OCTOBER 3, 2016
Wolff excuses Hamilton over sabotage claims
Toto Wolff has excused Lewis Hamilton for triggering a conspiracy theory storm after the Malaysian grand prix.
The Briton's push to reclaim the world championship lead on Sunday actually turned into a 23-point deficit to Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, as his engine failed.
Hamilton could not believe it.
"My question is to Mercedes," he told television reporters. "We have so many engines - there are eight Mercedes cars - but mine are the only ones failing. Someone needs to give me answers.
"Something just doesn't feel right. Someone doesn't want me to win this year," said Hamilton.
Hamilton's comments triggered a firestorm of conspiracy theories, but team chairman Niki Lauda said any claim Mercedes wants the 31-year-old to lose is "ridiculous".
"Hamilton cannot say there is sabotage," the F1 legend is quoted by El Mundo Deportivo.
"I cannot accept that, because we do everything possible to give him the best car and the best engine."
Lauda said he will speak to Hamilton directly.
"We will spend six hours together on my plane to Japan and by the time we get there, there will be no worries," he insisted.
In the wake of Hamilton's TV outbursts, Mercedes cancelled the driver's usual written media engagements but he later cooled down and backtracked.
"When you get out of the car - that feeling you have after leading the race and then your car fails - it's pretty hard to say positive things at the time," he said.
"But I have 100pc confidence in these guys."
Clarifying his remark that 'someone' wants him to lose the title, Hamilton suggested he was referring to God.
"It feels a little bit like the man above, or a higher power, is intervening a little bit," he said. "If at the end of the year the higher powers don't want me to be champion after everything I've given towards it, I will have to accept that."
And team boss Toto Wolff said Hamilton could be excused for the outbursts anyway.
"After this bitter outcome, when you're leading the race, about to get back in the championship lead and your engine blows up, then a statement in front of a TV camera is allowed," he told the German newspaper Bild.
"He was incredibly disappointed, and everyone expresses disappointment differently.
"Once Lewis calms down, he will appreciate that it (sabotage) is not true. It's just a crazy coincidence why the majority of the engine problems this year have been had by him," Wolff added.