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Wolff hits out at conspiracy theorists and lunatics


Mercedes boss Toto Wolff reveals that the police are now involved following claims that the German team was deliberately sabotaging Lewis Hamilton this season.

The Austrian was reacting to an email, purported to have been sent by a Mercedes team member, sent to paddock insiders and members of the media, alleging that the Brackley-based outfit has not only sabotaged the seven-time world champion but put his, and the public's, life in danger.

"Some of us in the team are unhappy about the systematic sabotaging of Lewis, his car, his tyre strategy, his race strategy and his mental health," reads the email which was made public by the Daily Mail.

Lewis is excluded and some underhanded (sic) things are going on that people need to be aware of," it continued.

"Ask the questions and the truth will out. It is all in the data and is recorded. With the exception of Bono and those of us who love Lewis, others are on a dangerous course that could ultimately be life-threatening to Lewis, other drivers, even the public. A cold tyre strategy is a death warrant."

While claims that teammate George Russell was given priority in terms of a new front wing introduced in Monaco, not helped by a somewhat cryptic comment from Hamilton himself, it was subsequently revealed that the seven-time champion was offered the wing but rejected it.

However it was events in Canada that appear to have really irked the conspiracy theorists. While Hamilton set the pace in final practice, come qualifying he could only manage seventh while his teammate claimed pole.

Prior to the email, social media had been awash with claims that Mercedes has been favouring Russell ahead of Hamilton's impending departure for Ferrari, as well as various insults aimed at the youngster himself.

On arriving in Spain, Hamilton was keen to play down the situation, telling reporters: "I think they know that we're... If you look at the years, we've always been a strong team. We've always worked really hard together.

"I think it's easy to get emotional," he continued. "But I think it's always... I even commented in the last race, for example, just about my performance. I think we need support, not negativity. I wasn't actually aware that George was experiencing negativity.

"George does nothing but his best every single weekend and he's developing with the team," he added. "So, he can't be faulted at all. Of course, there can always be things that are better within the team. And that comes through conversation, through communication.

"And that's something that we've been consistently working on. But we're all in the same boat. We're all working hard together. We all want to finish on a high and I feel we owe that to our long-term relationship."

"Personally I don't look on Instagram or Twitter, to be honest," said Russell. "I still sort of control my own accounts, so what my team and all of the content that goes out is through me, the captions, everything is all of my messaging.

"I think social media is a really double-edged sword," he admitted. "There's so many funny things that you see on social media and it keeps you up to date with so much. But then on the flip side it's not just myself, but everybody in the limelight, there seems to be negativity pointed towards them.

"Like Lewis said, you want to feel their support, and not giving out negativity to others. So, as I said, it's not something I've seen or heard about. Of course, it's never nice to hear this stuff, but that's unfortunately the world we live in at the moment. And what any person in the public eye is facing."

Asked about the email, Wolff was holding nothing back.

"It's not from a member of the team," he insisted. "When we are getting these kind of emails, and we're getting tons of them, it is upsetting, particularly when somebody is talking about death and all these things. So, on this particular one, I have instructed to go in full force.

"We have the police inquiring it," he revealed. "We are researching the IP address. We are researching the phone, all of that, because online abuse in that way needs to stop. People can't hide behind their phones or their computers and abuse teams or drivers in a way like this.

"I don't know what some of the conspiracy theorists and lunatics think out there," he continued. "Lewis was part of the team for 12 years. We have a friendship. We trust each other. We want to win this. We want to end this on a high. We want to celebrate the relationship. And if you don't believe all of that, then you can believe that we want to win the Constructors' World Championship. And part of the Constructors' World Championship is making both cars win. So to all of these mad people out there... take a shrink!"

Asked about his team's reaction to the email, and also the attacks on social media, the Austrian said: "I'm not reading any comments. I don't have social media. And I think it's important to protect oneself by doing so.

"I've commented about this many times before, there will always be people that have their laptop on the chest in their bedroom and just typing away. And if people feel like they're abusing, want to abuse and hit out and hide behind a made-up Instagram account or anything else, that for me is... Come up, say who you are, and we'll take the criticism and discuss, but don't hide.

"There seems to be lots of irrationality also, because we want to be successful. We want to be successful with the most iconic driver the sport has ever had. The privilege that we had to work with Lewis as an incredible driver, a great personality, that goes through the ups and downs like any other like any other sports person.

"I totally respect the reasons for him going to Ferrari. There is no grudge. There is no bad feeling. The interaction we have in the team is positive. And so every comment from the outside of what is going in the team is just simply wrong.

"But there's always a limit. I mean, if emails are being sent or telephone numbers are being used for these messages, then for me, the joking stops. And we will pursue it, whether that is successful or not. But there are limits to certain things. And obviously, online abuse is not only something that happens to us or to the team or to the people, it happens badly to Lewis, badly to Lewis, and to George.

"Therefore, people should, and we've seen Max speaking out about it and Kelly," he said, referring to recent online abuse of Verstappen's partner. "People that abuse are cowards, because they hide. So whatever is going on out there with social media, with all the good things that it provides, and all those people that have been given a platform, that's just the negatives that come with it. I have no feelings to someone that abuses for the reasons I just said before."

"Putting my relationship with Toto aside, how you could imagine that a company with 1,500 people working night and day, pushing like hell to bring upgrades, and for you it's not enough, but bringing upgrades each races, we could kill one of our cars or damage one of our cars?" added Ferrari boss, Fred Vasseur.

"This is completely irrational and nobody in the paddock could do something like this. We are fighting for the championship. Each weekend we are trying to score one point more than the other one. How you could imagine that we say 'OK, that Lewis, we don't want to score points anymore with him'. For me it's completely irrational and completely out of the scope of the person who are doing my business."

Of course, as Toto Wolff says, there are lots of conspiracy theorists and lunatics on social media - there always have been - but thankfully our sport was somewhat free of them, however as the teams and drivers - acting on the orders of F1 itself - interact with the sport's newly won over audience it was always going to be that there would be a negative to the newfound popularity.

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1. Posted by Spindoctor, 22/06/2024 8:40

"It's unlikely that the relationship between Hamilton & Mercedes is quite as warm as before his intended defection to Ferrari but "sabotage"?
Sad to see that in this Liberty-owned DTS version of Formula 1 the QANON-type conspiracists are starting to appear."

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2. Posted by Celtic Tiger, 22/06/2024 1:30

"I've read the email and its contents give it away that its clearly a lunatic 44 fan who is close to f1 circles and has access to pull this stunt.

I'm just curious as to what the endgame they envisioned was. Pitchforks and torches at the next strategy meeting? Molotovs tossed around Brackley? Or is it a vain hope that Russell's car will be sabotaged in favor of Hamilton?

Such ridiculousness. "

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3. Posted by Ricardo_sanchez, 21/06/2024 21:16

"Some of Hamilton’s recent comments in post-qualifying interviews have been ill-judged & have fuelled the conspiracy nonsense. It doesn’t excuse the lunacy, but drivers know the reaction they’ll get from some quarters so they need to think carefully before they let their emotions get the better of them. "

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