Wolff dismisses ‘conspiracy’ speculation

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff insists that there is no substance whatsoever to talks of a ‘conspiracy’ within the team aimed at hampering Lewis Hamilton’s 2016 title campaign.

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“This is a mechanical sport and it’s a very unfortunate coincidence that things happened like this,” Wolff insisted. “For me, it’s like six times red in roulette at the casino.

“It’s been really bad for him and for the team, I have no words and I am gutted in the same way.

“These things happen,” Wolff added. “I don’t think it will put any shadow on the championship, of course Nico is going to say he was the luckier driver this year in terms of mechanical reliability, but then he had some great drives like in Singapore.”

Immediately after his retirement from the Malaysian Grand Prix, Hamilton had suggested that “something doesn’t feel right” about the number of engine issues he’s suffered this year and that someone didn’t want him to win the title, but he later clarified his remarks and said he was referring to “a higher power” and not to anyone at Mercedes.

“Every remark, every answer is allowed after such a frustrating moment,” said Wolff when asked about Hamilton’s comments and whether they would cause problems within the team.

“If you were in the lead of that race and you were just about to get back in that championship and your engine blows up and someone puts a microphone in front of your face, he is allowed to say whatever he wants.

“This is the emotion and completely understandable. Each of us would express his frustration in different ways.

“It’s a freaky situation that has no rational explanation and I think after recovering a bit he will just see that, but in the heat of the moment that’s no problem.”

And Wolff denied speculation that Hamilton was forced to overwork his engine in order to ward off the threat from Red Bull at Sepang.

“He just built the gaps, and then we gave him the guidance to go flat out to make the gap, but he didn’t change any engine modes.

“Afterwards we had a discussion in a small group and we were all really down from the incident. Then we regrouped everybody, all the mechanics and all the engineers, and we had a chat to bring everybody up. He said some great things about the team and hopefully that is going to help us recover from Japan.

“This team in the past has come out much stronger from these lows, like in Singapore for example, and it was because we are sticking together,” he added, emphasising that the team needed to maintain unity.

Mercedes’ non-executive chairman Niki Lauda also said that there was absolutely no conspiracy aimed at denying Hamilton a fourth title.

“I can convince him and say certainly we do nothing against him. We are people working for him, we are proud of him,” Lauda said after the race. “We did everything possible to make him finish all the races.”

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