For the first time since the Japanese Grand Prix of 2012, Mercedes failed to make it into the third and final qualifying session on Friday, leading to speculation as to the nature of a discussion between Toto Wolff and Sir Lewis Hamilton.
The Briton was leaving the Mercedes garage having realised there was no chance of escaping Q2 due to the worsening weather when he encountered the Austrian.
They were reported to have had a “tense and heated” conversation, and it triggered consternation from fans on social media.
“For Toto to be shouting at Lewis. Hell is breaking loose right now,” one fan tweeted, while another took a more balanced approach.
“I’d rather wait till Lewis or Toto speak to the media then make assumptions on what they were speaking about in the garage,” they said.
The 37-year-old expressed his dejection at an extremely difficult day at the office, and set his sights on better fortunes in Saturday’s sprint.
“Naturally it’s disappointing. [We’ve] come here with optimism and you know everyone’s working really hard at the factory and then things just don’t come together, it’s disappointing,” said Hamilton.
“I think we underperformed as a team today, there are things that we should have done that we didn’t do and… anyway, we’ll work as hard as we can to move up in the sprint race.
“It’s going to be a difficult race but hopefully tomorrow’s better weather-wise and we can move our way forwards.”
As for what was said between himself and the team boss, he maintained that he did not want to publicise the conversation.
“It’s all internal stuff so I don’t want to share that but we’ll just keep working,” he stated.
Wolff would then clear everything up ahead of the sprint race, affirming that the pair were simply sharing their displeasure at finding themselves in such an unsatisfactory position.
“There was no disagreement at all. It doesn’t go any closer like the two of us are,” he told Sky Sports.
“We were just so angry about the session overall, him and I, and he vented at me, I vented at him but it was absolutely about the same thing.
“It’s just a degree of frustration that we are not able to generate the grip on the first lap and yesterday was all about first lap. Then it red-flagged and we weren’t able to make it into Q3 and it’s so frustrating.”
Hamilton ended the sprint race 14th with team-mate George Russell in 11th as the Brackley squad look to salvage points from what has been a nightmare weekend thus far.