Mercedes boss Toto Wolff hits out at ‘trash talk’ after Lewis Hamilton takes Qatar GP pole

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has hit out at paddock “trash talk” during the Qatar Grand Prix after Red Bull questioned the legality of Mercedes’ rear wing in Qatar as Lewis Hamilton beat Max Verstappen to pole position in the desert. Wolff and his Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner have once again locked horns across the weekend, with an ongoing disagreement boiling over on Friday as the pair were partnered in an FIA press conference. 

Red Bull argue that the supporting surface of Mercedes’ rear wing is deforming when driving down the straights at high speeds on track, which would reduce the drag on the W12.

Despite not lodging a formal protest to the FIA, Horner said they would be keeping a close eye on their main title rivals, adding that the FIA have taken a step and will be testing all rear wings after qualifying. 

Mercedes say their car is fully legal and in line with FIA regulations, with Wolff telling Sky Sports F1 he feels it’s overtaken some of the track action this weekend, with Red Bull and Mercedes locked in a tense championship battle. 

I think there’s a little bit of too much focus in emphasis on politics and off-track trash talk. I think we need to concentrate on what’s happening on track,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1.

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Hamilton beat Verstappen by 0.455s to take pole position ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix, trailing Verstatappen by 14 points with three races remaining.

He added: “I think everybody in the performance group, the ones running the simulator and working on the setup centre track team, they did a fantastic job.

“We are understanding the car much better. It’s coming together. The drivers have a better understanding how to set it up and this is the result.

“But you can see how quickly it can swing in Mexico. It was all tears and the following weekend we were dominated so you just need to be vigilant.”

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With three races remaining, Hamilton needs to close a 14-point gap to Verstappen in the driver standings to swing the championship back towards the seven-time world champion before they run out of races.

Off the back of a dominating performance in Mexico, Wolff believes it’s a good time for a momentum swing.

Wolff continued: “It’s very good. And the car is good and solid. 

“They [Red Bull] did a good straight-line speed today, by the way with a big wing so they also found some performance.”

“So we just need to finish good tomorrow, score some points and get some back and then maybe go to Abu Dhabi and whoever wins, wins the World Championship.”

Verstappen starts P2 tomorrow, just behind Hamilton in pole position with Valtteri Bottas in third.

Yet, when told about Wolff’s comments about Red Bull finding some straight-line speed, Verstappen joked back to Sky Sports F1 saying: “I think they lost some.”

The Qatar Grand Prix gets underway at 2pm GMT on Sunday afternoon.

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