Wolff: Rival F1 team boss behaviour "pitiful" and "disingenuous"

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has slammed the behaviour of rival Formula 1 team bosses as "pitiful" and "disingenuous" amid the row over porpoising at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG

Following the FIA’s intervention in addressing safety concerns expressed by drivers, Mercedes found itself at the centre of intense debate in the paddock.

Having run with a second floor stay as allowed by the FIA’s pre-event technical directive, rival teams questioned whether or not the team had had advance notice of the changes to get changes ready in time – something Mercedes insisted it had not.

Then there were claims that the stay was actually illegal as the FIA had not changed the regulations to allow it – so Mercedes found itself as risk of a protest if it ran with it for qualifying. The component was removed for Saturday after Mercedes said it had not delivered any improvement.

Furthermore, Wolff thinks rival teams are briefing their drivers to play down concerns so as to not encourage the FIA to move even quicker on the matter.

The disagreements between Mercedes and its rivals are understood to have reached a head in a Saturday morning meeting of team principals at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, when Wolff expressed his anger at others for playing political games.

Sources suggest he expressed his disappointment that others were trying to gain competitive and political advantage through something that was of genuine safety concern to his drivers.

Asked by Autosport about both the porpoising situation and the meeting, Wolff could not hide his annoyance at how things were playing out.

“This is a sport where you're trying to keep a competitive advantage or gain it,” he said. “But this situation has clearly gone too far.

“All drivers, at least one in every team, have said that they were in pain after Baku, that they had difficulty in keeping the car on track or blurred vision.

“Team principals trying to manipulate what is being said in order to keep the competitive advantage and trying to play political games when the FIA tries to come up with a quick solution, to at least put the cars in a better position, is disingenuous. And that's what I said.

“I'm not only talking about the Mercedes: all of the cars suffered in some way or other in Baku, and still do it here. The cars are too stiff. The cars bounce or whatever you want to call it.

“We have long term effects that we can't even judge. But at any time this is a safety risk, and then coming up with little manipulations in the background, or Chinese whispers, or briefing the drivers, is just pitiful.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, in Parc Ferme

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, in Parc Ferme

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

While Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have been the most vocal over porpoising and bottoming out problems, Wolff thinks it is wrong for rivals to think that his drivers are speaking out in a bid to make their cars quicker.

Wolff says that a host of other drivers are equally unhappy with the situation – including Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.

“Of course, people will question whether my position is sincere or not,” he said. “That's why I'm saying it's not only our problem. But if a Red Bull driver says you reach 300km/h, which is when the issue comes up, and with these problems, ‘you can even lose your vision when braking or not being able to position the car properly’, as Perez said.

“Then you listen to the words of [Carlos] Sainz, you listen to what [Daniel] Ricciardo has said, we listen to what [Esteban] Ocon has said, [Kevin] Magnussen and both our drivers.

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“This is not a team's problem. This is a design issue of ground effect cars that needs to be tackled before we have a situation, whatever it is.

“And it is not just by putting the cars up, because putting the cars up doesn't solve the stiffness of the inherent aerodynamic characteristics.”

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