Wolff: Stewards' leniency towards Verstappen 'laughable'

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Toto Wolff was surprised that Max Verstappen wasn't given a time penalty for a blatant defensive move on Lewis Hamilton that forced the Mercedes driver off the track, calling the stewards' leniency "laughable".

Hamilton was reeling in Verstappen in the second part of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix when he caught up with the Red Bull driver on lap 48 and attempted an overtake on the outside of Interlagos' Turn 4.

But Verstappen opened up his trajectory in the middle of the corner and ran wide, taking Hamilton – who had done well to avoid a contact – with him.

Wolff called the wheel-to-wheel spat "brilliant racing" but was astonished that the stewards, who put the skirmish under investigation, ultimately gave a thumbs up to the move.

"Brilliant racing, hard defending just to the limit," said the Mercedes boss. "Lewis was clever, super clever, avoiding the contact.

"So, it was great to see these two super drivers. But not giving it five seconds [penalty] or so? Come on!

"I'd like to see the onboard of Max actually. It's pretty spectacular how he does it, but I think Lewis cruising around him to avoid the contact was even better."

Wolff admitted that it had been satisfactory end to an incredibly challenging weekend during which multiple spanners were thrown into the Mercedes team's works.

"The whole weekend went against us," he said. "We had a broken part on our rear wing which we couldn’t look at and analyse, failed the test and was disqualified very harshly.

"And then you see on the Red Bull, repairs three times in a row on the rear wing while staying in parc ferme with no consequence.

"That’s one thing and that really peaked with the decision in the race, which was really the wrong defence for Max. Absolutely an inch over the limit, but he needed to do that to defend.

"Lewis just managed it even more brilliantly by avoiding the contact and ending the race that way, but that was just over the line, it should have been a five second penalty at least. Probably Max knew that.

"But just brushing it under the carpet is just the tip of the iceberg. I mean, it’s laughable."

Contrary to his team boss, Hamilton wasn't the least bit surprised by the stewards' decision to let Verstappen off the hook.

"When they said they were going to investigate, I just knew the decision they were going to come to, whether it was right or wrong," he told Sky Sports.

"I didn't let it faze me, I just kept racing."

Asked whether he believed that the officials should have handed a time penalty to his arch-rival, Hamilton said: "I'm not gonna go into that. I need to look back at it, but I mean, it's a racing incident at the end of the day, probably.

"It doesn't really matter, as I got the result I needed."

Indeed, Hamilton eventually gained the upper hand over Verstappen to conquer his 101st Grand Prix win, reducing his deficit to the Red Bull charger in the Drivers' standings to 14 points with three races to go.

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