Austrian investor and executive director of Mercedes AMG Petronas team Toto Wolff says that the rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel is good for Formula 1. The Mercedes driver challenged Sebastian Vettel to a “face-to-face” fight following Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, a race which in the end proved to be very spectacular and was won by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who took advantage of the many unpredictable events during the Grand Prix in Baku.
The German accelerated into the back of Hamilton’s Mercedes following the second deployment of the safety car, then seemed to veer his Ferrari into the side of the Briton’s car. Three-time champion Hamilton and Vettel, who share seven F1 world titles between them, have been noticeably respectful to each other during their Formula One career, so it is no surprise that this spat between the pair has electrified the F1 circus. However, Toto Wolff welcomed the new animosity between the two title-contender drivers insisting that true championship rivals “can’t be friends” in such a competition:
“Nobody wanted to see the schmoozing anyway, so now the gloves are off. The sport needs the rivalry. What we have seen today is the ingredient of a great championship. They are warriors. They are at war at that moment. They are fighting for the race wins and the championship. At a certain stage, the best ones that compete for the world championship in that phase of their careers can’t be friends. Maybe we have seen the limit of that respect today.” – Mercedes’ team director explained, as reported by the German media on Monday.
But the Silver Arrows’ Austrian official is unsure whether Sebastian Vettel deliberately drove his car into the side of Hamilton: “I can’t almost imagine he would shunt him on purpose. I would like to speak to him personally rather than making a judgement. If a driver does that on purpose and in anger then you have to think about the size of the penalty. He is a four-time world champion and we are is setting examples in Formula 1 about what is allowed and what is not.” – Toto Wolff concluded.