Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has played down Bernie Ecclestone's jibe at Lewis Hamilton calling him “fed up” with Formula 1 by labelling the comments another “hand grenade”.

At the Baku City Circuit paddock on Friday, ex-F1 supremo Ecclestone said Hamilton is “not the racer he was” and he was getting tired of the F1 world.

Wolff has shot down any suggestions against Hamilton and feels it is Ecclestone’s usual tactics to stoke up the media headlines in the sport. The Mercedes boss has also repeated that he has full faith in his driver’s hunger and desire to win a fifth world title.

“It’s Bernie! I just had a game of backgammon against him and I lost,” Wolff said. “He comes in and throws a hand grenade and it’s in the papers. It’s great!

“How the news runs these days we oscillate between exuberance and depression and back again. When things are not going in the right direction it’s doom day and when you win two races in a row it is the utter Mercedes dominance destroying the sport.

“I still see the fire and desire to win very much burning in him. This is Lewis, not Bernie! But also Bernie.

“Lewis is a remarkably easy with these kind of things. I think all of us very much respect Bernie but we have also learned to take the comments with a smile. And it’s the same way he does it.”

Wolff has also conceded Ferrari has reached the same performance level as Mercedes at the start of the 2018 F1 season after seeing Sebastian Vettel claim his third consecutive pole position of the season ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix with Mercedes pair Hamilton qualifying in second place and teammate Valtteri Bottas slotting into third on the grid.

"I’m pleased with how we have progressed from yesterday to today," he said. "We were nowhere yesterday and we tried the right things on the car and put the car in a more decent place.

"It’s still not enough for the pace of the Ferrari today, but starting P2 and P3 is a good place for Sunday."