Mercedes call police to investigate anonymous ‘sabotage’ email

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BARCELONA, Spain — Mercedes have called upon police to investigate the source of an anonymous email accusing the F1 team of trying to deliberately sabotage Lewis Hamilton’s car.

The email, sent to the same list of F1 representatives that received a leak of messages purportedly linked to the Christian Horner sexual misconduct investigation earlier this year, was sent out last week.

The message claimed to be from an existing team member and alleged that Mercedes have intentionally put Hamilton, who is due to join Ferrari next year, in harm’s way at recent events.

It alleged that a “systemic sabotaging” of Hamilton’s car, strategy and mental health has put the team on a “dangerous path” that could be “life threatening to Lewis.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said the team is treating the message very seriously.

“It is not from a member of the team; when we are getting these kinds of emails, and we are getting tons of them, it is upsetting, particularly when someone is talking about death and all these things,” Wolff said on Friday.

“On this particular one, I have instructed to go full force with police inquiring it, researching the IP address, researching the phone number, because online abuse in that way needs to stop. People can’t hide behind their phones, or their computers, and abuse teams or drivers in a way like this.

“I don’t know what some of the conspiracy theorists, lunatics, think out there. Lewis was part of the team for 12 years; we have a friendship, we trust each other, we want to win … and end this on a high and celebrate the relationship.

“And if you don’t believe all of that, then you can believe we want to win the constructors world championship, and that is by making both cars win. To all of these mad people out there, [see] a shrink.”

Hamilton said he had not seen the email when asked about it on Thursday during media day.

On a wider question about fans on social media alleging foul play, he said: “They know that, if you look at the years, we’ve always been a strong team, we’ve always worked really hard together. I think it is easy to get emotional. I think we need support, not negativity.

“Of course 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. 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.”

Wolff said there are no hard feelings about Hamilton’s upcoming move.

“There seems to be lots of irrationality also because we want to be successful with the most iconic driver the sport has ever had, the privilege that we had to work with Lewis as an incredible driver, a great personality that goes through the ups and downs like any other sportsperson,” Wolff said.

“I totally respect the reason for him going to Ferrari, there is no grudge, no bad feeling, the interaction in the team is positive, so every comment from the outside on what is going on in the team is simply wrong.”

Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur, the man who helped lure Hamilton to the team next year, said any suggestion of a team intentionally sabotaging any driver should be treated with disdain.

“How you could imagine a company with 1500 people, working night and day, pushing like hell to bring upgrades that we could kill one of our cars, or damage one of our cars? This is completely irrational, and nobody in the paddock could do something like this.

“We are fighting for the championship; each weekend we are trying to score one point more than the other one. How could you imagine that anyone would say ‘OK, Lewis, we don’t want to score points anymore with him’? This for me is completely irrational and completely out of the scope of the people who are doing my business.”

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