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Lewis Hamilton rejects accusations of bias against him at Mercedes
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Lewis Hamilton rejects accusations of bias against him at Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton has denied there is any bias against him at Mercedes and defended his teammate George Russell after an anonymous email accusing the team of sabotaging Hamilton’s chances was sent to F1, the teams and the media last week.

Hamilton, who also used his press conference in Spain to call for ticket prices at the British Grand Prix in a few weeks to be reduced, will leave Mercedes to join Ferrari next season and has been struggling this season in an underperforming Mercedes. He has been outqualified by Russell in eight of the nine races thus far and recently there has been a swathe of accusations on social media claiming the team was attempting to wreck Hamilton’s efforts.

Last week an email was sent to figures across the paddock, claiming: “Some of us in the team are unhappy about the systematic sabotaging of Lewis, his car, his tyre strategy, his race strategy, his mental health.” The team in this case almost certainly meaning “Team Lewis”, as some fans refer to themselves, rather than anyone at Mercedes, with the structure and tone apparently the work of another disgruntled fan. The email also warned of a “dangerous course that could ultimately be life threatening to Lewis”.

Speaking before this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, Hamilton said he had not seen the email but summarily dismissed the accusations and those on social media. “There are always things that can be better within a team and that comes through conversations, through communication, and that’s what we’re consistently working on,” he said. “But we’re all in the same boat, we’re all working hard together and we all want to finish on a high. We owe that to our long-term relationship.”

Russell, who took pole at the last round in Canada and finished in third, with Hamilton in fourth, has also been the subject of repeated abuse from the seven-time champion’s fans on social media, which Hamilton also condemned.

“We’ve always been a strong team, we’ve always worked really hard together. I think it is easy to get emotional,” he said. “I think we need support, not negativity. I wasn’t actually aware that George was experiencing any negativity. George has done nothing but his best every single weekend and delivering for the team, so he can’t be faulted at all.”

George RussellView image in fullscreen

The McLaren driver Lando Norris dismissed the accusations as the “most stupid thing ever” and asked: “Why would they [Mercedes] want to take points away?” Hamilton will, as a matter of course, not be privy to work Mercedes are undertaking on next year’s car given he is set to join Ferrari. This is standard operating procedure in F1 and a world away from consciously acting to his detriment over a race weekend.

With the British GP at Silverstone just two weeks away Hamilton also expressed his concern that ticket prices for the event had risen too high for many fans.

“It’s an incredible event, so many fans come and have a great weekend,” he said. “The only thing I would ever say is that we have to watch ticket prices. They’re continuing to rise and the cost of living nowadays, it’s too high.

“I’m just thinking from the perspective of a fan that would come with a family. It’s hugely expensive, so I think it’s looking into ways where you can make better accessibility for people.”

The meeting, which hosted an F1 record of 480,000 people across four days last year, has not yet sold out although the chief executive, Stuart Pringle, has said he is confident it will do so before the race weekend on 6-7 July. Numbers are expected to be down from last year, as the organisers have reduced capacity in an attempt to improve the experience.

They have also overhauled the ticket sales system to offer a more gradual sales process with early orders rewarded with lower prices. However there has been criticism of pricing, especially on social media. Current four day grandstand tickets still on sale are around the £600 mark. Pringle has also noted that the race organisers have heavily reinvested in the circuit after years of barely breaking even and that their efforts were recognised when F1 awarded the track a new 10-year contract in February.

Source: theguardian.com