Red Bull’s allegations in a letter submitted to the FIA as part of its appeal against Lewis Hamilton’s penalty were “a step too far,” according to Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.
Hamilton received a 10-second time penalty for the contact with Max Verstappen that saw the championship leader crash on the opening lap of the British Grand Prix, registering an impact of 51G. Red Bull petitioned for a right to review the penalty but had that appeal dismissed by the stewards, who also noted certain allegations “with some concern”, leading to strong statement from Mercedes on Thursday night.
“I think we wanted to bring a little bit of respect back to the discussion,” Wolff said of the statement. “We understand that emotions can run high; it’s always a matter of perspective and perception but we felt that that line was overstepped.
“I think the remarks that were made during and after the Silverstone grand prix were just elaborated further in the document. Not always looking at the incident only but giving it a wider taste. That was beyond other things, just a step too far.”
Wolff stopped short of calling for Red Bull to apologize for the comments, as he believes the situation needs to be calmed now after Hamilton was subjected to racist abuse on social media.
“I think everybody needs to decide if they want to apologize or not. We felt that comments that were made during and after the race in written statements and in the meeting itself were below the belt. It’s not up to me, nor would Lewis want that, to demand any apologies.
“I can’t (add more) because I don’t want to ignite even more fire and controversy. I think what we need to do is de-escalate and not create more polarization in social media.
“I think Formula 1 needs content, and controversy — as long as it is around the sport — can be quite entertaining. But there are certain boundaries we need to respect and the sport should unite and not create more polarization, especially in a sport that cannot be proud yet about its diversity and equality. We just need to get the words right, and therefore let’s aim to de-escalate rather than to fuel.”