Toto Wolff Claims Max Verstappen Only Retired To Flex His Superiority in Jeddah

Vidit Dhawan
|Published 18/03/2023

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has issued a baffling reaction to Max Verstappen’s retirement in the Saudi Arabian GP qualifying. The Dutchman exited Q2 after encountering a driveshaft mechanical failure, as confirmed by a statement from Red Bull Racing.

However, Wolff suspects that the Milton Keynes outfit perhaps had an ulterior motive when they chose to retire Verstappen.

‘Maybe they did it on purpose…’: Wolff on Max Verstappen’s retirement

While speaking to Sky Sports F1 after Saturday’s qualifying session, Toto Wolff bizarrely claimed, “Maybe [with Verstappen’s problem] Red Bull have done it on purpose to win it all the way from the back!”

Even though there is no denying that the Milton Keynes outfit has produced by far the fastest car in the 2023 season so far, it would still be strange if they retired Max Verstappen just to prove a point.

As a result of the Dutchman’s failure to set a lap time in Q2, he will most likely start Sunday’s race 15th, provided there are no penalties.

Also Read: Max Verstappen Reveals the Only Thing That Would Have Stopped Him From Taking Part in Saudi Arabian GP

Toto Wolff believes Mercedes got what it deserved

While Max Verstappen had a disastrous qualifying session, Mercedes was not much better either. The Silver Arrows’ struggles continued as George Russell’s mighty lap was also just good enough for fourth.

And the qualifying was far worse for seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton, who could just manage to set the eighth-fastest time. His lap time was surprisingly slower than Alpine’s Esteban Ocon’s as well.

Speaking of his drivers’ struggles during qualifying, Toto Wolff said, “I think it’s where we expected to be.” The 51-year-old then went on to acknowledge his team’s deficits compared to their rivals but did state that he believes they should have a similar race pace to that of the Ferraris.

When it came to Red Bull Racing, the Austrian motorsports executive believes that they have ‘a different car’ and are way ahead of the competition.

Wolff concluded his remarks by explaining the staggering difference in lap time between his two drivers after Russell out-qualified Hamilton by over 0.3 seconds. “It (Hamilton’s lap) looked a bit sticky in sector one, and the time never came together, so we need to see the differences in set-up we have,” explained Wolff.

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About the author
Vidit Dhawan

Vidit Dhawan

Vidit Dhawan is an F1 writer at The SportsRush. He fell in love with the sport at first sight when F1 visited India in 2011. The noise and the racing action from lights out and away we go to the chequered flag are what keeps him at the edge of his seat at all times. Vidit has been a lifelong Fernando Alonso fan and sees Charles Leclerc as the future of the sport. Other than F1, he also follows football and tennis closely.

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