World champion Lewis Hamilton accused Mercedes of scuppering his title defence after an engine failure denied him victory at the Malaysian Grand Prix and boosted team-mate and rival Nico Rosberg’s bid for the crown.
Pole-sitter Hamilton looked to be on course for a first win in four races and a return to the top of the standings in Sepang when the Briton’s engine burst into flames with just 13 laps remaining.
The incident allowed Daniel Ricciardo to pip Max Verstappen in a Red Bull one-two, while Rosberg finished third to extend his championship lead over Hamilton to 23 points with five grand prix left.
“Someone doesn’t want me to win this year,” said Hamilton, who has suffered engine problems at three races this season.
“My question is to Mercedes. We have so many engines made for drivers, but mine are the only ones failing this year. Someone needs to give me some answers because this is not acceptable.”
Hamilton later adopted a more conciliatory tone, implying that his initial outburst had been hasty and insisting he still had faith in the team’s mechanics.
“Mercedes have built 43 engines and I have happened to have most, if not all, of the failures,” he added, “That is definitely a tough thing, but I have 100 per cent confidence in these guys.”
Rosberg recovered from being hit by the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, who incurred a three-place grid penalty for this week’s Japanese Grand Prix, and then a 10-second punishment of his own for colliding with Kimi Raikkonen as he passed the Finn on lap 38.