Wolff wants ban on team principals talking to race chiefs after Abu Dhabi rant

Toto Wolff has called for team principals to be banned from speaking to F1's race director in the middle of Grands Prix, despite regularly being heard doing it himself.

The Mercedes boss says the time has come for the practice to be stopped after it contributed to a farcical finish to the season in Abu Dhabi.

Wolff was heard pleading with race director Michael Masi as he lost his temper over the Australian's controversial call to end a late safety car period so that the final lap of the season finale could be held under race conditions.

As it stood Lewis Hamilton was about to win the race and the world title, but he was on old worn-out tyres and could not fend off the overtake from Max Verstappen on brand new soft rubber once the racing action had resumed.

Mercedes were furious with Masi as they felt he had broken the sporting regulations by allowing the race to resume before all back markers had unlapped themselves.

Only the cars between Verstappen and Hamilton had been allowed to do so, which enabled the Dutchman to close right up to the back of his title rival and, eventually, to overtake and beat him to the trophy.

Fans watching the drama unfold around the world were able to hear the team radio as Wolff contacted Masi to plead with him: "No Michael no – this is not right."

They also saw live footage of the Austrian in the Mercedes garage as he looked both helpless and furious while his star driver was being, in his view, unfairly treated.

Red Bull chief Christian Horner could also be heard speaking to Masi during the safety car period, while representatives of both teams have been heard doing so on numerous occasions throughout the season.

Mercedes protested the result, but the stewards rejected it as they said a rule which gives the race director complete control over the deployment and withdrawal of the safety car overrides the one about unlapping cars.

Radio conversations between teams and the race director like the one between Wolff and Masi are regularly broadcast to fans to promote transparency and to add to the entertainment of the overall spectacle.

But the Austrian now says it's time for that practice to end as the additional pressure placed on the race director may unfairly sway him or force him into making a rushed decision.

"I agree with Ross [Brawn]," Wolff told Motorsport.com , referring to the F1 managing director's opinion that team officials should not be allowed to speak with the race director during a race.

"But I equally blame Ross and myself because we have been part of the decision making to broadcast more of the channels for the purpose of transparency and entertainment for the fans.

"There is so much going on on the intercom that giving fans a little bit of an overview of all the little dramas that happen, like is the car breaking down, are we having some kind of strategy discussions, was meant well.

"But I think we overshot.

"I need to take myself by the nose, and Christian. We were given the opportunity to talk to the race director directly, and because we fight so fiercely for the interests of our teams all of us, we overstepped.

"We will stop this contact next year. It's unacceptable that team bosses put Michael under such pressure during the race. It's like the coaches negotiating with the referee in football."

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