......"This is either deliberate or incompetence".........Toto Wolff 8/7/2018.
The mere fact I have to write this article is an indictment on some of the key stake holders in F1. If you are unaware of what I am referring to then I take you back 24 hours to the British GP of 2018. On the opening lap contact was made between Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes. The contact saw Lewis spin out and resume in last spot. The Stewards saw fit for Raikkonen to be given a 10 second penalty at his next pit stop. After video footage was reviewed it was clear Raikkonen locked the inside front right wheel making him run wide and contact the right side of Hamilton's car. The incident saw no damage to either cars and both continued to the end of the race.
No doubt the incident was worthy of a 10 second penalty given Raikkonen continued on unimpeded unlike Lewis having to continue from the rear of the grid. As the race unfolded Sabastian Vettel forged ahead and won the race from Hamilton who came from last into second and Raikkonen finished third after his 10 second penalty was served on his pit stop.
The post race interviews from parc ferme was really our first glimpse of Lewis's disdain on the whole situation. He completely ignored fellow Brit - Martin Brundle conducting post race interviews as top three drivers exit their vehicles. Lewis saw fit to exit parc ferme and walked directly to cool down room before appearing on the podium. At the podium he would go on to say - "Interesting tactics, I would say, from their side but we will do what we can to fight them and improve in the next races". This left us all assuming that his inference suggested the Ferrari intentionally made contact with him.
Being good at their craft, Phil Duncan from the Press Association went down this line and asked Lewis to clarify those comments at the post race press conference. This time he left no question about what he was trying to say - "All I’d say is that it’s now two races that the Ferraris' have taken out one of the Mercedes, and a five-second penalty and a ten-second penalty doesn’t appear to feel… ultimately it spoils the race. It’s a lot of points that ultimately Valtteri and I have lost in those two scenarios."
Lewis over the years has had a history of not being completely mature and diplomatic when the cards don't fall his way. Mercedes Team Principle Toto Wolff represents the Mercedes brand in the professional manner it deserves. At this point he either throws his driver under the Mercedes bus or he sides with his perceived conspiracy theory. Toto clearly saw fit to side with his driver....and some......"To put it in James Allison’s words: This is either deliberate or incompetence. It leaves us with a judgement. I am not happy. We had a difficult weekend, qualifying on pole and then getting take out on lap one, it puts you on the back foot.” I would suggest the Toto had a serious re-think of those words and later added on the F1 Twitter show - "None of these things are done deliberately but it is just tiresome."
I have been following this sport since the early 80's, I have also been following NASCAR from about the same period. Here is a news flash, in NASCAR you can deliberately take out your competitor and continue on unimpeded......you can also achieve the same result in an F1 car, but the skill level required in an F1 car is almost unprecedented. In fact I would suggest that there isn't a single driver on the planet that could exact such a move with repeated unimpeded success. Now if Nick Dicembre from the hoon capital of the world knows this I am sure Lewis and Toto do as well.
It's a natural reaction in adverse situations like the incident in the opening lap of the British GP that your Championship Driver / Championship Car is a moving target, it's how you handle it afterwards that counts.