Wolff fears F1 has opened door for "dirtier driving" over Verstappen call

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes Formula 1 has opened the door for 'dirtier driving' in the wake of the FIA's decision over Max Verstappen's behaviour at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Wolff fears F1 has opened door for "dirtier driving" over Verstappen call

Verstappen's defensive tactics at Interlagos last weekend, when he crowded title rival Lewis Hamilton off track as they battled for the lead, has been the subject of intense debate over recent days.

At the time, F1 race director Michael Masi and the FIA stewards decided not to investigate Verstappen's actions, and an attempt by Mercedes to seek right of review on that call was rejected in Qatar.

ANALYSIS: Why Mercedes' right of review into Verstappen's Brazil F1 driving was denied

F1 drivers themselves have been left slightly confused about what the racing rules are going forward, with there appearing to be little clarification from the FIA in Friday night's drivers' briefing about a consistent set of guidelines regarding leaving racing room for other cars.

Matters were also not helped by it being suggested that, depending on the stewards involved, drivers could be punished for an incident that was identical to the Verstappen/Hamilton one.

Amid concerns that Verstappen's actions have effectively given the green light to drivers pushing rivals wide if they try to go around the outside, Wolff says he fears it has set a bad precedent for the future.

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

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

Photo by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images

"I think it's a very surprising outcome, because irrelevant of how Brazil has been judged, I think that is water under the bridge," Wolff told Sky on Saturday.

"In my opinion, what it says is you can just launch yourself into a corner and drag the other car out of line. And that obviously can lead to quite some dirtier driving going forward.

"We don't want to have a messy situation tomorrow, in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, because that would be really bad."

Wolff reckons that drivers are as surprised as observers about the situation, and the lack of clarity from the FIA about how matters are dealt with.

"I think all the drivers that spoke up said that it was a decision that was also surprising to them," he said. "Obviously you need to adapt your driving style to the new situation, but it's still surprising for everybody that's in the car and for us too."

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