Mercedes expected to be allowed to fix Lewis Hamilton’s rear wing and Toto Wolff was left in “disbelief” when he learned of the disqualification ahead of the Sprint at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
Hamilton was disqualified for a DRS technical infringement after failing a scrutineering test, having originally qualified fastest for the Sprint on Friday afternoon. Wolff says he spent a lot of time with Hamilton while the issue was investigated by the stewards but he fully believed the team would be in the clear as the wing had failed in some way during qualifying.
“Disbelief,” Wolff said of his reaction to the penalty. “Disbelief how things went, with a certain respect for the stewards, it’s difficult in that situation as it’s not an easy ruling on such a contagious topic where it is about a world championship, and they need to look at the specific situation and not at the big picture.
“But the process from telling us, discovering us we have marginally failed the test, we’re speaking 0.2 of a mm, to not allowing this to be fixed like the normal protocol would be but rather reported to the stewards, the bullet was out of the gun and I think that put the stewards in a very difficult situation to come up with the right judgement.
“To be honest, until late this afternoon we believed it was OK, because the wing was damaged. One side was OK, the middle was OK, the right side was not OK, that actually means we had a performance disadvantage, and we thought in consideration of all these aspects the FIA would say there was a damage and therefore we weren’t in breach of regs.
“And they also said there was nothing that happened with intent from our side and we were disqualified, which honestly I couldn’t believe. I thought that Ron Meadows was making a joke when I saw the WhatsApp. So strange things happen.
“But you have to take it on a chin and that last 60 minutes of motor racing from Valtteri (Bottas) and Lewis brought all the enjoyment back with all the frustrations that happened before.”
Some of you forgot just how good this man is.
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Mercedes will not appeal the decision to disqualify Hamilton, and Wolff says that’s due to the fact the stewards already ruled on the issue, something he feels should never have been the case.
“I think it is the argument of losing points tomorrow or losing all points is one consideration. But there is another consideration that there is a TD that describes a test and when you fail a test, that’s black and white. Therefore I think the outcome wouldn’t have been advantageous for us.
“I’m just saying that… it shouldn’t have even reached the stewards room if it was following the modus operandi of many, many years before. And that’s why I don’t believe we would have had particularly good cards for an appeal anyway.”
While Hamilton recovered to fifth in the Sprint, he will start from 10th due to a power unit penalty, and Wolff is wary of getting carried away with the current situation.
“It’s a Saturday sprint race and certainly a really great drive, but it’s not the grand prix, it’s not for maximum points. So we need to stay both feet on the ground and be humble for tomorrow’s race result and hope for the best.
“The overtaking was really impressive. I enjoyed every second. But in the same way I enjoyed Valtteri out there. The two of them gave both of us as a team a great afternoon.”