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Wolff: F1 cannot rule out further Hamilton/Verstappen crashes

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says Formula 1 cannot rule out further crashes between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen if the pair do not resume their rivalry in a ‘sportsmanlike’ manner.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B leads Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12 at the start of the race

The collision between the drivers at the recent British Grand Prix has become a major talking point in F1, after Red Bull and Verstappen angrily hit out at their Mercedes rivals for what happened.

And ahead of what is likely to be an intense Hungarian GP this weekend with the two drivers set to meet for the first time since their crash, Wolff accepts that further incidents remain possible.

He is in no doubt that the events of the British GP have lifted the rivalry between Hamilton and Verstappen to a new level, and that makes it hard to predict where things go from here.

Speaking to Autosport about how he thinks the battle between Hamilton and Verstappen will develop, Wolff said: “I think that the intensity has increased since Silverstone.

“It certainly will not be the last time they fight for position and hopefully they can do it in a sportsmanlike way. And, if not, we will see more collisions.”

Hamilton and Verstappen have been involved in a number of battles over the course of the 2021 F1 season, but the British GP was the first time that there had been proper contact between them.

Wolff thinks that in the past, Hamilton has elected to avoid trouble because he’s been happy to play the long game, whereas this time around neither driver wanted to give up ground.

“I think part of his [Hamilton’s] success is not only his race craft, but also his maturity,” said Wolff. “Long-term strategy is important in order to win championships because you need to score points.

“It has come to a situation that ceding a track position has been part of the pattern of the last few races. This time neither of them conceded and it ended up in a heavy collision."

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W12

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W12

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

But Wolff is adamant that Hamilton did not deliberately cause the accident to prove a point.

“I think he's much beyond proving a point,” said Wolff. “He is a 99-time race winner, and seven-time world champion. There is nothing Lewis Hamilton needs to prove to anybody anymore.”

Wolff is no stranger in having to deal with the aftermath of crashes, with former driver Nico Rosberg having had some run-ins with Hamilton in the past.

However, the latest scenario is slightly different in that the dispute is an external one with a different team.

Asked if that was easier or harder to manage, Wolff said: “The external ones are easy to deal with. This is far away from the controversy that we had within the team.

“Those are very difficult to manage because you need both drivers in a good headspace to win the constructors' championship, and to drive respecting the team's values and the mighty Mercedes brand.

“The external fight, this is how F1 has always been and not something that is difficult to manage.”

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However, the fact it is with another team makes it more uncertain how the situation will develop.

“You have tools to de-escalate the situation within the team if you have such a rivalry going ugly,” added Wolff.

“Competing with another team, things that need to happen will happen. And we have no particular judgement on what is going to happen at this stage.”

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