Belfast Telegraph

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Hamilton confident Mercedes can get him right back on track

By Philip Duncan

Mercedes have opened an investigation into the blunders which are destabilising Lewis Hamilton's championship challenge.

Toto Wolff, the Mercedes boss, headed directly from their latest capitulation in Austria to the team's Northamptonshire headquarters yesterday to lead the inquest.

Hamilton was knocked off the title summit by Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel following the Briton's retirement from Sunday's race.

The defending champion has been given three days off by Mercedes ahead of this week's British Grand Prix at Silverstone, but he has asked to be kept abreast of any developments after urging his team to issue a "bulletproof" response to their failings this season.

"I have every confidence in my team that we will be able to bounce back," Hamilton said.

"We will work on it and we will try to re-evaluate and come back stronger."

Hamilton will head into his home race one point behind Vettel after another strategic mistake denied him a certain victory at the Red Bull Ring before he retired with a loss of power.

Mercedes have enjoyed a remarkable run of success over the past four years, but their decision-making is now in the spotlight after they fell behind in both the drivers' and constructors' championships on Sunday.

"Motor racing can be very cruel," Wolff said. "We had all the cruelty go against us in Austria, and it got us brutally.

"But we have to get everyone together. We have got to analyse what went wrong, try not to do it again, understand how we can best avoid it happening again, and get our mind back to Silverstone and race as well as we can there.

"We will pick ourselves up and go to Silverstone with our heads held high. It is a home race."

Wolff also moved to downplay fears that the retirements of Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas on Sunday - Mercedes' first double mechanical DNF of the modern era - are linked to the team's upgraded engine.

Hamilton, the four-time champion, has not been at his dominating best yet, but poor strategy calls by Mercedes have cost him victories in Australia and Austria, while their overly-cautious approach to a late safety car period in China was a factor in him dropping points there too.

The Englishman, however, will be heartened by his record at Silverstone, having won in front of his home fans for the past four years. He will also be boosted by an expected near sell-out crowd of 140,000 spectators on Sunday.

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