Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff shrugged off Max Verstappen setting a new record of 10 consecutive Grand Prix wins as “for Wikipedia” following Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix; Sky Sports F1 pundit Damon Hill felt that was a sign of Mercedes’ ongoing struggles to match Red Bull
Last Updated: 04/09/23 9:46am
Damon Hill believes Toto Wolff’s comments following Max Verstappen’s record-breaking victory in the Italian Grand Prix are a sign of frustration over Mercedes’ struggles to keep pace with Red Bull.
The Mercedes team principal was dismissive of the significance of the two-time world champion’s feat of becoming the first Formula 1 driver to win 10 races in a row, telling Sky Sports F1: “It’s for Wikipedia, nobody reads that anyway.”
Hill was surprised by the tone Wolff struck following Verstappen’s triumph at Monza but sees it as a reaction to a year in which the Brackley-based outfit have continued to be off the pace while rivals Red Bull have won all 14 races so far in 2023.
Mercedes team principal Wolff questions whether Verstappen would hold any importance to setting a new record of 10 consecutive Grand Prix wins
“It sounded a bit churlish and not very gracious, and unlike Toto because he’s usually very sporting,” 1996 world champion Hill told Sky Sports News.
“I think he’s hurting a bit now. They know what it’s like to be dominated and they didn’t even get on the podium.
“They seem to be a bit stymied and can’t seem to work out what to do, but who can? Ferrari did a great job in Monza – it suited their car, I think – but it seems like everywhere we go, the Red Bull has got the upper hand and we’ve just got to sit and watch this unfold.
“Can Red Bull win every race in the season? That’s not beyond the realms of possibility.”
Verstappen claimed first place at the Italian Grand Prix to set a new record of 10 consecutive first-place finishes
Verstappen had to battle Ferrari pair Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc before sealing a win in Italy which now sees him lead the drivers’ standings by 138 points from team-mate and nearest rival Sergio Perez.
The Dutch racer looks firmly on course to make it three championships in a row with eight rounds of the 2023 F1 season remaining, and Hill was full of praise for Verstappen setting another benchmark.
“He has achieved something no-one else has ever done, and the Red Bull team has won 24 out of 25 Grand Prix,” Hill said.
“They’ve won 14 races this year and it’s an incredible record, but you can’t just put it down to the car. This guy is special.
Ted Kravitz is in the paddock as he reviews all the biggest stories from the 2023 Italian Grand Prix
“Throughout his 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.
“He had some challenges from Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc as well, so there was definitely a bit of a race on.”
As for Mercedes, Hill is in no doubt the team are well advanced with plans which can once again turn them into race winners and title contenders.
However, he does not expect there will be any real change for them until next year.
“I think they’re beavering away back at the factory in Brackley furiously and they probably have a title contender in their back pocket,” Hill said.
“They just can’t use it this year because it won’t fit on this particular car, so it won’t be until next year when we’ll see that.”