Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff says Lewis Hamilton has every right to be skeptical about potential preferential treatment – but insists both he and George Russell are handled equally.

Hamilton raised some eyebrows at the Monaco Grand Prix when he suggested he would be unable to ever outqualify Russell again this season – and was at pains to point out his team-mate had had exclusive use of a new front wing for Monte Carlo.

Although it subsequently emerged that Hamilton had turned down the opportunity to run the wing because he did not want to risk a pitlane start if it was damaged in qualifying, the seven-time champion's comments about Russell holding the advantage hinted at some concern about things not being totally even between them.

That is a suggestion that Wolff says is not based on reality. He claims that the only time throughout Mercedes’ modern era in F1 when it has stepped in to influence a battle between team-mates was at the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

This was when Hamilton tried to back Nico Rosberg into the pack during their title showdown, and was repeatedly urged from the pitwall to pick up his pace.

Asked if Hamilton’s comments about Russell were a sign that there was some paranoia that he was not getting equal treatment because he was leaving at the end of the year, Wolff said: “Aren't all drivers a bit skeptical at times?

“I think as a team we have demonstrated even in the most tense competitions between team-mates that we are trying to always balance it right, and be transparent and fair.

“I think there was not a moment, apart from the 2016 Abu Dhabi GP, where we tried to manage a race, and we haven't done since then.

“I can understand that as a driver you want the best out of yourself and the team, and sometimes when it's going against you, you can question.

“But as a team we are 100% on a mission of giving the two drivers two great cars, the best possible cars and best possible strategies and support.”

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton at Miami GP 2024

Hamilton’s relationship with the team was put in the spotlight throughout the Monaco weekend, as there were a number of other moments when he questioned what the team had done.

There was his ‘I told you guys’ message about having to take the Monaco restart on mediums because of the team's initial hard choice, and then the miscommunication that meant he did not push to the maximum on his outlap from a tyre change to undercut Max Verstappen.

Wolff said that tensions in the system were all just a part of everyone wanting to deliver everything they could in difficult circumstances.

“We're trying to do the best out of the relationship, and trying to maximise the results for what is the final season. And like always between drivers, it can be tense at times because everybody wants to do the best.”

And while Russell has outqualified Hamilton seven time to one so far this year, Wolff did not see that as evidence of things staying that way all season.

“I don't think there is a specific explanation for the statistic, but it's still a statistic,” he said. “We are seven races in and there are another 17 to go. I've not seen this as a trend.”

Both Hamilton and Russell will get the new Mercedes front wing for the next race in Canada as part of the upgrade push that the German manufacturer is unleashing.