The wife of Lewis Hamilton’s boss, Toto Wolff, has accused F1 chiefs of lacking integrity and robbing the Brit of the World Championship – issuing a rant hours before the Mercedes chief hinted Hamilton could leave the sport.
Former Formula One participant Susie Wolff, who is the CEO of the Venturi Formula E team, has become one of the first figures closely associated with Mercedes to speak up about the dramatic final Grand Prix of the season in Abu Dhabi.
FIA race director Michael Masi has been roundly criticized for his decisions around the use of the Safety Car, with many questioning F1 authorities while arguing that a baffling interpretation of the rules allowed Max Verstappen to overtake Lewis Hamilton on the final lap to win his first crown.
Hours before Wolff seemed devastated at a press conference and said he could not give any assurances Hamilton will return to Formula One next season, his wife, who made history as the first woman to participate in an F1 weekend at the British Grand Prix in 2014 under the Williams banner, addressed the scandal.
“He was not sure, either himself or Lewis would ever get over this.”
Sky Sports News Craig Slater reports as Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff says he can give 'no assurances' Lewis Hamilton will return to Formula One next season ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/NT1jfQaNdV
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) December 16, 2021
“Going into this final weekend, I believed both teams and drivers deserved to win,” she said, accompanying her words with a photo of herself embracing Hamilton.
“It was going to be a spectacle, a historic race that we all hoped would end without controversy. That wasn’t to be.
“What happened is still hard to comprehend and leaves me with a sick feeling… the way in which Lewis was robbed has left me in utter disbelief.
“The decision of one person within the governing body who applied a rule in a way which has never been done before in F1 single-handedly decided the F1 drivers’ world championship.
— Susie Wolff (@Susie_Wolff) December 16, 2021
Toto Wolff on his way to murder everyone who posted him partying pic.twitter.com/z1lg12eucH
— F2.Addict (@AddictF2) December 14, 2021
“Rules are rules, they can’t be changed on a whim or by one individual at the end of the race.”
Wolff said that her gripe was not to do with being a sore loser or aimed at Verstappen or Red Bull, who she called “deserving winners”, adding that “we always knew it was a strong possibility we may not win”.
She then spoke of seven-time champion Hamilton, praising her compatriot for showing “incredible integrity and dignity in the face of injustice”.
“You are the greatest there has ever been,” she said of the man who was knighted in England on Wednesday.
Christmas present I want to get drunk with Toto Wolff pic.twitter.com/56vNjsjm2w
— cherrybaby (@vianna_ang) December 13, 2021
“The outcome of the last laps on Sunday? Those who know, they know – even those who can’t quite bring themselves to admit it.”
When asked about Hamilton’s future, Toto Wolff said: “I think as a racer, his heart will say ‘I need to continue’. But we have to overcome the pain.”
Wolff also revealed that he nor his star driver will not be attending the FIA Awards Ceremony on Thursday night.
Wolff’s wife hoped that by March 2022 “there is a governing body with sporting integrity and fairness at its core so I can fall back in love with F1”.
She earned admiration from some fans who hailed her bravery in calling the fiasco as she saw it.
We need more bravery like Susie to have the guts to say it as the whole world say it!! Just can't believe how quiet @MercedesAMGF1 have been since the weekend, they haven't even celebrated their 8th manufacturers championship! Although maybe it's the word manufactured!!
— Yesman73 (@Yesman073) December 16, 2021
— Bwwwwoah (@Damagedinc85) December 16, 2021
“Like she said, don’t be mad at the drivers or teams,” remarked one. “They were just following orders. Blame the FIA entirely and maybe Mercedes for not taking the risk and boxing Lewis.”
“Max was the more deserving champion over the whole year,” argued another. “But this will always be marked down as a fixed race. It’s so unfair on both drivers.”
“We need more bravery like Susie’s, to have the guts to say it as the whole world says it,” came another appraisal.
“I just can’t believe how quiet Mercedes have been since the weekend. They haven’t even celebrated their eighth manufacturer’s championship.”
Felt really good to come home to a factory of World Champions
Thank you to everyone for the warm welcome today and more importantly for your hard work over the past year pic.twitter.com/sex1cJGbJK
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) December 15, 2021
Those on the other side of the argument, however, called it “tactical PR” in a bid to get Masi fired by the FIA, amid Verstappen saying he “doesn’t care” if an investigation sees him stripped of the title.
“I’m fine; I don’t even think about it too much, because I do feel like the world champion, and it doesn’t matter what they try to do,” Verstappen said on Wednesday.
“We won it on track, we won it when there was a green light and we passed them on track, and they will never be able to take that away from me anyway.
“About the possible appeal – I’m not busy with that. As a team, of course, it might be disturbing, but for us we have been really enjoying the last few days.”
Regarding his relationship with Toto Wolff, Verstappen said: “I think I can be a forgiving person but at the moment it’s still all so new… that it’s better not to talk about it too much.
“But I saw Toto in Monaco before Saudi, I had a dinner and he was sitting on the table next to me and we had a chat.
“He, of course, goes flat out for his team and I know mine also does everything they can.
“But besides that, I do think you should be accepting a loss – it doesn’t matter how much it hurts. I do think there that there’s a bit of a difference between the teams.”