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Wolff slams critics of Hamilton after London no-show

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Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP smiles in the Paddock after qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain.

Image credit: Eurosport

16/07/2017 at 09:09 | Updated 16/07/2017 at 09:37

Criticism of Lewis Hamilton's decision to skip the London Formula 1 event is an "insult" to the three-time world champion, says Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff.

Hamilton was the only one of the 20 current F1 drivers who did not attend the F1 Live street demonstration in London last week.

Wolff said Mercedes fully supported Hamilton's decision to take a break ahead of the British GP instead.

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There were some rubbish stories out there that there was any relationship problem between Lewis and the team, and Lewis and myself. On the contrary, we had a chat at the beginning of the week [about] whether it was good or not good to go to the event.

Hamilton defends absence from F1 Live event

"After five years together the most important thing is that he feels at ease - because that is the reason he extracts performance from the race weekends.

Questioning whether a three-time world champion, who has just broken [Ayrton Senna]'s pole record and will beat [Michael] Schumacher's record, understands how he should prepare himself is an insult.

"This is how I operate the team: I give him freedom to organise his days in a way he wants.

And if he feels that staying away from an F1 environment, being with his friends, helps him to overcome what have been hard weekends and helps him to extract performance at Silverstone, then so be it.

"I was always perfectly fine with it."

Wolff said he had warned Hamilton that his absence from London might generate criticism.

"We flagged the risks that it could be seen as not right not to attend the event in London," he said.

"We had the car there, Valtteri [Bottas] was there, I was there, and I found it a great event.

"But within the team there was never an issue [over Hamilton]."

Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP poses for a photo with a fan after qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix.

Image credit: Eurosport

Wolff himself experienced some crowd hostility when he appeared on stage in Trafalgar Square with fellow team bosses Christian Horner and Maurizio Arrivabene and tried to explain Hamilton's absence.

"The one that mentioned that 19 drivers were there and not all was Christian," said Wolff.

"Christian is always trying to put a little bit of mischief into the situation, and fair enough.

"There were three boos out of 10,000 people who were in front of me, and no more. I was there, and I saw it.

"I would not be happy if I go there and the guy I was trying to see was not there.

Mercedes F1 driver Lewis Hamilton takes a 'selfie' with Toto Wolff

Image credit: Reuters

"But he took a decision for his championship.

"The way he has been treated in certain media is wrong and not fair."

Wolff was adamant Hamilton's popularity in Britain had not been damaged by any negative reaction.

"I don't see there is a big backlash," said Wolff.

"I am hidden in the back of the garage and I can hear the crowds and the grandstand applauding and screaming when he sets a purple sector time.

"We need to be careful that we are not making something bigger than it is."

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