Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Toto Wolff says 'fierce rivalry' with Ferrari was inevitable as Mercedes close Baku chapter

Wolff says world champions consider Vettel-Hamilton clash in Azerbaijan a "closed chapter" after FIA verdict

Toto Wolff says it was "only a matter of time" before Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton's title rivalry became "fierce and controversial".
But the Mercedes team boss says the world champions consider Vettel's clash with Hamilton in the Azerbaijan GP a "closed chapter" after the FIA decided against taking further action against the Ferrari driver.
Vettel received a 10-second stop-and-go penalty and three penalty points on his super licence after colliding with Hamilton in Baku, but still finished ahead of his title rival after the Briton was forced into an extra pit stop due to a loose headrest.
Wolff is content to draw a line under the incident, and says Mercedes' focus over the last two weeks has been on ensuring they do not suffer a similar issue with their headrests.
"Every great Formula One season is marked by a great rivalry," Wolff said.
"Last year it was our internal battle between Lewis and Nico and this year it seems that the fight is on between Ferrari and Mercedes and Lewis and Sebastian.
"As calm as it started, it was only a matter of time until the rivalry would eventually become more fierce and controversial. That moment happened in Baku and we saw the results of that tension on track.
"We have moved passed that moment now and it is a closed chapter. The hearing on Monday was between the FIA and Sebastian and it reached the conclusion we have all seen.
"Our focus since Baku has been on our own shortcomings, reviewing both the design and procedures around our headrest which cost Lewis the win two weeks ago."
Vettel holds a 14-point lead over Hamilton going into this weekend's Austrian GP, which is exclusively live on Sky Sports F1, while Mercedes lead Ferrari by 24 points in the Constructors' Championship.
Wolff believes it is great for the sport that there is such a tense battle at the front.
"There is great respect between Mercedes and Ferrari, two iconic motor racing brands, not only because of the challenging battle on track but because we are pushing for the same goal: to see Formula One flourish," he added.
All the TV times and ways to watch this weekend's race exclusively live on Sky F1.
"The new owners could hardly have asked for a better start to this new era than this epic battle between Mercedes and Ferrari.
"Add to the mix a Red Bull team that can win as well and it makes Formula One into a great spectacle."