Lewis Hamilton was left incensed with Mercedes following the team’s decision to leave him out on medium tyres during a late Safety Car while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and teammate George Russell both pitted for softs.
The seven-time world champion was left vulnerable to attacks from Verstappen, Russell and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and had to settle with fourth.
“I can’t believe you guys “f****** screwed me, I can’t tell you how pissed I am,” Hamilton fumed over the radio.
Wolff explained Mercedes’ thinking following Sunday’s race at Zandvoort.
“So the thinking that we had was that we had a medium that had five racing laps on plus track position, and we took that decision,” Wolff said.
“I don’t think that on a par with the same tyre we could have overtaken the Red Bull with the straight line speed. We’ve seen that with Sainz that we aren’t really able to pass him at the beginning, so that was the call.
“Every single day of my life I would rather risk everything for winning the race rather than cementing in second and third.”
At the time the Safety Car was deployed, Hamilton was leading from Russell – with both Mercedes on mediums – and Verstappen, who was on softs.
Wolff was questioned as to why Mercedes chose to pit Russell and effectively remove a blocker to Verstappen for Hamilton.
“We just split the strategy,” Wolff explained. “If we would have left both out on the same tyre we would have had the blocker and the two cars in the front.
“But if the new tyre was really much faster then both the cars may have been eaten up, also maybe by Leclerc, and everyone else who came behind.
“So we split the strategy, kept track position and maybe the car is fast enough to do this rather than to take any other decision.”
Wolff: Hamilton ‘right’ to be angry
After the race, Hamilton apologised to Mercedes for his expletive-filled radio outburst, saying he was “just on the edge of breaking point with emotions”.
Wolff said he had no issue with Hamilton venting his frustration at the team, particularly given how difficult this season has been for Mercedes.
“You get emotional,” he said. “I do too in the race and when you are the driver in the car, it just comes out of you and you can’t even stop it.
“We are the trash bin, the sick bag in the airplane and we are taking all of that because we need to. That is how it has always been in a relationship between frustrated driver and the pit wall.
“So we have sat together, we discussed the race strategy and I think this morning we decided to take a risk, it really backfired for him but I think overall, the circumstances and having Max behind him, that was totally unpleasant but there are more positives to take and this is what we have also chatted about; the car is fast here.”
Asked if Hamilton was right to be angry, Wolff replied: “I think it’s right.
“The pit wall and the strategist try to calculate probabilities and come up with best possible decision, and it’s more for the pit wall and us to say we think this is what is happening and what we should do.
“But it all came so quickly, so also for us it was so tremendously difficult to make the right judgement call and especially if you have two drivers competing against each other.
“We had it for ten years, one is going to be upset and the other is going to be happy and that’s these swings we need to balance out and just acknowledge that the frustration on one side is always big.”