Toto Wolff has revealed a simple failure with a stopwatch was the reason behind Nico Rosberg's exaggerated stop-go penalty during the German Grand Prix.

Rosberg was handed a controversial five second time penalty for forcing Max Verstappen off the track at the hairpin in the fight for second place, which he would be made to serve during his third and final stop.

RESULTS: German Grand Prix - Race results

However, a failure of the stopwatch being used to count the five seconds would prompt Mercedes to play it safe and leave Rosberg stationary for longer. As a result, Rosberg was still for eight seconds before the pit crew changed his tyres.

Compounding a dismal day for Rosberg and contributing to his eventual fourth place finish, Wolff admits it is sobering to be hindered by something so simple in a sport as technological as F1.

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"Even in a Formula One team with all the high-tech, if you get to take out the instruments that you usually don't use like a stop watch, they can fail and the stop watch didn't start properly and once we realised we had to take it safe and this is why it took longer than normal."

"The time thing failed. It didn't function like it should have," he continued. "We could have also counted, one thousand and one, one thousand and two, one thousand and three but we relied on the stopwatch and it let us down."

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The Mercedes boss went on to speculate whether Rosberg had a set up issue after the German reported he lost grip when pushing on.

"It seems that we had not really good set up overall and he was lacking grip when he was trying to go faster, when he was trying to attack, he probably overheated the tyres in that case."

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A German team known for it's precision and superb processes could not count 5 seconds properly and timed it using a stopwatch that made Nico lose a fighting chance to be 3rd. "Stopwatch failure"? BS