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Mercedes have written an open letter to fans in response to allegations that the team favours Nico Rosberg over Lewis Hamilton.
While Rosberg has enjoyed a hugely successful start to the season with four consecutive victories, Hamilton has struggled with a number of mechanical issues to sit 43 points behind his team-mate in the championship.
Hamilton has suffered two engine failures during the opening four races, as well as a broken gearbox, while a water pressure problem meant he was unable to challenge Rosberg in Russia, prompting numerous conspiracy theories.
Responding to the claims, Mercedes wrote: "We have seen a lot of frustration aired online after the mechanical issues experienced in Sochi. We share those same emotions - but for us, it goes for beyond frustration. For those watching at home, a Grand Prix weekend starts on a Thursday morning and ends on Sunday night. A bad result might hurt for a few hours afterwards - but then life moves on. For more than one thousand people at Brackley and Brixworth, however, this is our life. These men and women pour their blood, sweat and tears into racing, day in, day our - often working around the clock and spending weeks at a time away from loved one. They do so through passion for their work, loyalty to their team-mates and a desire to be the best.
"What happened in Sochi showed the world just what a team working in unison is capable of. We were baffled and gutted by the repeat MGU-H failure on Lewis' car in qualifying. But we kept calm, gathered our thoughts and sprung into action. It took a monumental effort from a significant number of people back in the UK and in Russia to fly spare parts out to the track, fit them to the spare Power Unit by working through the night and making sure Lewis could start from P10 on Sunday without having broken parc ferme. This made Sunday all the more stressful for each of us. But, in the end, we were relieved just to get both cars to the flag.
"Shortly after his pit stop, we saw some alarming behaviour from Nico's MGU-K. We spent a number of laps reassuring him that he had a good gap over Lewis and could ease off before the FIA gave us the all-clear to tell him to switch to a setting that would control the issue."
The team went on to describe the issues Hamilton faced in Russia, adding: "Not long after Nico's issue arose, we started to see the water pressure falling on Lewis' car. At the time, he was pushing hard to catch Nico and pull away from Kimi - posting several purple lap times in the process. Again, we needed to await confirmation from the FIA of what we could tell him via the radio. After several calls asking him to take it easy, the all-clear came to let him know that he was losing water pressure. With zero - yes, zero! - water pressure remaining for the last 16 laps, the job he did to nurse the car home and still retain second place was truly remarkable. He had to keep the car as cool as possible to avoid damaging the engine whilst also keeping Kimi at a safe distance, which was no mean feat. We genuinely aren't sure by what miracle the car limped across the line - but we're certainly not going to complain.”