Formula 1: Drive to Survive has launched with another 10 episodes of behind-the-scenes action, a week before the 2023 season gets underway in Bahrain; Mercedes boss Toto Wolff warns rivals during heated row: “I’m going to come after you”
Last Updated: 23/02/23 6:42pm
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was involved in a furious row over porpoising with Formula 1’s other team principals, the release of season five of Netflix’s Drive to Survive has revealed.
Having entered 2022 on a streak of eight successive constructors’ titles, there was shock as Mercedes began their campaign well off the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari, with the team unable to control the unexpected bouncing of their W13 following the introduction of radical new design regulations.
The bouncing was so severe that seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton emerged from his car in visible discomfort after June’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, leaving Wolff adamant that the rules should be changed to protect the drivers.
At a meeting of all the team principals at the Canadian Grand Prix a week later, Wolff addressed his counterparts in what became an explosive encounter, as Red Bull’s Christian Horner and Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto hit back at him.
“I can tell you that all of you are playing a dangerous game,” Wolff said.
“If a car ends in the wall because it’s too stiff or it’s bottoming out, you are in the **** and I’m going to come after you.”
Red Bull boss Christian Horner questioned whether Wolff was “playing to the cameras”, suggesting that the conversation should be held without the Netflix crew present.
Wolff responded: “I don’t care. If you think this is a little game and performance, I tell you, you are very, very wrong.”
Binotto and Horner both argued that it was down to Mercedes to change the setup of their car to reduce porpoising, rather than the sport’s governing body, the FIA, to change the rules.
“No, Toto. Safety is a matter of team responsibility, braking system, suspension,” Binotto said.
Wolff angrily responded: “Each of you has found something to limit the problem, congratulations!”
Losing patience with Wolff’s argument, Horner shouted: “Well change your car. You’ve got a problem. Change your ****ing car.”
The argument continued as Wolff said that his rivals, who were suffering bouncing to a lesser degree, had a responsibility to their own drivers to update the regulations.
Eventually, F1 president Stefano Domenicali stepped in, promising that the FIA would discuss the issue “in the proper way”.
The FIA ultimately introduced a directive that immediately forced teams to limit the level of “vertical oscillations” their drivers were being exposed to, while further regulation changes were introduced ahead of the 2023 season to ensure teams run their cars higher above the ground.
The changes appeared to have little impact on Red Bull, with Max Verstappen charging to the drivers’ title and helping his team end Mercedes’ eight-year streak of constructors’ titles.
Mercedes did improve as the season went on, with George Russell winning the penultimate race of the year in Brazil, but ultimately were never fully able to address their bouncing issues.
All 10 episodes of Formula 1: Drive to Survive are available on Netflix from Friday, February 24. Sky customers can access Netflix via Sky Q and Sky Glass.