Mercedes boss Toto Wolff labelled Romain Grosjean a moaner and declared he was lucky to even be in Formula One after the Frenchman called for Lewis Hamilton to be stripped of his pole position at Silverstone.
Hamilton survived a post-qualifying stewards’ investigation to keep his record-equalling fifth pole at the British Grand Prix as he bids to get his stuttering title charge back on track.
Hamilton, 32, was accused of getting in Grosjean’s way during the final phase of qualifying as he geared up for a fast run. Haas driver Grosjean was completing a quick lap at the time, and believed Hamilton’s antics cost him at least one position on the grid.
The stewards however, concluded that while Grosjean, who will start 10th on Sunday, may have been affected by Hamilton’s presence on track, he was not impeded. They chose not to take any action.
But Grosjean accused the stewards of not wanting to meddle in the title battle by issuing Hamilton, who trails Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by 20 points in the championship race, with a punishment.
“I am surprised by the wording of the statement,” Grosjean said. “If losing three and a half to four tenths is not being impeded, I am very surprised at what is.
“I think it opens room for a mess in qualifying and the rules are pretty clear. I know that there is a world title going (on), but we are in a position where we are fighting as hard as the boys at the front and I was impeded today.
“Maybe if it was another driver there would have been something. It does feel as though there are two types of decision. If next time I need to get my rear wing in his diffuser to show that I have been impeded (I will).”
But a furious Wolff went on the attack after being informed of Grosjean’s remarks. Grosjean, 31, has made more than a century of grand prix starts and is currently in his seventh season in the sport.
But the Frenchman’s formative career was hampered by a number of crashes. He was branded a “first-lap nutcase” by Australian Mark Webber, and even banned from the 2012 Italian Grand Prix after causing a huge crash at the previous race in Belgium.
“There are some who moan all the time and just continue moaning,” Wolff said on Saturday evening. “If Romain Grosjean comes out and starts asking for penalties for other drivers, you would rather look at his track record. He should be happy he is driving in Formula One.”
Before the stewards opted to take no further action, Hamilton pleaded no wrong doing. He claimed he had not been warned by his team that Grosjean was behind him on the circuit, and apologised if he hampered the Haas driver’s lap.
The stewards reached their verdict without speaking to either Hamilton or Grosjean, and the latter claimed he was surprised he was not asked to give his version of events.
“I was informed by one of your colleagues by the decision,” Grosjean continued. “I got a five-place grid penalty in China for slowing (to) 40kmph under double yellow flags, and today I lost a position and nothing happened.
“It is frustrating. It seems there is big inconsistency between the decision and who is doing the manoeuvre. If you look back in history people have been impeded in qualifying and got a penalty.”