Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says the gloves are off in the battle with Red Bull after multiple protests during the Austrian Grand Prix weekend.
Red Bull protested the legality of the Mercedes Dual Axis Steering (DAS) system on Friday, but had the protest rejected. The team then submitted new video evidence to the stewards on Sunday morning that resulted in Lewis Hamilton receiving a three-place grid penalty for ignoring yellow flags in qualifying, after he had originally been cleared.
“I found that the protest from Friday was actually fair play,” Wolff said. “Not (protesting) on Sunday, I recognize that, but fair enough, if you want to have a clarification you can do (that).
“Coming back on Sunday morning and turning around a decision from (Saturday)… if you have new evidence the rules allow it and you have to take it on the chin. I think that in the race, putting all these things together, the penalty was too harsh. But the gloves are off.”
Wolff was particularly unhappy with the penalty given to Hamilton during the race when he collided with Alex Albon as the Red Bull driver tried to overtake him around the outside of Turn 4.
“The stewards are always in a difficult position to make the right decisions,” he said. “I think it was a bad day for Lewis and a bad day for the team. Obviously he had the grid penalty in the morning with Red Bull digging out a different camera angle, but we have to take it for what it is. And then in the race, I would say from my perspective, the five seconds were too harsh.
“We’ve looked at the video now a couple of times, and Lewis had full lock in the corner and Albon had about 40 percent of the road left to make the corner. Different to lap one, where Lewis had to back out of Albon pushing Lewis, so in my opinion it’s not justified. But I understand the complexity of the job; some going for you, and some going against you.”