Toto Wolff sides with Guenther Steiner as fans urge F1 to change rules

F1 preview: A lap of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Toto Wolff has backed Guenther Steiner over F1 rules as fans demand changes after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The Mercedes boss defended F1’s new regulations despite Red Bull’s dominance in Baku and a lack of overtaking.

Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen cruised to another one-two finish while the teams behind struggled to make moves stick. Reddit user @catchingisonething claimed the disappointing race had just 23 overtakes, the same as last year’s Grand Prix.

However, this was down on 62 passes in 2018 and 58 the year before. Wolff commented: “I think after a race weekend like this, we mustn’t talk it down overall and say, ‘that is the wrong direction and we need to change completely’.

“It is more about understanding why it wasn’t entertaining and revisit it, and you have two cars that are sailing off into the sunset on merit, then there’s a 22-second gap. I wouldn’t know today between Aston Martin, Ferrari and us who is quicker, because you’re stuck where you’re stuck, and then that’s pretty much it.”

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Several drivers moaned at the lack of passes with Lando Norris revealing it was “impossible to overtake”. Mercedes stars George Russell and Lewis Hamilton appeared to point the blame at DRS changes.

Race officials reduced the activation zone on the main straight by 100m ahead of the race weekend. However, fans called on F1 bosses to ditch the current regulations which were introduced in a bid to boost overtaking and improve the show.

Twitter user @F1_Jordan said: “F1 is really done unless they change the rules again. This isn’t sustainable.” @coyy501 posted: “The regulations haven’t worked. F1 is honestly so embarrassing. We saw better racing in 2021.”

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@SeanMaddocks13 added: “How bad is it for @F1 that the most exciting part of their sport is when a safety car comes out. Fans pray for rain, crashes or pit stop f*** ups just to make the race more exciting. These new regulations really have made the sport go backwards.”

However, Haas boss Steiner has also backed the new regulations as he stressed Red Bull were unlikely to be dominant for the rest of the season. The Austrian told Autosport: “I would say they work. Obviously at the moment, Red Bull has an advantage, but I wouldn’t say they’ll keep that advantage now for the next 20 races.

“I’m not so sure about that because everybody will catch up, and hopefully we find out how Red Bull came to this advantage and we can copy it, or do something similar.

“Everybody will be working hard. Then you never have to forget Red Bull has got the penalty from last year, they can do less development in the wind tunnel this year, so they cannot move a lot ahead anymore in theory.”

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