Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021

Wolff fears title-deciding crash if F1 fails to learn from Jeddah controversies

2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Toto Wolff fears this weekend’s championship-deciding race in Abu Dhabi could be “messy” following a series of controversial incidents in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton are level on points heading into the final race of the season and have clashed on numerous occasions over the course of the year, including in yesterday’s race.

The pair were involved in a series of incidents during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, even colliding with each other on a straight while Verstappen was attempting to give the lead of the race to Hamilton to avoid a penalty for an earlier incident. Verstappen received two separate time penalties from the stewards while Hamilton won the race.

Wolff is concerned the championship-deciding race could prove equally controversial and the title could even be decided by a collision between the pair.

“I would hope that [yesterday]’s race has enough repercussions that everybody’s going to learn from it and adapt for the final race in Abu Dhabi,” said Wolff.

“I think that similar driving – if it were to be deemed by the stewards as being over the line – would then probably also be penalised in Abu Dhabi and it could well end in a messy situation for everybody. And I don’t think that the championship has deserved a result which was influenced by a collision. So in that case I very much trust into the self-regulating system.”

Referring to the Sao Paulo Grand Prix in which Verstappen was neither investigated nor penalised over an aggressive defence of his lead which took both him and Hamilton off-track, Wolff believes the decisions of stewards throughout the season contributed to the tempestuous dynamic between the two rivals.

“I think [with] Brazil, I said that we are setting a precedent if it’s not being investigated, that could end up really ugly for the championship,” explained Wolff.

“And you’ve seen incidents [yesterday] that were pretty much Brazil at slower speeds and we don’t want to have that in Abu Dhabi. The quicker car with the quicker driver should win the championship and not by taking each other off.”

Despite the recurring clashes and escalating tensions between Verstappen and Hamilton, as well as between Mercedes and Red Bull, Wolff believes the rival teams will still be able to show respect to each other whatever the outcome of this weekend’s decider.

“The emotions are running very, very high,” Wolff said. “There is a lot of respect between the teams. Also for the achievements.

“That’s why as long as we have a clean race fighting for the drivers’ world championship in Abu Dhabi, it was a great season.”

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Will Wood
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140 comments on “Wolff fears title-deciding crash if F1 fails to learn from Jeddah controversies”

  1. If Hamilton wins this Championship, it will have been a crash that decided it, no matter what happens in Abu Dhabi.

    1. @proesterchen are you referring to Monza by any chance where Verstappen deliberately took out his rival.

      1. To spell it out for you since you apparently didn’t understand the statement you chose to whatabout to:

        There are no scenarios in which Hamilton wins the Championship and a crash will have decided it, regardless of what happens next weekend.

        There are scenarios in which Verstappen wins the Championship and a crash will not have been the deciding factor, depending on what happens in Abu Dhabi.

        1. *There are no scenarios in which Hamilton wins the Championship and a crash will NOT have decided it, regardless of what happens next weekend.

          1. Hey c’mon, atleast leave some room for yourself to untangle yourself from that word mess.

        2. Proesterchen,you should contact Red Bull and ask them to strongly protest Mercedes Front wing NOT been totaly destroyed after hitting the back of Max.
          That wing should be totaly not functional after such a crash,if not totaly broken
          This is BEYOND any F1 crash tests hence ILLEGAL.
          Moreover,something totally illegal must be going on for Lewis,on HARD tyres,with half of a crashed wing;to post fastest lap of the race as well.
          This is not only totally illegal,but Not normal at all.
          A protest should be made here as well as a new way to measure and homologate front wings at the very least.
          Those Mercedes front wing is simply too strong and too good to be legal!!!

    2. If Hamilton wins this Championship, it will be all Max’s get out of my way or crash incidents Ham has avoided this season that decided it.
      And if Ham does win it it could very well be because he avoided another Max crash in AD.

    3. You are quite right, if Verstappen had given Hamilton a bit more room round the outside of Copse, like Hamilton would have done, he’d be 18 points ahead at this race.

      He’s robbed himself.

      1. @scribe good point, I think this has not been said loudly enough. his mindset is to win races, not titles. verstappen was also very unlucky in Baku so it’s swings and roundabouts.

      2. He might actually have been 32 points ahead with the title sealed heading into AD. As I recall, Red Bull was then the faster car, and all he needed to do was wait a few corners to take Hamilton on the Hangar straight, either that lap itself or in any of the following laps before the chequered flag dropped. Simply put, he was the favourite to win then.

      3. He’d also be up if Ham had not driven off line, obtained dirty tyres and tried to take a high speed corner at a tight angle and understeer into him…

        1. lexusreliability?
          7th December 2021, 8:30


          He’d also be up if Ham had not driven off line, obtained dirty tyres and tried to take a high speed corner at a tight angle and understeer into him

          Hamilton would also be up if Verstappen didn’t try to overtake over a sausage kerb and take his head off. But Silverstone was worse than Monza in your eyes 🙄

          1. Of course Silverstone was much worse than Monza.
            One is a very high speed corner that requires pinpoint accuracy and barely doable to overtake at the best of times let alone with dirty tyres.
            The other is a very low speed chicane that can have two cars going through if both are respecful – see Ham and Norris in opening laps.

          2. @nandy, you said:

            Of course Silverstone was much worse than Monza.
            One is a very high speed corner that requires pinpoint accuracy and barely doable to overtake at the best of times let alone with dirty tyres.

            However, Hamilton managed to overtake Leclerc at the same corner, in the same way, without causing a crash.

            The fact is that Verstappen contributed to his own demise at Copse by not simply taking a wider line.

          3. lexusreliability?
            7th December 2021, 9:25

            Of course Silverstone was much worse than Monza.

            Yup on this note we have nothing further to discuss here. You complain that Max has lost points because of Lewis while also ignoring that Lewis has lost points because of Max. You think parking an F1 car on someon’e head is less lethal than someone crashing into a barrier with the car’s crash structure intact. I understand people having favourite drivers but when one sees things obly through orange tinted glasses it’s a waste of time and it’s not really a debate.

          4. @theskeptic

            Lewis would never have crashed into Max if he had tried to overtake Max like he overtook Leclerc. He took the corner much differently then.


            With the halo it’s certainly less dangerous. Also, what happened at Monza was one of the most dangerous possible outcomes of the clash, while Silverstone was a much luckier outcome, but you can’t really blame the drivers for it, since that outcome was not predictable. Max could have flipped at Silverstone and Max’s car couldn’t have ended up on top of the other car at Monza. That’s all down to luck, not choice.

            Your use of ‘parking an F1 car on someone’s head’ implies that this was a choice, which just demonstrates your bias.

        2. The steward’s report made it quite clear that car #33 turned into car #44, which failed to avoid contact. Yes, car #44 was taking a wide entry into the corner– but would have still completed the corner. Car #33 turned its wheel in such a manner that car #33 would never have completed the maneuver under any circumstances.

    4. The Bottas bowling-like crash in Hungary will be the deciding factor! He negated Max the chance of score points at all.

    5. F-1 has all the video files;

      Fans should be demanding the following statistics.
      How many times this year L.H. had to take evasive actions from Max’s wrath, versus the times the latter had to do likewise against L.H.

  2. Not been a fan of some of Toto’s reactions and comments throughout the season, but I agree with pretty much everything he said here. The stewards have failed to apply rules consistently across the board and that has significantly contributed to the escalation of aggressive driving. From the situation they are in now, it almost seems inevitable to me that this season is going to end in another collision, with the drivers championship being decided in the stewards room – the exact situation that the stewards have been trying to avoid by sitting on the fence as much as possible throughout the season.

    1. Agree 100%, they had plenty of chances to nip it in the bud but they didn’t

    2. Let’s suppose the Championship ends up being decided in the stewards room.
      If they decide against Merc, Toto could get stroppy and 3 teams will be without engines next year.
      If the stewards vote the other way, Red Bull could get stroppy, and next year there’d be a lack of the (maybe third favourite) fizzy drink in the paddock.
      Which outcome would have the most impact?

    3. Just too bad Formula 1 is at risk of turning into Formula Pariah with such driving standards accepted.

  3. “The quicker car with the quicker driver should win the championship and not by taking each other off.”

    Exactly and not a driver late braking so that rotating normally through a corner would be impossible yet forcing evasive action from another competitor. That is not racing.
    How many times have we seen brilliant execution of proper racecraft in close situations like Monza, second and third chicanes, instead of the dangerous and calculated bullyboy tactics displayed yesterday and in Brazil by the Red Bull.

    1. Exactly

  4. Max is only ‘leading the champion by virtue of the farcical’ non-race in Belgium, and the animation that is Sprint Qualifying.

    It will be a tainted championship if he wins it.

    1. It will be tainted for Hamilton as well, having shoved off Max at Silverstone..

      1. F-1 has all the video files;

        Fans should be demanding the following statistics.
        How many times this year L.H. had to take evasive actions from Max’s wrath, versus the times the latter had to do likewise against L.H.

        1. There are simply too many new F1 fans that don’t understand the sporting codes and code of conduct of drivers on track.

    2. Others would then point to Hungary, which is inarguably not Verstappen’s fault, and/or Baku (which arguably was Red Bull and Aston Martin taking risks with their camber, given how silent they got afterwards about what happened), it is what it is Stephen H.

  5. The final race will be crucial in two senses, who wins the championship, and how it’s won – on track or in the FIA stewards office.

    Both Verstappen and Hamilton have driven superbly this season. In terms of their speed, they’re on the same level. In terms of incidents, difficult to balance out, Hamilton was luckier earlier in the season, but he’s also been dealing the whole time with Verstappen’s aggressive driving (‘my corner or we crash’) and done so smartly. Since Interlagos, though, the balance has become seriously out of kilter with Verstappen seemingly unable to understand what is legitimate racing any longer- because Masi (or maybe who he works for) allowed that to happen. So we’re going into the final race ‘even’ but with, as Andrew Benson put it astutely today, two drivers heading “into a winner-takes-all championship decider in Abu Dhabi this Sunday with different views of what is fair and acceptable driving.”

    1. COTD right here, supremely put.

    2. Well-said @david-br. I really wanted HAM to go into the last race with 1 point lead so that VER would have the incentive to crash. Bottomline is that VER does not understand when he has lost a corner.

    3. I don’t get the point that Verstappen is all the sudden the aggressor compared to how Lewis is driving. Since Silverstone I’ve seen:
      – Lewis hits Verstappen at Silverstone and sends him in the wall
      – Lewis hits Verstappen at Monza by not giving room and they both tangle
      – Lewis pushes Perez in the pitlane at the Turkey Grandprix
      – Lewis hits Ocon 2nd restart at Saudi Arabian.

      Also, comparing Max his driving is far less reckless then Bottas. He collided with Russel, big crash, he crashed big in Hungary, hits Riccardo in Mexico and nobody cares about that. It’s all single sided to Max and making him the bad guy, but in reality he is just as average as any other driver on the grid.

      1. Hey @ruben!
        Verstappen was given penalty points for Monza, he was judged responsible for the collision.
        The Hamilton / Ocon incident you’re talking about was never noted by the stewards, it’s non existent.
        Same for Pérez and Hamilton in Turkey. By the way, Verstappen pull the exact same manoeuvre in the forst chicane of Imola against Hamilton. Or the first corner of Spain against Hamilton. Or turn 4 in Brazil against Hamilton. I see a pattern here.

        In the end, you only have one point: the collision in Silverstone.

    4. The F-1 Fans on social media ought to be demanding from Formula-1 their
      proposed preventative actions before Abu Dhabi.

      – will they ensure that Max conforms to the driving standards of all the other drivers;
      or, should all drivers embrace Max’s behavour?

      – what will be the penalty, or penalties, if Max unceremoniously takes out L.H., in order to win the championship by virtue of the most season victories?

  6. It’s a shame Hamilton couldn’t have gone into the final race with a point ahead. Perhaps that could have put an end to the “we crash or i get/stay in front” dirty driving from Verstappen. If there would be actual consequences to him not finishing then perhaps he would be a bit more fair? Probably not fully though, but still it might give him pause a little. Like how he didn’t try to bowl through Bottas on the first start.

    As it is, it makes no sense for Verstappen to play fair. If you can be like that and have no morals or shame whatsoever then why not use that fact and use every dirty trick available? Especially when you know you either won’t get a penalty at all or at worst a penalty that simply puts you back to where you were anyway.

    1. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
      6th December 2021, 14:24

      @f1osaurus Exactly. If Verstappen went into the last race behind on points we’d probably get a fair battle. But he’s ahead in the standings and seems to have no problem with cheating. Abu Dhabi is a poor circuit for overtaking, if Verstappen qualifies ahead he’ll most likely win in a better handling car, if Hamilton qualifies ahead he’ll most likely be crashed into by Verstappen, with the latter having no regard for finishing himself.

      If the FIA actually enforced the rules Verstappen would know that cheating doesn’t pay. Sadly the FIA has been teaching him that the opposite is true.

      1. @slightlycrusty Yeah I guess the FIA was trying to allow for more racing by relaxing the penalties, but they have only achieved the opposite

      2. I wouldn’t be so pessimistic. To me, part of Verstappen questionable driving comes from the superior car Hamilton has at his disposal. At Abu Dhabi, S1 is pretty much flat out and immediately followed by that looong straight line. All to play for with that Brazilian engine and DRS.
        I keep telling my partner that Hamilton must overtake Verstappen during an acceleration phase. I’m sure Lewis knows that too.

        1. I have no idea how far back Max has to be before he doesn’t consider one of his impossible dive-bombs against Lewis. It seems Max will always just inside line and force Lewis off at this stage. Perhaps baiting Max into one of his kamikazis and then pulling out, taking the corner while Max cannot and then either get a cut back or wait for the stewards to force the issue.

    2. As it is, it makes no sense for Verstappen to play fair.

      I think this is the sad part. His “driving style” has been legitimised so many times by the officials, and he’s be constantly told by Horner that it’s all fine, that he will not consider anything he does to be wrong. I think this is a “spare the rod, spoil the child” situation: He keeps getting away with this crap, so doesn’t think it is wrong. If he takes both of them out with one of his signature moves next weekend and is actually penalised for it, he won’t understand why because he has been allowed to do this for so long with little-to-no repercussion.

      1. @drmouse Indeed Verstappen actually was extremely upset that he was penalized for his fouls.

        The thing is that when Garry Connelly is one of the stewards you can usually count on the the rules being enforced. So that’s why Verstappen hates him. I’m guessing he helped make sure that the decisions in Jeddah were actually all following the rules for a change. I hope he’s a steward for Abu Dhabi again.

    3. Stop the charade, it’s all in your head. Fact is HAM won all these races where you still accuse VER of crashing into HAM etc etc, in the meantime VER is still listed as DNF at Silverstone because of HAM!!! Sooo, who’s the real loser??

      1. @mg1982 When will you realize that that Silverstone crash was a consequence of the way Verstappen always goes for the crash? And yeah he might have lost the championship by going for that crash.

        While on the other hand, Hamilton did the sensible thing and not keep turning in on Verstappen in Brazil and Jeddah 2 times. And he won both. That’s how Hamilton in the slower car over most of the season is actually tied going into the last race. Verstappen had the car advantage to have wrapped this up several races ago, but he bottled it so many times that he’s now tied on points going into the last race. So yeah if you want to pick the loser then maybe there’s your answer?

        1. Did you really say that the Mercedes has been the slower car?
          Tracks where RB were quicker:
          Bahrain, Monaco, Baku, Austria (x2), Zandvoort, USA, Mexico (8)

          Tracks where Merc were quicker:
          Spain, Portimao, Hungary, Russia, Monza, Turkey, Brazil, Qatar, Jeddah (9)

          Too close to call: Imola, France, Silverstone

          Not counted: Spa

          People seem to think that RB has had the faster car throughout the season which is simply not true – the only reason that narrative still stands is due to pre season testing and the ‘spell of dominance’ from Monaco to double Austria. Apart from that, the cars have been relatively even so far

          1. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
            7th December 2021, 7:40

            Mercedes weren’t quicker in Jeddah, RB fitted the wrong tyres.

          2. In Imola, Portimao, Spain, Hungary, Turkey and Jeddah Verstappen botched Q3. He had the faster car though

        2. Absolutely no way red bull had the faster car in portugal and spain, that’s a joke! Even turkey, they were in general better in quali, but in some of these races merc was so superior verstappen could only beat an average driver in bottas, and he couldn’t even do that in turkey, absolutely makes no sense when you remember the races.

          1. @esploratore1 He was faster in FP3 showing he had the faster car. Then bottled it (as he usually does) in Q3. Like had the fastest lap in Q3 but it was deleted or he set his fastest lap when the track had slowed down a lot. ie Faster car 100% sure in quali.

            During the race he was also faster, but couldn’t make it work. Fastest laps too. Even when both went for it.

            Fact is, Verstappen HAD the faster car for those races, but ruined quali and his strategy.

            With all this blah blah from Verstappen that he would get every pole and win every race if he only had the fastest car like Hamilton does. Reality is that he messes up in at least half the cases when he has the fastest car. Again shown in Saudi Arabia as well. Double fail again both in Q3 and race.

      2. That’s not fully accurate: VER is listed as DNF in Silverstone because of the wall. Seemingly the only feedback he seems to understand.

        1. @Learon

          I don’t remember the wall getting on track and hitting Max. Thanks for the information!

          Your alternative facts sure make you look reasonable.

      1. -1 imo, he’s saying some races where merc was clearly fastest red bull was fastest.

        1. @esploratore1 Because you pretend that when Verstappen doesn’t get pole and the win, the car must have been slower. Verstappen bottling Q3 and race strategies are his own fault.

  7. If the title is won by a crash MB, RBR, FIA & LM will only have to look in the mirror to see who is to blame.

  8. Sadly it feels inevitable. Red Bull and Verstappen accepting no blame or responsbibility for any of the incidents yesterday. Quite stunning to listen to Horner complain about Hamilton pushing Verstappen off at turn 1 while he stayed on track, but then say Verstappen running both of them wide off the track is “just racing”.

    I’ve watched again and am struggling to see what Hamilton did wrong all race, except maybe refusing to overtake in the area of track Verstappen wanted him to. But was that wrong? Bottas did it with Ricciardo, he took him once then got re-passed using DRS, the next time he hung back going into the final corner and took him into turn 1.

    Brazil going uninvestigated has led to this.