"Brutal, incredible scars. We will never get over them”: Toto Wolff insists Mercedes haven't fully recovered from Abu Dhabi 2021 fiasco
Mercedes F1 team principal Toto Wolff has said that the farcical end to the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP has left "brutal scars" and memories, from which they will never recover.
Mercedes ace Lewis Hamilton was denied his record-breaking eighth championship in the season finale at Abu Dhabi. A 'human error' from race director Michael Masi, meant Hamilton's rival Max Verstappen was crowned the 2021 champion.
Nearing the second anniversary of the infamous event, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem sympathized with Masi, who received severe backlash and was immediately sacked. Ben Sulayem also said that he was open to bringing back the Australian.
Hearing the latest comments surrounding Michael Masi's return, Toto Wolff reflected on the incident describing him as an "idiot."
“Brutal scars, incredible scars, and we will never get over them – in a way. They became scars, and there are moments when you think – How could that happen? We know how it happened," he told motorsport.com. "But I don’t want to waste a minute [thinking] about the reasons, because that would give the guy [Michael Masi] too much credit."
“He’s just an idiot who made the wrong decision.”
The ending of the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP sent shockwaves through the motorsports community and remains one of the most controversial F1 races. The historic race is deeply divisive among fans.
It is highly unlikely Michael Masi will return to FIA in any form, given the backlash it would generate from the fans.
Toto Wolff admits Mercedes facing uphill climb to catch Red Bull
After Mercedes secured P2 in the constructors standings, team boss Toto Wolff has set his sights on Red Bull. While the Silver Arrows have bested their competitors in 2023, he reckons there is a Mount Everest-sized challenge ahead of the team.
“You know, when you win P2, it reminds you that you lost P1,” Wolff was quoted by F1.com. “I think we need to take it on the chin, be humble about it, and consider today as a good day. Nevertheless, there is a Mount Everest to climb in order to catch up with Red Bull."
The Austrian also expects strong competition from the resurgent McLaren and Aston Martin team in the upcoming season.
“I have no doubt that McLaren is going to be right in the mix next year, maybe Aston Martin, maybe others, and we must leave no stone unturned [at Mercedes’ factories] in Brixworth and in Brackley," he said.
“As tough as it is to be reminded that it’s just P2, it’s also a great, great opportunity to come back and drive for the stars.”
Toto Wolff had indicated the team will be changing the concept for the W14's successor, hoping to make huge gains with the changes.