Toto Wolff – There’s a fine line between hard racing and bumper cars


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Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff would back changes to the regulations to allow “harder racing” in Formula One, but he said he believes the stewards at the Canadian Grand Prix got Sebastian Vettel’s penalty right by the wording of the current rulebook.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won Sunday’s race after Vettel, who finished ahead of him on the road, was penalised five seconds for an incident on Lap 48.

The Ferrari driver was in the lead of the race when he ran wide at Turn 3 and rejoined on the exit of Turn 4 directly in front of Hamilton. The stewards deemed Vettel had rejoined the track unsafely at Turn 4 and forced Hamilton off the track, two actions that are subject to penalties under the current regulations.

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Wolff believes there is a fine line between racing hard and dangerous manoeuvres, but said the stewards simply applied the regulations to the incident in Canada.

“I think that the drivers are gladiators in high-tech machines and we want them to fight it out there on track,” Wolff said. “But it’s not trivial to find the line between hard racing and bumper cars in the future.

“Then the FIA becomes the point of safety, how hard can they drive? Making rules is such a difficult exercise and your verdicts will not always please everybody.

“In Canada, the interpretation was according to the rules. It’s clear that when you’re Mercedes-biased you will say that probably it’s the right decision and when you’re Ferrari-biased you will say it could’ve been interpreted in the other way around.

“It’s a little bit like the referee in football. Decisions will always polarise. And in the end, I think it’s great for the sport that we have emotions around it.”

Asked if he felt the rules should be tweaked to allow drivers to race harder, Wolff added: “I would really like to engage in discussions with the stakeholders, the FIA, and the teams to allow harder racing to the point that FIA can accept it from a safety standard.

“I’m all for hard racing and that should be reflected in the rules then we will have different stewards’ decisions.”

But Wolff said he did not feel sorry for Ferrari after the race.

“I don’t feel sorry — this is a no-prisoners sport. It can be the other way around too. But I can understand their frustration when the result goes against him.”

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