Join DRAKE at STAKE F1 PARTNER
FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Turkish Grand Prix - Istanbul Park, Istanbul, Turkey - November 15, 2020 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium with team principle Toto Wolff after winning the race and the world championship Pool via REUTERS/Ozan Kose

Hill: Unlike Wolff because he’s usually very sporting

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Turkish Grand Prix - Istanbul Park, Istanbul, Turkey - November 15, 2020 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium with team principle Toto Wolff after winning the race and the world championship Pool via REUTERS/Ozan Kose

Damon Hill is the latest to take issue with Toto Wolff’s show of disrespect for the massive achievements of Max Verstappen and Red Bull in this current era of the sport, which not too long ago Mercedes dominated in a similar manner.

In the eight years, from 2014 to 2021, Mercedes and their drivers racked up 15 Formula1 1 World titles, Lewis Hamilton claiming six F1 drivers’ titles, Nico Rosberg nabbing one and the team winning eight Constructors’ titles, all in a row.

It was an incredible era for the team, much like now and Red Bull. Also, every Sunday, we knew who would win. Normally Hamilton, if not then Rosberg until he departed, and then Valtteri Bottas. One could argue all flattered by the cars and power units that made Merc so dominant at the time. We marvelled at a team that raised the bar during the past decade, just about every season.

Until they didn’t at the start of last year. Their car and concept failed miserably [ask Lewis] and they paid the price as Red Bull got all their sums right. RBR drivers won everything early on, Sergio Perez even winning a couple before Verstappen took his game up a couple of levels, leaving his teammate Perez floundering.

Now the Dutch 25-year-old claimed every win since then as he cruises to F1 title number three. He just scored an unprecedented 10 GP wins in a row. Verstappen could go on holiday now and still win the title!

And all that, as predictable as it has become, is the marvel of a driver, a sportsman, at the very top of his game demolishing his rivals. It’s historic and no different from when Hamilton was unbeatable for all those years. Or Michael Schumacher when he took Ferrari to five years of successive glory. Again no different.

Eras of F1 dominance are always divisive

Hamilton fans loved it when he dominated, others lamented it. When Schumi was King, Tifosi and Germans loved it, while others didn’t. Ditto Max, his fans love it, and all of Holland too, others must stomach it as well.

For the purists, it’s part of the sport. The only problem here is that all the other teams (losers) did a very, very bad job with the new F1 aero regs and are paying the price.

One of those teams are Mercedes, who in the switch of a season, from ruling the F1 roost were suddenly way down the pecking order. Red Bull were the opposite. They challenged Mercedes in the final year of the old regs, it ended 1-1, Mercedes constructors champs and Max world champ. But since then Wolff’s team dropped the ball and are scrambling to find it again.

But Red Bull picked it up and are still running with it in hand while tearing through all the records they can tear and rewriting them, which clearly irks Wolff.

After the Italian Grand Pix at Monza on Sunday, when asked about Verstappen’s achievements, the Mercedes boss retorted: “For me, these kinds of records are completely irrelevant. It never played a role in my whole life. It’s yesterday. But the result itself shows a great driver in a great car who is competing on an extremely high level.”

Hill: This guy is special

verstappen red bull f1

Notably F1 World Champion turned pundit, Damon Hill was surprised by the apparent lack of respect by Wolff for the RBR record-breaking numbers: “It’s unlike Toto because he’s usually very sporting. But he is hurting a bit now. They know what it is like to be dominant and they didn’t even get on the podium in Monza.

“They seem to be a bit stymied and can’t seem to work out what to do. But who can? It seems like everywhere we go, Red Bull has got the upper hand. Max has achieved something no one else has ever done.

“Red Bull have won 14 races this year and it is an incredible record, but you can’t just put it down to the car. This guy is special. Throughout Max’s career, from the moment he arrived in F1, he has done things no-one has done before and he continues to polish off this season,” explained Hill.

The 1996 F1 World Champion is not alone in calling out Wolff for the Max disdain, Sky F1 pundit Martin Brundle was also perturbed by the comments: “I was a little surprised and disappointed that Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff played down this achievement over the weekend.

“They rightly received their due reverence and appreciation during their years of total domination from 2014 to 2020. At the same time Max and Red Bull will no doubt reflect on a few past actions and words which have diluted their current appreciation levels in some quarters,” added Brundle.

Perhaps taking a cue from Hamilton, who questioned the quality of Verstappen’s teammates compared to his own, Wolff’s subsequent comments have been described as unsportsmanlike and those of a sore loser. Hardly the image Mercedes would want to cultivate.