Lewis Hamilton will 'not bail out any more' says Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Hamilton and Verstappen collide
Audio and text commentary of the Russian Grand Prix is live on the BBC Sport website

Lewis Hamilton has decided not to back out of on-track battles when he believes he has a right to the corner, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff says.

Wolff said it followed discussions over the aggressive approach to racing of title rival Max Verstappen of Red Bull.

"The change in approach is that Lewis pretty much decided not to bail out any more when he thinks the corner is his," Wolff said.

"Now it needs two to understand when a collision can be avoided."

The pair have had a series of incidents and near-misses during their championship fight this season.

Hamilton has three times backed out of close racing situations - on the first laps of the Emilia Romagna, Spanish and Italian Grands Prix - while Verstappen fought out every contested corner.

This worked for him in securing the lead at Imola and Barcelona early in the season but the pair crashed together at the British and Italian races when Hamilton also decided not to yield.

At Silverstone, Hamilton went on to win the race, despite a 10-second penalty for the incident, while at Monza both retired and Verstappen was penalised with a three-place grid penalty for this weekend's Russian Grand Prix.

Red Bull's Christian Horner said he and Verstappen discuss all on-track incidents but that he did not expect the Dutchman to change his approach.

"We always review any incident and look at it very carefully and you always think: 'Could I have done anything different? Could I have done anything better?'" Horner said.

"Max is always very open to that. He is extremely self-critical. You're always learning.

"But he's a hard racer. It is part of his character - it is part of why he has the following he does.

"You know he is going to give 110% and that has an impact on the driver he is racing, because they just know he is going to go for it.

"But of course there has to be measure, and at the right times he has shown that measure even in different races this year, but it is part of the character that he is, that he is an attacking driver.

"It's part of his make-up and I don't think it's going to change."

Both men admitted there were likely to be more incidents between the two drivers over the remaining races this year.

Wolff said: "They pretty much know what they do. If both wanted to avoid collisions, we would have less. If they both feel it is right not to bail out, then we will see more."

Horner said: "We want it to be a really competitive, clean run-in to the end of the season but when they are starting next to each other, Max is a no-quarter kind of guy and Lewis has demonstrated he doesn't want to give anything either."

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