“Couldn’t Believe That…”: Toto Wolff Recalls Max Verstappen’s Most Contentious Move on Lewis Hamilton

Published 07/21/2022, 2:37 AM EDT

Formula 1 is an emotional rollercoaster. There is no guarantee you would still be the same person between the lights going out at the start and the waved chequered flag at the end. This was the story for Lewis Hamilton’s boss at the Saudi Arabia GP in 2021.

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Fans will talk about the 2021 season for years to come. No one ever thought that a year-long battle between two drivers could make you change your weekend plans. In the closing stages of the season, things heated up between the two championship protagonists.

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The standings pointed toward the Mercedes driver required to win all the closing stage races in his quest for the eighth world title. Going into the penultimate round of the season, Verstappen and Hamilton made a contact on the final few laps. It stirred up a huge controversy in the paddock and the emotions flew high.

On lap 37, the Brit attempted to overtake the Dutch, but the Red Bull went over track limits to defend the lead of the race. As a result, the team asked Verstappen to hand the position back to his rival, but strategically. In this ‘strategic’ attempt to gain the DRS advantage over Mercedes, he slammed his brakes in the middle of the track, which resulted in Hamilton’s front wing crashing into the rear of car number 33.

The seven-time world champion was quick to term it as a ‘brake-test’ over his radio. As soon as the incident happened, the television coverage switched to the German camp. This presented a view of the frustrations of the team boss, Toto Wolff. The Austrian was quick to take off his Bose headphones and slam them into the table, breaking them into two pieces. 6 months later, he revisited that evening in Jeddah at an IWC event.

He said “In a way we are control freaks. Sometimes I feel like a football coach: there’s a point where there’s nothing more you can do and you have to leave it to the players on the pitch to get the job done. That’s why when you’re there you have those reactions. Sometimes you need to push the pressure release valve,”

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“We knew we had to win every race in order to win the world championship, so when Max brake tested Lewis and it looked like we’d lost a front wing, I couldn’t believe that he’d just done that. That’s where that reaction came from. I calmed down and went to put the headphones back on when I realised there was only one earpiece still hanging together, everything else was still on the table!”

Did Max Verstappen brake test Lewis Hamilton?

Almost every F1 pundit views that incident in a different manner. Walking into the weekend, Verstappen had a mere lead of 8-points over Hamilton. Even though many termed it as a product of miscommunication, the telemetry shows a different scenario. As per the reports, the Red Bull car “braked suddenly (69 bar) and significantly, resulting in 2.4G deceleration.”

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Even British engineer Adrian Newey criticized the Dutch driver for his actions. He said “Probably what he did in Brazil last year was a bit naughty. Saudi was silly. I think he got frustrated with Lewis not overtaking him but he still shouldn’t have brake-tested him.”

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Watch This Story: Who is Lewis Hamilton’s World Famous Media Talent Manager – Penni Thow?

The steward’s verdict was a penalty for the 24-year-old driver. He received a 10-second penalty and 2 points on his super license. Nevertheless, this did not affect his position in the race as he still grabbed P2 and ended the weekend matched on points with the Briton. Do you think Verstappen deserved a harsher penalty for the incident?

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Anish Arora

193 articles

Anish Arora is an F1 Author at EssentiallySports. It is the competitive nature of the sport that not only made him an adherent follower of F1, but also inspired him to start his journey as an author for the most prestigious racing series in the world. Anish initially started writing for Formula 1 during his undergrad and now is a huge fan of the 'Silver Arrows'.

Edited By: Ankit Sharma

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