After Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s collision at the British Grand Prix everybody is expecting sparks to continue to fly between the two drivers until the end of the season.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff says we can expect more collisions if the two drivers don’t behave “in a sportsmanlike way”.
“I think that the intensity has increased since Silverstone,” the Austrian said.
“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.”
Wolff adds that in the past Hamilton backed out in similar situations, because he is always thinking about the bigger picture.
“I think part of his success is not only his race craft, but also his maturity. 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.”
However, Wolff shoots down any suggestions that Hamilton caused the accident on purpose to ‘prove a point’.
“I think he’s much beyond proving a point. He is a 99-time race winner, and seven-time world champion.
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“There is nothing Lewis Hamilton needs to prove to anybody anymore.”
Wolff also compared the current situation with Verstappen to the one Lewis had with his team-mate Nico Rosberg a few years ago. However, at the time it was a different scenario, because both drivers were driving for the same team.
“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.”
But Wolff admits this current scenario makes it harder to stop the situation from escalating.
“You have tools to de-escalate the situation within the team if you have such a rivalry going ugly. 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,” concluded Mercedes’ team boss.