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Toto Wolff Q&A: Neither Hamilton nor Rosberg directly to blame

15 May 2016

Their two drivers colliding and crashing out on lap one in Spain was not in Mercedes’ script and gave the team their first double DNF since Australia 2011. Having spoken to Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg about the incident, team boss Toto Wolff suggested that neither was without fault…

Q: Toto, what an unfortunate afternoon? Starting both cars from the front row and being out within the first lap…

Toto Wolff: …we let our drivers race each other - and that is what you get - sometimes! Actually I have to say that our opinion is that none of the two is to blame directly and entirely…

Q: Niki Lauda said that he sees Lewis as the culprit…

TW: Well, Niki has his very own view on things - and that is fair enough. But probably when you have all the data and have talked to the drivers the picture will be slightly different.

Q: You have been sitting with your two guys in your office and talking the situation over - probably without having seen all the images and knowing all the data: what was the state of affairs?

TW: Both are pretty unhappy about the situation - of course. And believe me, it is also a very uncomfortable situation for us: we have lost 43 points - that is not petty stuff in a hard fought championship.

Q: Lewis seems to have apologised to Nico. Is that a ‘plea of guilty’?

TW: Yes, it is true that Lewis apologised to Nico - but that is our culture within the team. Both, of course, were pretty unhappy about the situation - that the team was let down. And I think that both know that they are not faultless in that situation. But that is already water under the bridge and the only interesting thing is of how we get out of that situation. We have really had a great spirit within the team at the last couple of races - of course also up and downs. Time is a great healer and the team has enough backbone to move on from difficult circumstances.

Q: So how will you go about this situation? It already happened once - in Spa 2014…

TW: Well, we will look very carefully at the images and talk to the drivers to make sure it will not happen again. But that is racing. Everybody complains that it has turned a bit boring - and now that something has happened the big question on the wall is why? I have no answer to that right now.

Q: After a couple of poor races would you think that with a bit more self confidence Lewis could have waited for the next couple of laps to make his move on Nico? Do you think it was his anger for losing the start again to Nico?

TW: No, he has all the confidence in the world. But here in Barcelona if you want to make a move between two equal cars lap one is probably the best opportunity. He had much more speed coming out Turn 3 - and that move was the decision that he took. As a driver you make that decision in the blink of an eye - and it is either right - or wrong!

Q: When the contact happened between Lewis and Nico we saw images of the Mercedes garage and Daimler’s Dr Thomas Weber using the ‘s’ word…

TW: …let me complete that word: it was sh*t! These two guys were supposed to bring the cars home – and they didn’t. Full stop.

Q: How is the relationship now between the two? How will they get along in the next couple of weeks?

TW: Both know what is important for the team. Of course you can’t expect them to be easy about it. And of course each of them will have his opinion of what happened - but I am sure it will not influence their relationship in a negative way.

Q: Yesterday you indicated that you have somehow been instrumental in bringing Max Verstappen into a Red Bull cockpit. Now we have seen that a star was born today. Was that your intention?

TW: No, that was not the plan! (laughs) But seeing Max as the youngest ever winner up there is great for him - and for the sport. Yes, we have seen that a star was born today. And if I have to recap the race: we have lost both Mercedes in lap one, we have seen a new star, Ferrari has scored a lot of points and caught up - what more can you ask? All that makes me go away angry and upset - but isn’t that ideally what racing is all about.