PARIS (AFP) – Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff said “diplomacy” had ended as he demanded on Tuesday (Nov 16) a review of an incident from last weekend’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix when Red Bull’s Max Verstappen appeared to force Lewis Hamilton off the track.
Mercedes are convinced that Verstappen, then leading the race, defended too aggressively on a corner during the 48th lap as title rival Hamilton was attempting to overtake him.
The defending champion Hamilton was driven off the track but stewards decided at the time to take no action against the Dutchman.
“I’ve always been very diplomatic in how I discuss things. But diplomacy has ended today,” said Wolff.
Mercedes now believe they have fresh, incriminating evidence in the shape of footage from on board Verstappen’s car, which may suggest a voluntary swerve from the driver.
Wolff complained the absence of any punishment for Verstappen was unfair, especially in light of the penalty handed out to Hamilton earlier in the weekend.
The seven-time world champion was disqualified from qualifying and relegated to the back of the grid after stewards upheld a Red Bull complaint his DRS system (the flap mounted on the rear wing of the car which opens to gain top speed) exceeded allowed limits.
“We’ve just had many, many punches in the face this weekend with decisions that could have swung either side, against us or for us,” said Wolff.
“When always the decisions swing against you, it’s just something that I’m just angry about.”
Hamilton eventually won the race at Interlagos in one of his greatest drives after starting from 10th on the grid.
Championship leader Verstappen was second, just ahead of Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes, and with three races of the season remaining holds a narrow 14-point lead.