Toto Wolff has branded conspiracy theorists as "lunatics" after Lewis Hamilton was hit by more reliability worries during the Russian Grand Prix.
Hamilton was unable to run in the final part of qualifying on Saturday as a result of a repeat of the MGU-H issue which had hampered him in China, leaving him 10th on the grid. Mercedes worked overnight and flew out identical replacement parts in order to carry out a power unit change on Sunday morning which would not break parc ferme regulations and avoid a penalty.
In the race, Hamilton had climbed to second place and was catching team-mate Nico Rosberg when a loss of water pressure forced him to back off and bring the car home in second, with Wolff angered by any suggestions of the team not backing the defending champion.
"Of course we don’t do it deliberately and the team has been abused in some of the social media and conspiracy theories are out there," Wolff said. "My response to this is I don’t want to even ignore these lunatics who 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 we wouldn’t let 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 like at a certain stage he wouldn’t finish the race.
"So we are pushing the limits on the chassis and on the engine side 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 mess up."