Toto Wolff dismisses insinuations that Hamilton played games

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff dismissed Christian Horner’s accusation that Lewis Hamilton slowed down Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez on purpose.

After Lewis Hamilton took pole in the Hungarian Grand Prix Qualifying, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner immediately accused the Briton of “gamesmanship”.

Horner insinuated that Hamilton slowed down in his last out lap on purpose, in order to mess with Max Verstappen’s tyre warm-up. Lewis already dismissed any such claims, and now Toto Wolff does the same.

“That is not something you discuss,” said the Austrian.

“I think everybody tried to have the biggest possible gaps. We saw the average was somewhere between seven and eight seconds through all the qualifying sessions, but the camera was pointed on there so maybe we didn’t see everybody else doing it.

“I’m happy because we expected Hungary to be more tricky for us, especially in those conditions and locking the front row out gives you a certain advantage for tomorrow.”

Wolff also gave his comments on Red Bull starting on soft tyres, while Mercedes will start on mediums.

“I don’t know why they qualified on the softs, but it could be an advantage if it’s a solid two-stop, which we saw three years ago when Lewis caught up overtook Max.

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“If it’s a two-stop the soft doesn’t make any difference, maybe an advantage at the beginning.

“We wouldn’t have done it. The soft tyre has a big advantage on a single lap, I think tomorrow we will see it peak after a handful of laps.

“But if it’s a two-stop you can easily switch on a medium or a hard. If everyone does it, it’s fine, but otherwise, you could get into traffic.”

Wolff also jokingly commented on the expected battle between Mercedes and Red Bull on race start.

“If I start teaching my drivers about how to approach turn one, it is actually completely gone off the rails. Let’s see what happens tomorrow. I think it’s going to be an exciting start.

“Maybe [Pierre] Gasly leads after turn one and all four cars are out. I’m just joking! I hope not.

“But it will be an exciting turn one and for sure from the strategy, we will see some interesting manoeuvres.”

And finally, Wolff was asked how Lewis copes with the racist abuse he received online after his collision with Max Verstappen at the British Grand Prix.

“Lewis has been absolutely fine. The sad part is that he is used to the racist abuse which happens all the time. He just concentrates on the championship which is important.

“We try to keep within our emotional bubble without looking outside,” concluded Mercedes’ team boss.

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