Mercedes Formula 1 chief Toto Wolff has hit back at suggestions on social media that the team deliberately sabotaged Lewis Hamilton’s car in Russia last weekend.
For the second race in a row, Hamilton was forced to start down the grid in Sochi after a recurrence of an issue on his power unit from the Chinese Grand Prix prevented him from taking part in Q3.
Hamilton fought from 10th at the start to finish the race second, but teammate Nico Rosberg was able to extend his championship lead to 43 points by taking his seventh straight grand prix victory.
Speaking to reporters after the race in Sochi, Wolff responded to claims from a small selection of fans online that Mercedes had deliberately sabotaged Hamilton’s car to favor Rosberg.
“First of all of course we don’t do it deliberately and the team has been abused on some of the social media and conspiracy theories are out there,” Wolff said.
“My response to this is I don’t even want to ignore this bunch of lunatics who would think that we would harm a driver, our driver who has been a double world champion for us.
“He hasn’t let us down and we wouldn’t let him down. This is a mechanical sport and these things happen.
“As a matter of fact we had a problem on Nico’s car which gave us some grey hair during the race, a problem on the MGU-K drive. It looked at a certain stage that he wouldn’t finish the race.
“We are pushing the limits on the chassis and the engine sides a lot in order to have a competitive car and this is why we are winning races, but also if you push the limits at a certain stage you find them.”