Mercedes boss Toto Wolff reportedly silenced a troll by putting his middle finger up to them as he drove past in his car. The troll had apparently taken aim at the 50-year-old for his reaction to the controversy that surrounded the final Grand Prix of last season, where Red Bull ace Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to the F1 title.
Hamilton had looked set to win a record eighth F1 championship in December as he led the season-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with just a few laps remaining. But following a crash by Williams’ Nicholas Latifi, a Safety Car was called onto the track and the race was paused.
Verstappen made the most of the halt to switch his tyres, with Hamilton unable to do the same without losing track position. But remarkably, ahead of the restart, race director Michael Masi allowed cars that had come between the title protagonists to move out of the way. And the Dutch driver was allowed to pull level with Hamilton for a one-lap shootout.
Verstappen took full advantage of his fresh rubber as he soon overtook the Briton to cross the chequered line in first place and get his hands on F1 silverware for the first time.
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Earlier this year, Verstappen himself taunted Wolff by using the same phrase after a team-mate of his was punted out of a virtual endurance race by a competitor. “So instead of losing the spot, he just shunts you out of the way,” said the 24-year-old. “I will report it to Michael Masi. No, Mikey. No.”
Wolff’s despair intensified this season after teams were forced to redesign their cars in the wake of a whole host of regulations changes. Mercedes duo Hamilton and George Russell have experienced severe porpoising issues this year and are sixth and fourth respectively in the standings. Verstappen, meanwhile, has stormed to the top of the Drivers’ Championship leaderboard and looks almost certain to win the title once again.