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Formula 1 Azerbaijan GP

Wolff: Verstappen only races Hamilton differently, not Mercedes

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff thinks Max Verstappen only races Lewis Hamilton differently rather than Mercedes, despite his clash with George Russell in Formula 1's Azerbaijan Grand Prix sprint race.

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 3rd position, talk in Parc Ferme after the Sprint race

Verstappen was left furious after Saturday’s Baku F1 sprint race when he felt Russell had unnecessarily made contact with him as they battled for third position in the first corners of the race.

The Red Bull driver confronted Russell in parc ferme after the race and, left unimpressed with his rival’s explanation, muttered that he was a ‘d***head’ as the Briton walked away.

With Verstappen having famously had several collisions with Hamilton in the past, the Russell incident prompted some thought that the Dutchman may choose to race the Mercedes squad more aggressively than other teams.

However, Wolff saw nothing untoward in the Baku incident and felt that it was just two young drivers getting their elbows out.

Asked if he felt Verstappen raced Mercedes differently, Wolff said: “No, I think Max races Lewis differently. But between the same generation drivers, they are all fierce, but they know each other so well.

“They had this situation probably the first time when they were 10. So it's racing. I don't know if it's 70/30, 60/40, or 50/50. It is going to be in that ballpark.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 3rd position, is interviewed in Parc Ferme

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 3rd position, is interviewed in Parc Ferme

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Wolff felt Verstappen’s outburst was just a moment of entertainment, as he fully understood why the world champion may have been left upset at what happened.

“Friendly exchanges between drivers is a good entertainment factor - so irrelevant!” he said. “[In] the race situation [Verstappen] is trying the outside [line]. That's never going to be an easy position.

“They collided, he had a big hole in the car and that's certainly sub optimal for your race. It's absolutely understandable that he's upset.

“But on the other side, George defended a position. And that's also clear that they're going to do that. So it's not the first time I guess they had the situation between each other.”

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Wolff also made it clear that he felt any driver trying to hold on around the outside like Verstappen did was taking a chance.

“If I'm George, I'm doing exactly the same, if I'm Max, I'm upset,” he said. “I think he defended well.

“I think it's dangerous to overtake around the outside because you could either end up in the run-off, or you can end up in the wall. Or you can have somebody on the inside that is weak and gives you all the space in the world.

“But on the inside is quite an angle you need to achieve. And if you try to turn around there tightly, you're going to lose out on the next straight.”

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