Hamilton, Wolff dismiss conspiracy theories

Hamilton admits he does not understand why the "majority" of the staff who helped him to two straight drivers' titles in 2014 and 2015 have been moved across to his team-mate, but he does not put it down to Mercedes' partiality.

LewisHamilton - cropped

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg on the podium at the 2016 Russian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton does not know why Mercedes switched a large portion of his team of engineers with team-mate Nico Rosberg's, but denied suggestions of favouritism.

Hamilton's car has been wrought with technical issues this season, with electrical problems that forced him to start from the back of the grid in China rearing their head again at Russia, leaving him 10th after qualifying. The defending world champion managed to work his way up to second position in Sochi, but he fell short of applying pressure on Rosberg who maintained his 100 per cent record this season.

Hamilton admits he does not understand why the "majority" of the staff who helped him to two straight drivers' titles in 2014 and 2015 have been moved across to his team-mate, but he does not put it down to Mercedes' partiality.

"All I can say is that my side of the garage are having a hard time. I have every confidence and faith in them," he told Sky Sports.

"It's unusual for them - the majority were on Nico's car last year and Nico's guys were with me for three years. We swapped for no apparent reason but that is not the reason we're having issues.

"Don't jump the gun. It's not happened in the last three years [favouritism] and I have no reason to think that's happening now."

A water-pressure issue stopped Hamilton hunting down Rosberg in the latter stages of the race, leaving him happy just to have finished. "It happened and I had to nurse it home. I'm just happy the car finished. It was another issue leading to a failure. I've got a long way to go with not a lot of engines."

Wolff said the comments by many on social media were misguided and wrong. "I want to ignore this bunch of lunatics who think we would want to harm a driver, who is our driver and who has been a double world champion for us," he said.

"He hasn't let us down and we wouldn't let him down. This is a mechanical sport and these things happen. We are pushing the limits on the chassis and on the engine side a lot in order to have a competitive car. This is why we are winning races, but also if you push the limits at a certain stage you find them.

"I think it's very difficult to take people seriously out there who are lying in their bed with a laptop on their chest and just sending out abusive messages."

Wolff told reporters in Sochi that he wanted to speak out to protect members of the team from accusations. "The reason why I'm being vocal about it is that I want to protect those guys because they're being hit by comments that are just inexcusable and unfair - abusive without any reason.

"We appreciate every rational and every true comment, we take criticism very seriously. If we screw up, it's about admitting that it wasn't the best we could've done.

"In the last couple of races we have made some mistakes and letting Lewis down with the engine is certainly one of them. We know that and feel that much more than anybody else."

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