted by another journalist in the room while answering. In Wolff's case the focus was on F1's critics rather than F1 itself.

The stewards' summons said the issue Vasseur and Wolff would have to address was "concerning the use of certain language" in their responses.

The hearing will take place shortly in Abu Dhabi.


Vasseur called the track problem that had damaged Sainz's car “unacceptable” at the start of an odd opening exchange to Friday’s FIA press conference, which began half an hour after FP1 was meant to have ended.

When Clarkson attempted to ask Vasseur about the “bigger picture” of the Las Vegas GP, Vasseur interjected with: “But this one [picture] is a good one. I don’t need to have a bigger picture than this one.”

Clarkson tried a final time to get Vasseur to speak about what the race meant for Ferrari, the size of the event and his team’s promotional work around it, but Vasseur laughed and made it clear he was not interested in entertaining that narrative in the current circumstances.

“I’m not sure it’s the topic for me today,” he said. “We had a very tough FP1, this will cost us a fortune.

“We f***ed up the session for Carlos. We won’t be part of FP2 for sure [the delay to that session meant the car was ready in time in the end], we have to change the chassis and two-thirds of the car.

“OK, the show is the show and everything is going well, but I think it’s just unacceptable for F1 today.”

But as the press conference progressed, Vasseur turned down a chance to say F1 should have focused more on making sure the track was safe and ready than the extravagant extracurricular events around the grand prix.

He also eventually called the show around Vegas “mega”, said it needed to be kept separate from the “sporting side”, and professed himself “very happy with what Liberty did around the race”.

Later Mercedes boss Wolff started to dismiss a question about whether the practice interruption and track issue was a “black eye” for F1, and claimed “nobody is going to talk about it tomorrow morning anymore”.

He was then interrupted by a comment from a different journalist in the room, who questioned how Wolff could say it was “nothing”.

That clearly upset Wolff, who called it “completely ridiculous” and asked “how can you even dare try to talk back about an event that sets new standards for everything?”.

“And then you’re speaking about a f***ing drain cover that’s been undone, that’s happened before, that’s nothing," Wolff said.

“It’s FP1. Give credit to the people that have set up this grand prix, that have made this sport much bigger than it ever was.

“Have you ever spoken good about someone and written a good word? You should about all these people that have been out here.

“Liberty has done an awesome job and just because in FP1 a drain cover has become undone we shouldn’t be moaning.

“The car is broken. That’s really a shame for Carlos, it could have been dangerous.

“Between the track and the FIA and everybody, we need to analyse how we can make sure this is not happening again, but talking here about a black eye for the sport on a Thursday evening, nobody watches that [session] anyway European time.”

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