Wolff: Hamilton engine failures not linked

03/10/2016
NEWS STORY

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits team cannot find a link between Lewis Hamilton's engine failures.

Following his magnificent effort in qualifying on Saturday, Lewis Hamilton looked all set to convert it to a win on Sunday, and at the same time close the gap to championship leader, and teammate, Nico Rosberg.

Then, without any warning, on Lap 40, smoke and flames poured from the rear of the Briton's car; "No... no... he moaned in pained frustration"

Speaking in the moments after his retirement, as his teammate, who had dropped to the back of the field after being hit by Sebastian Vettel at the start, cruised to a podium finish and another 15 points, Hamilton appeared to point the finger at his team.

However, the 'someone high up' he was referring to when he talked of things going against him, wasn't a Mercedes plot rather a reference to God's will.

Nonetheless the Briton had kicked off a media frenzy, and in no time at all Hamilton was trending on Twitter as fans aired their frustration, anger and suspicions.

While Hamilton subsequently reaffirmed his total faith in Mercedes, the German team began a forensic analysis, keen to placate the driver, the media and fans that foul play is not an issue.

Earlier this year, as the Briton suffered a string of MGU-H issues, Wolff took the unusual step of issuing an open letter to fans assuring them that there was no conspiracy. However their frustration was compounded when in Belgium Hamilton had to take a string of grid penalties in order to replace the engine components which had let him down in the first place.

Keen to play down any thought of a conspiracy, Wolff has said the various failures are not linked, that there is no identifiable pattern to them.

"It's interesting, as most of the failures were not linked to each other," he said, according to Motorsport.com. "They were different failures, and it was failures that were either in the supply chain, or they were material problems, or assembly problems or just a mistake in the design or fatigue, below the mileage where it should have been. There's no pattern in those failures that we can identify.

While some have said that the common link is the driver himself and that Hamilton might simply be pushing too hard, Wolff admitted that at the time of the failure the Briton was indeed 'giving it laldy', as some might say.

"He was flat out, we needed to build the 23-second gap to allow a free pitstop," said the Austrian. "Red Bull did everything right, pitting Verstappen when they did. They had two cars to play the gamble with the virtual safety car period, and then there was the risk at the end that they would leave one out on the hard to try to make the one-stop, which would've been extremely difficult.

"They still could have tried it with one of the two, and pit the other one. So we were trying to extend our stint and it was going in the right direction because we were building that gap. But just before it was enough, just before we were about to pit him, the engine blew up.

"It is a mechanical sport, and these things happen," he concluded. "I remember in 2014 when Nico had the failure at the start of the last race, and it's frustrating that it comes at the crucial moment in the championship and we are letting him down this year. It's him this year.

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Published: 03/10/2016
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