Toto Wolff has labelled the people suggesting Mercedes is intentionally sabotaging Lewis Hamilton's car "lunatics".
After encountering a problem on the MGU-H in qualifying, a water pressure problem derailed Hamilton's charge during the Russian Grand Prix as he cut the gap to teammate Nico Rosberg down to seven seconds. Although the problem stabilised before the end of the race it ended any real chance of Hamilton challenging Rosberg for victory in the closing stages.
The result was another one-two for Mercedes but Hamilton's multiple engine issues, which included an identical MGU-H issue in China, had some on social media questioning whether the team was favouring Rosberg. Niki Lauda called the accusations "bulls---" and Wolff cannot understand why people would send such messages to a team.
"I think it's very difficult to take people seriously out there who are lying in their bed with their laptop on their chest and sending out those abusive messages out," Wolff said. "We are not taking that serious. You wonder what goes through people's minds. Lewis has won two championships with that team in the past and we are always trying to give him the best possible go in any race. You just question yourself what's going on in some people's heads?
"First of all, 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. 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."
Wolff thinks the messages are disrespectful to those who work on both sides of the Mercedes garage.
"Yes and you know the reason why I'm being vocal about it is that I want to protect those guys. They are being hit by comments that are just inexcusable and unfair, abusive without any reason. If some of the guys read some of those comments they might take it personally and this is why I want to be very clear. We appreciate every rational and true comment and we take criticism very serious.
"We have a core group of fans who are behind us and sometimes if we screw up we have to admit that isn't the best we could have done and in the last couple of races we have done some mistakes and letting Lewis down with the engine is certainly one of them. We know that and we feel that much more than anyone else. But I think some of the guys take it pretty hard."