Formula 1

“It was clear for Max that his positioning would end in a crash” – Mercedes’ Toto Wolff

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Credit: Steve Etherington

Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team’s Team Principal Toto Wolff, is frustrated at the mixed weekend the team experienced at the Italian Grand Prix, after Valtteri Bottas finished third and Lewis Hamilton retired from the race.

On a weekend that promised so much for the Mercedes team, it quickly spiralled into one of asking what if? Valtteri Bottas performed brilliantly all weekend, claiming pole position on Friday, winning the sprint race on Saturday and then finishing third on Sunday after starting last.

For world champion Lewis Hamilton it was a weekend where he will just be grateful to have walked away, after crashing out of Sunday’s race in terrifying style. Hamilton’s weekend took a turn for the worse after a poor sprint qualifying, leaving him starting the main race from fourth.

Despite this the British driver made an excellent start and was fighting Max Verstappen for second by turn five on the opening lap, before yet again having to run off the circuit after not being given room by the Dutchman, in a similar incident to Imola.

The pair then came together again as Hamilton was exiting the pits, coming out a cars length ahead of Verstappen. The Dutchman who fell behind Hamilton after having a terrible stop, refused to allow Hamilton to pass, the Dutchman tried to go around the outside of Hamilton at turn one to have the inside at turn two. There simply wasn’t the room however, as Verstappen’s car bounced over the sausage kerbs and launched into the air, his Red Bull Racing car landing on top of Hamilton’s Mercedes.

Both cars were beached in the gravel, Verstappen’s resting on top of Hamilton’s, with the Dutchman’s rear-right tyre even hitting the top of Hamilton’s helmet. The world champion would have been potentially crushed by Verstappen’s flying Red Bull had it not been for the superior halo device, which yet again prevented what would have been a possibly deadly crash and a dark day for Formula 1.

The stewards after the race awarded Verstappen a three-place grid penalty for the next grand prix in Russia, as well as adding two points to his license.

It sums up a mixed weekend for Mercedes, leaving Toto Wolff very pleased with Bottas and his performance but also incredibly thankful for the halo device.

“Another mixed afternoon for us. On the one hand, Valtteri did an incredible job coming from P20 and getting a podium for the Team. He has been on top form this weekend and P3 from back of the grid is thoroughly deserved after his performance all weekend.

“On the other hand, the incident with Max was really unfortunate for Lewis, as he seemed to be in a great position after his stop. If you compare it to Lewis at turn four on lap one, where he backed out, I think it was clear for Max that his positioning would end in a crash. The stewards have made their decision but it is clear that, without the halo this could have been much worse.”

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