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Toto Wolff

Wolff responds to Mercedes tension during surgery recovery

Mercedes' race was compromised in Qatar two weeks ago when Lewis Hamilton and George Russell collided on the opening lap.

Hamilton crash qatar
To news overview © RN365/Michael Potts

Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff has insisted his absence from the Qatar Grand Prix did not play any effect in Lewis Hamilton and George Russell's opening lap collision.

Hamilton attempted to overtake his teammate and Red Bull's Max Verstappen around the outside of the first corner at the Lusail International Circuit but found himself pitched out of the race following contact with Russell's left-front wheel.

The seven-time World Champion accepted blame for the crash, with Russell going on to recover to fourth place at the chequered flag.

Wolff was not present in Qatar to oversee proceedings as he was at home in Monaco whilst recovering from a knee operation that also ruled him out of Japan.

But speaking to media including RacingNews365.com he explained: “I was completely plugged in, I have a centre console setup at home.

“[I was] part of every briefing, debriefing and the conversations during the race.

“Obviously you've got to let the guys fly the aeroplane because when you're remote, I must always take myself back a little bit because you're distant.

“You don't look into the faces, you don't see what's going on emotionally with the people around you, you feel in a certain way detached.

“It’s not something that I enjoy, but it was a necessity.”

Denying his absence led to the flare-up on track, which followed tension over team orders in Japan, Wolff insisted: “I don't think it had an effect.

"I think we are racing more in the front now. We have a sniff of how it is looking like to have no car in front of you, with the McLarens and with Max [Verstappen] there. In any case, we'll never find out - I’m back.”

'Sometimes you need these moments'

The collision between both Mercedes drivers was the first major intra-team contact since Russell joined the squad last year.

“There were some unpleasant situations that we have talked about,” he said. “Lots of points that we left on the table but there is nobody more aware than the drivers.

“Sometimes you need these moments to recalibrate, manage your condition and avoid similar situations in the future.

“But they’re racing drivers. They compete hard. Your first competitor is your team-mate and therefore I see it with a relatively relaxed stance.”

F1 2023 United States Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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