Niki Lauda has called speculation of sabotage at Mercedes as the reason behind Lewis Hamilton's string of engine problems in 2016 'ridiculously stupid' and will hold talks with the defending F1 champion to calm tensions before the Japanese Grand Prix.
While leading the Malaysian Grand Prix Hamilton's Mercedes dramatically blew up with sudden engine failure which the team is now thoroughly investigating ahead of the Suzuka race.
With just his second DNF of the season Hamilton has slipped to 23 points behind team-mate Nico Rosberg, when he had initially been on course to reclaim the championship lead at Sepang, and was dumbfounded by the turn of events.
Searching for answers for his latest engine problem – having suffered a series of issues this season which forced him to take grid penalties for extra power unit components at Spa – Hamilton was left frustrated and confused why he has been the only Mercedes-powered driver on the grid to continually be hit by mechanical woes.
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Sparking rumours of potential sabotage against the defending F1 world champion, Mercedes chairman Lauda has dismissed the speculation and confirmed he personally apologised to Hamilton on behalf of the team.
“I know Lewis very well and he will not have accused the team,” Lauda said. “This interpretation I cannot accept because Lewis knows we do everything possible to give him the best engine.
“I feel very sorry because my job is engine and team so I am responsible and I am very sorry to him. This was a young engine, not an old one, so we do not know the cause. If we do not know the cause nobody can say it was sabotage, this is ridiculous.
“We worked for him and Nico in a perfect way. He [Hamilton] has won two championships so far with us and finished the most races ever, so what do you think? We suddenly start to sabotage? This would be ridiculously stupid.”
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Lauda says he invited Hamilton to travel to Japan on his private jet so the pair could hold discussions on the current issue and has assured there will be 'no more worries' before the race at Suzuka.
Mercedes is currently investigating the cause of Hamilton's engine breakdown after it had only been installed ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix and had a relatively low mileage before the blow up.
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