Wolff defends under-fire Hamilton

Wolff defends under-fire Hamilton

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff does not believe Lewis Hamilton's falling out with the media affected his performance in Japan.

The reigning world champion lost further ground on team-mate Nico Rosberg in the Drivers' Championship fight as he finished in third on Sunday, Rosberg taking the chequered flag for the fourth time in five races to extend his lead at the top of the standings to 33 points.

Hamilton's failure to close the gap on the German compounded what was a difficult weekend for him at Suzuka, the 31-year-old having upset members of the media with his antics in Thursday's press conference.

Hamilton spent much of his time in front of the press on his mobile phone, leading to criticism from some journalists.

Hamilton responded by stating he would limit the amount of press conferences he attended due to a perceived lack of respect, failing to appear at the post-qualifying briefing.

Wolff does not think the controversial build-up to Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix distracted the three-time world champion though, despite the Mercedes driver making another poor start which ruined his race.

"I've seen a Lewis in Malaysia that was really on a roll, dominating the weekend and then obviously we let him down with the engine failure," said Wolff. "That was an easy one [win] for him to bring home.

"During the week he was okay and then all these things around the press conferences… whether that affects him or not, I don't think so because it is just not his priority I guess.

"I wouldn't bring it down to that that the start didn't go well because the racing was great afterwards. How he recovered was really exceptional."

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