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Toto Wolff

Wolff: Confusion over F1 rules creates 'very dangerous' situation

Toto Wolff fears that the title run-in could be spoilt by confusion over what is and isn't allowed on track.

Hamilton Verstappen Brazil
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To news overview © Pirelli

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is worried that the stewards' verdict over the incident between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at the Brazilian Grand Prix will create a "very dangerous" situation for upcoming races.

F1 title rivals Hamilton and Verstappen went wheel-to-wheel for victory during last weekend's race at Interlagos, with both drivers taking to the run-off after Verstappen ran deep into the corner.

Verstappen avoided a penalty for his stern defence at the time, with Mercedes then requesting a right of review after more footage from the Dutchman's car emerged, only for the stewards to deny it.

The situation was discussed at length during Friday's driver meeting in Qatar, but following this, Hamilton and Verstappen expressed opposing views as to what is and isn't allowed moving forward.

"It's very dangerous"

Given that some drivers had vowed to change their approach if Verstappen wasn't penalised, Wolff is concerned about the situation heading into the final three races of the 2021 title fight.

"I think it's very dangerous, because I think what happened [on Friday], and also in Brazil, is kicking the ball in the high grass and hoping that the ball disappears," Wolff told media, including RacingNews365.com.

"If we would have a controversial situation in any of the three races that are to come, can you imagine the polarisation and controversy this that this will create? Simply because it's not clear - it wasn't clearly formulated.

"I would have wished that, even if the outcome was negative for us in Brazil, in terms of the immediate judgement, I would have taken that if the consequent analysis would have been, 'That's not on'.

"I think that would have been easier for everybody, for the next races."

Sympathy for the stewards

Despite his concerns, Wolff admitted that being a steward is an unenviable task, and played down suggestions that a permanent panel needs to be introduced to improve consistency.

"I think we had good stewards, to be honest, in Brazil. I think it was just the circumstances were bizarre," he commented.

"They are under so much pressure, taking the right decision, and I wouldn't want to say about any stewards that they are good or bad.

"I wouldn't want to be in that stewards' seat, because somebody is always going to complain and the other side is always going to be quiet.

"I think being a steward is a professional job and it should be well-paid, the pressure should be rewarded. Whether it's a permanent institution, I don't know.

"But in any case, the best people should be doing that and I think we've seen many good stewards, and I still trust in any outcome."

Hamilton and Verstappen are set to line up first and second for Sunday's Qatar GP. However, Verstappen, who holds a 14-point lead in the standings, has been called to the stewards over an alleged yellow flag breach in qualifying.

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