Title fight will be “hard but very clean” after race director’s warning to drivers – Wolff

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton will not be “pushing anybody off or hitting anybody” in today’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix following the warning over unsporting conduct issued before the weekend, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes.

Ahead of Formula 1’s closest championship decider since 1974, Mercedes boss Wolff said he had no concerns about a collision between the two contenders.

“I haven’t spoken with Lewis about that,” he explained, “because I think that the race director sensitised the drivers about the possible consequences.

“I have no doubt that the drivers will race hard because this is about the Formula 1 world championship. But I have confidence that it will be very clean, hard but very clean, not pushing anybody off or hitting anybody. And this is what this epic championships is about, as a final.”

Wolff believes Red Bull have gained the upper hand in set-up around Yas Marina after Hamilton lost pole position to Verstappen.

“Their car was very quick, as you can see where Sergio [Perez] is. He was competitive, he’s right there – what is he, P4? And although that was pretty compressed, I think they just tuned the car in a way that it was very competitive in qualifying.”

However he suggested the RB16Bs may have been tuned more for single-lap pace than race stints. “It reminds me of the Jeddah pace, which was unachievable for us and that certainly they improved massively with the single-lap pace.”

Cooling temperatures in the evening qualifying session – and race – may also work in Red Bull’s favour, Wolff added. “Maybe the ambient worked for them, got a bit colder and this is why.

“We were on the colder side of our tyre temperatures and that certainly didn’t help. We started to lock up and lose some time in five, and I believe it was 12, 13.”

Hamilton will start from second place on the medium compound tyres, while Verstappen starts from pole on the softs. While the race has typically only seen a single pit stop in previous years, Wolff believes “the two stop is always a viable variant” this weekend.

“You can attack and go on a two-stop or you can manage and try to make a one-stop, which could be tricky at the end. So I think we need to see.

“We saw quite some deg on the soft in the long runs. Less so on the medium, which makes it exciting in terms of the strategies. But definitely for us a one-stop looks good and a two-stop is definitely on also.”

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2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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12 comments on “Title fight will be “hard but very clean” after race director’s warning to drivers – Wolff”

  1. Maybe not. Red Bull have 3 other drivers in the race, though. They will all be mobilized in the race to assist Max’s effort, not that Tsunoda seems to need much encouragement.

    1. And merc have both aston martins(that Wolff is a shareholder of) and williams so what’s your point?

  2. Did Valtteri’s overalls fade in the wash or is that his leaving present?

  3. Toto still believes in Fairies & Father Christmas!
    Leopards can’t change their spots.
    Anyone fooling themselves that Vera Slapem will pay any attention whatsoever to directives?
    Oh? Has Karen Spice told his chap to behave in a sportsmanlike way today?
    Be the most massive turn around in F1 history.
    Up there with Toto if you believe that!

    1. So far the only driver to benefit from deliberate crashes is Hamilton at Silverstone and hamilton in hungary

  4. And if hamilton wins it will have an asterisk next to it, considering he’s only in the title fight because of taking max out at Silverstone and bottas doing the same in Hungary.

    Never will a title go to a least deserving driver

  5. Apparently the standard is no longer that you need to leave room on the track when side by side.

  6. The title fight will be hard and clean between the drivers, but the race director will continue to make it up as he goes on…

  7. Sorry, what did you say Toto. I didn’t quite get that?

  8. Hard but very clean ONLY on track.

  9. Too bad Michael Masi couldn’t be as stringent in front of a mirror as he is in front of the cameras.

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