The title fight is more heated than ever: Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes head to the summer break leading both the drivers' and the constructors' standings, with Max Verstappen, who had kept the championship lead after Silverstone's crash with Hamilton, scoring only two points in the Hungarian GP due to the extensive damage suffered from his first lap collision with Bottas.
Having such a tight fight between two of the most backed teams in F1, there's a lot of feelings involved, positive and negative, which led to the deplorable episode of the booing against Hamilton after he secured the pole position at the Hungaroring, that sparked from a grandstand where the majority of Verstappen's fans were seated.
Asked in the post-qualifying press conference if he thought that this year's rivalry was becoming more and more "tribal" than in the past, like football, Mercedes' Team Principal Toto Wolff reckoned that fans are guided by passion, which isn't an issue per se, whereas some ways to show this passion are: "I'd say that the booing is a somehow archaic instinct that shouldn't be part of the sport, but that also shows how passionate the fans are."
"Tribal instinct isn't necessarily something bad, I very much have that instinct for the team too. So, if they were tribal, they were passionate, they were applauding and screaming for the drivers, that would be great. I think that booing has no place in sports."
He added that what happened shortly before could be linked to the heightened emotions after the Silverstone crash, when Hamilton forced Verstappen off the track and into the barriers with a 51G impact that basically destroyed his chassis and power unit:
"I think it's a consequence of the events of the last few weeks, the incident was controversial and polarising. We see its consequences in terms of emotional expression of the grandstands."
F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali was involved in the defusing of the post-crash drama, as he had said that he would have wanted for the drivers involved to talk it out. Wolff only had kind words for Domenicali no how he dealt with the aftermaths of the collision:
"Stefano knows the business inside out, he knows the advantages for the entertainment that stem from such a rivalry, but equally he wants to keep it under control because nobody wants this to spill over more than it already has been and create negativity beyond what's acceptable."
"He's managed this very well until now, strikes the balance right, and all the discussions that he felt needed to take place [happened] for sure, but not in public, more behind closed doors"