Mercedes refused to be drawn into a blame game after a dreadful start by Lewis Hamilton at the Italian Grand Prix scuppered his chance of a 50th career win and blew the world championship wide open.
Nico Rosberg moved to just two points behind Hamilton after he took advantage of his title rival’s slow getaway to claim his second victory in eight days.
Pole-sitter Hamilton, 31, was bidding to become the first driver since the great Juan Manuel Fangio in the 1950s to claim a hat-trick of victories at the so-called Temple of Speed.
But a poor opening to the race, after similar cost the world champion probable victories at the opening two rounds in Australia and Bahrain, was to prove damaging on Sunday.
Hamilton, who recovered to finish second, informed his team that he was at fault for his slow start, but following the race he insisted it was not his error.
“We are never blaming anybody,” said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. “I will never permit anybody to be blamed. Not the driver. Not the engineer. Nobody. Because if you start to blame people this is when it starts going downhill because people will try to protect their a*** and make sure they have a conservative system in place rather that putting the best developments on the car.
“In this particular case, it is a combination of things so that is why I don’t want to go there.
“A driver in the heat of the moment, after losing a race to a team-mate, will say things. Once we have seen the data we will address it internally and what needs to be done in order for that to be avoided.
“But this is not a game of vice-versa blaming, because you win and lose together, and in that case, Lewis and the team has lost, and we need to address it.”
While Hamilton was forced to negotiate his way back through the pack after slipping to sixth, Rosberg was afforded a straightforward run to victory.
Suddenly the momentum which had slowly been slipping away from German after he won the opening four races of the year is falling back in his favour.
But despite the setback, Hamilton, who at one stage this season was 43 points behind Rosberg, remained upbeat on his prospects of keeping his sole title challenger at bay in the remaining seven rounds.
“It is definitely not like Christmas Day where you are super happy,” said Hamilton. “We had been smashing the weekend and then less than a tenth of a second decides the race. That is tough for everyone.
“But when you think of where we have come from, it is not so bad as we are still leading the world championship.
“We have had so many things go against us on our side of the garage, so to come back and be where we are, there are still lots of great things that can happen going forward.” (PA)