until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Wolff spoke to Horner about Hamilton favouritism accusation

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
3 min read

Mercedes Formula 1 team boss Toto Wolff says he spoke to his Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner about his suggestion Lewis Hamilton is receiving preferential treatment.

Horner said ahead of the Italian Grand Prix that Mercedes is favouring Hamilton over team-mate Valtteri Bottas to support Hamilton’s bid for a record-equalling seventh drivers’ title.

Hamilton has scored five poles and victories this season and holds a 47-point lead in the drivers’ championship ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, while Bottas is three points further back in third.

Horner said strategic decisions from Mercedes, such as keeping both drivers on a one-stop at the Belgian GP, made it “obvious” that Bottas was being held back.

“I spoke to him about it,” said Wolff. “He said, ‘Why didn’t you pit Valtteri for the second stop?’.

“If we would have known that the two stop is quicker we would have pitted Lewis as well.

“So in hindsight, the two-stop was the better strategy but we didn’t want to lose position against Max because it was not clear whether we would beat Max on track.

“And then I said, ‘Why didn’t you pit Max for a second stop, you could have beaten us?’ and they said, ‘Well, we weren’t sure whether we would be able to overtake Ricciardo’.

“Well, hello, here we go! It’s exactly the same situation.

“There is no such thing as prioritising one driver versus the other. We have always played it completely open, transparent and fair and this is how we’re going to continue.”

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Italian Grand Prix Qualifying Day Monza, Italy

Bottas won the season-opening Austrian GP from pole but finished behind Hamilton at every other race.

He has been close to Hamilton over one lap with mostly narrow qualifying defeats but in races has failed to challenge his team-mate and slipped behind Verstappen on too many occasions.

Bottas was a career-best second in the championship last season and Verstappen expects the Finn to overtake him for the runner-up position this year, as Mercedes’ performance looks set to guarantee a seventh drivers’ and constructors’ title double.

Red Bull, conversely, has failed to live up to its pre-season expectations and Verstappen’s second place in the drivers’ championship does not reflect a title bid.

“Red Bull has all the resource – human resource and financial resource – to compete at the very front,” said Wolff earlier in the Monza weekend.

“I think like they had those great years with Renault, starting in 2010 with four consecutive championships, we’re having a run at the moment.

“It’s about putting all the things together. Every parameter is needed in order to get there.

“And that is not only the engine and chassis relationship that needs to be strong, but it’s also about putting all components and all these marginal gains together in order to perform.

“But I very much think that this can be a cyclical sport, or at least in the past has been a cyclical sport. And it’s something that we are very well-aware of.

“So we are trying to not rest on any laurels, but just focus on what lies ahead of us.”

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • More Networks