Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says he was “surprised” that the FIA chose not to investigate McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo after he clipped the wheel of Valtteri Bottas during the Mexican Grand Prix, ruining the Finn’s race.
After setting a blistering lap in qualifying, Bottas started on pole on Sunday, but after a sluggish start on the long run-up to Turn 1 he fell behind team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
Both Mercedes drivers were then caught napping as Max Verstappen swept around the outside of them both to take the lead, with Bottas sandwiched behind.
Disaster then struck quickly afterwards into the corner of Turn 1 as Ricciardo clipped the back wheel of the Mercedes into Turns 2 and 3, spinning the Finn around.
The incident ruined Bottas’ race as he dropped to the back of the pack in Mexico, leaving his team-mate Hamilton to fight up front on his own.
The stewards however opted against opening up an investigation into the incident.
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Mercedes dropped a huge amount of championship points in their fight against Red Bull due to the incident, and the boss Wolff was left surprised by the stewards’ decision.
When asked if an investigation should’ve been opened, Wolff said: “Yes, I think the stewards should have had a look into it but at that point.
“In hindsight, it was surprising that they didn’t look at a penalty.”
The incident was similar to one we saw in Turkey, where Pierre Gasly was hit with a five-second time penalty for sending Alpine’s Fernando Alonso spinning and tumbling down the order.
Often at the start of the race, any contact is regarded as a racing incident, with many questioning why then Gasly was penalised.
Asked if there were any issues regarding consistency from the stewards, FIA race director Michael Masi said: “No, I don’t think there is a lack of consistency as you’ve got to look at everything on certain merits.
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“You’ve got to look at each and every incident and see how it goes. For starters Turkey was wet, this was dry. Completely different corner configuration. There’s a whole lot of things.
“But as I said, I haven’t looked at the incident in great deal whatsoever.”
He added: “Having a look at the proximity of the cars of where they all are compared to each other, there’s a whole lot of different factors that come into it.
“The stewards’ view was that on this occasion it was a Turn 1 racing incident.”
Speaking after the race, Bottas, who finished in 15th, added that it was a “really tricky” day at the office.
“He really ruined my day today,” Bottas said, jokingly. “Obviously I’m sure he didn’t do the initial hit on purpose and it compromised his race as well.
“But it was not ideal for my race today. I was stuck behind cars that I couldn’t pass and it was really, really tricky.
“[We were] also quite limited with the engine and brake temperatures, so I couldn’t attack for many laps in a row. So I had to go back and forward, and couldn’t find a way to progress.”
Max Verstappen now holds a 19 point lead over Hamilton in the driver standings, with Mercedes just one point ahead in the constructors against Red Bull.