Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff insists talk of a rift between himself and Lewis Hamilton is wide of the mark.
Hamilton opted against taking part in a Formula One event in London's Trafalgar Square this week, with reports claiming Wolff's attendance at Sebastian Vettel's 30th birthday party was a factor in the British driver's decision.
The Briton and Ferrari rival Vettel are locked in a fierce battle for the drivers' championship and the bash is said to have taken place after the German controversially swerved into Hamilton in frustration at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
But Wolff says there is no truth in the stories and believes Hamilton has been treated unfairly by the British media in the build-up to his home race at Silverstone on Sunday.
"The way he has been treated by certain media is wrong and not fair," Wolff told reporters.
"Before his home race at Silverstone and after rough weekends in Baku and Austria, to treat the local superstar in that way is absolutely against how l see things.
"Questioning whether a three-time world champion, who has just broken [Ayrton Senna's] all-time pole record, and who is going to beat [Michael] Schumacher's record, understands how to prepare himself is an insult."
Addressing the rift reports directly, Wolff commented: "The dynamics are great. There were rubbish stories that there were some relationship problems between Lewis and the team and Lewis and myself.
"I give him freedom to organise his days in the way he wants. If he feels being away from the Formula One environment, being with his friends, helps him extract performance, then so be it
"I am perfectly fine with it and l was always perfectly fine with it. We flagged the risk that it could be seen as not right not to attend the events. But in the team there was never an issue and between us there was never an issue."
Wolff also expressed optimism that Hamilton, who will start on pole for Sunday's race after a stunning qualifying performance, will extend his Mercedes contract, which runs until the end of next season.
"Lewis is very much linked to Mercedes, and we love him as a driver, and I think the same for us is valid for him. We are going to try to find an agreement for the future," he told Sky Sports News.
21 de noviembre 2017
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