Toto Wolff gives firm response when asked if Lewis Hamilton was ‘cheated’ out of F1 title

F1: Hamilton ‘shouldn’t be complaining’ says Ecclestone

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Toto Wolff has insisted Lewis Hamilton wasn’t cheated out of winning the F1 Drivers’ Championship this year. The Mercedes star was on the verge of glory in Abu Dhabi last week. Yet he was overtaken by Max Verstappen on the final lap, preventing him from making history in the process.

Hamilton went into last week’s race looking to move ahead of Michael Schumacher with eight F1 titles.

Yet despite leading for the majority of the race, the 36-year-old was overtaken by Verstappen on the final lap and forced to admit defeat.

In the immediate aftermath of the race, Mercedes saw two appeals regarding the result turned down by the FIA.

And, in midweek, they withdrew yet another protest – leading to Verstappen officially being confirmed as the sport’s newest champion.

Now, in an interview with BILD, Wolff has compared the controversy surrounding the FIA to Diego Maradona’s infamous ‘Hand of God’ against England in 1986.

He said: “It is definitely on a par with the ‘Hand of God’ by Diego Maradona or the Wembley goal from 1966.”

But when directly asked if Hamilton was ‘cheated’ out of glory, Wolff insisted that wasn’t the case.

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“No,” he said.

“An inconsistent decision by the race director took the title away from Lewis.”

Wolff also shed light on Mercedes’ decision not to lodge an appeal in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, saying they would have felt ‘powerless’.

“We decided together that we would protest and wanted to carefully consider a possible appeal,” said the Mercedes chief.

“We decided together not to do this. The FIA would have been a defendant and a judge at the same time.

“This releases a feeling of powerlessness. Just like on Sunday in the last lap, that’s how I felt as a child.

“Lewis and I are still completely disaffected. My heart and soul still cry with every pore.

“When the principles of sport are disregarded and the stopwatch is no longer worth anything, one begins to question whether all the work, blood, sweat and tears are worth it.”

While Wolff insisted Hamilton hadn’t been cheated out of F1 glory, he’d previously said last week the Brit was ‘robbed’ of the prize.

“The decisions that have been taken in the last four minutes of this race have robbed Lewis Hamilton of a deserved world championship,” he said after the race in Abu Dhabi.

“His driving, particularly in the last four races, was faultless.

“He had a commanding lead on Sunday in Abu Dhabi from the get-go. He won the start and he never gave the lead away again.

“And robbing him in the last lap of the race is unacceptable.

“That’s why from a personal standpoint, from a professional standpoint, my values, my sense of integrity, just isn’t compatible to the decisions that have been made on Sunday.

“And it is up to the FIA to decide going forward how these decisions, these situations can be avoided.”

Wolff hit out at FIA chief Michael Masi, too.

“If you look at most of the controversies that have happened this year it was about sporting decisions on the track, the inconsistency of the execution of the regulations on track,” he said.

“It’s one thing to drive hard and to have difference of opinion among the drivers and the teams. It is in the nature of the game.

“But inconsistent decision-making leads to controversies, leads to polarisation and that was the ground for many of the totally unnecessary controversies on the track.

“How can it be that 14 months ago at the Eifel Grand Prix the explanation that was given was exactly the contrary to what has happened on Sunday?

“The explanation that was given that the reason why the Safety Car was out there so long is that all cars need to un-lap themselves with the explanation that this is following the sporting regulations.

“Not only the decision has been taken in a totally opposite way but an explanation is being made 180-degree different to what happened 14 months ago.

“If you decide to deploy the Safety Car there’s clear regulations in place.

“The regulations are that all cars need to un-lap themselves before the race can be restarted. And only in the following lap, once all cars have un-lapped themselves, the Safety Car may come in.

“None of that happened. None of that happened. Randomly, cars were allowed to overtake and to un-lap themselves.

“Why was Carlos Sainz not given the opportunity to win the race? Why were the cars left in between there?

“Why was the Safety Car pulled in against what the regulations say? So the ad-hoc decision-making just caused this mayhem.”

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