Let me be clear, Toto Wolff did not say nor does he believe Max Verstappen is a thief nor did he steal the 2021 World Championship. Wollf, however, is still smarting from the war like championship season just gone. Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton was a wheel-to-wheel battle. On many occasions, Verstappen banged into Hamilton in an attempt to assert his alpha-male authority. But it didn’t work, Verstappen’s intimidation tactics only served to make Hamilton fightback. Verstappen found out the hard way just how difficult it is to go against a 7-times world champion. On some occasions, it felt as though Verstappen brought a tea towel to a gunfight.
To go against the quality of Hamilton, Verstappen had to raise his game to another level. And then he had to take another step up. Verstappen’s first world championship is a measure of Hamilton’s quality and that’s why it will always be the most important F1 championship he will ever win. However, Toto Wolff is still recovering from the tumultuous season gone.
Wolff believes that Verstappen was too aggressive against Lewis Hamilton throughout last season’s campaign. The Boss of Mercedes F1 AMG used a crowbar analogy to depict how Verstappen won the 2021 F1 drivers championship. During an interview with Austrian news site OE24, Toto Wolff laid bare his thoughts on the matter:
“Last year  Max drove a worse car with a crowbar and won the title. Now  he has the fastest car, so everything is easier for him, the pendulum is swinging in his favor.”
Many will argue otherwise. Certainly, in 2022, Verstappen has been fast and feisty when fighting for wins with the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc. Indeed Verstappen has conducted himself with almost gentlemanly precision. That could be because the Red Bull is as fast if not slightly faster than the Ferrari.
As for Mercedes, after having the fastest car towards the end of 2021, the 2022 W13 is proving to be a difficult car to understand. The W13 has porpoising issues which in turn is preventing the team from unlocking its fullest potential.
New parts have reportedly been trialed during a private filming day at the Paul Ricard circuit in France. Teams are allowed two filming days per year, there are no rules governing what can or can not be tested.
However, Mercedes will find it difficult to eliminate its current issues ain a bid to find a sudden uplift in speed. In Formula One, if a car starts the season slowly, often it takes the entire season to make up the difference with the leading teams.
For Mercedes, the 2022 season will be long and difficult.