- Mercedes write open letter to fans and 'haters'
- World champions embattled by conspiracy rumors
- Fans incensed after Hamilton hit by car trouble
(CNN)Winning, it seems, isn't everything.
Mercedes may have roared to the first four races of the 2016 season but the Formula One team has taken the unusual step of publishing an open letter to its fans -- and its detractors.
Conspiracy theories have swirled around the German manufacturer after world champion Lewis Hamilton's car was hamstrung by the same engine problem at the recent Chinese and Russian Grand Prix, leaving his teammate Nico Rosberg a clear run to the flag on both occasions.
Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has already hit out at the "bunch of lunatics" suggesting the team is deliberately sabotaging Hamilton, but Wednesday's letter goes one step further by issuing a rallying cry.
"There will be highs and lows, good days and bad days, successes and defeats," it reads. "But, through all this, we stand united as a team -- just as we always have."
"To those who stand with us, we thank you. And to the rest -- the haters, naysayers and conspirators... if we can convince even half of you what we really stand for, we'll consider that a battle well won."
Theories of favoritism in F1 are nothing new.
When Rubens Barrichello was told to cede first place to his Ferrari teammate Michael Schumacher at the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix it caused such a storm that so-called team orders were banned, although that ruling was eventually dropped.
Mercedes was keen to stress Wednesday that it not only wants to win but to win fair.
"There is no 'A' or 'B' team here," its letter underlined.
Rosberg too has also repeatedly spoken of his desire to beat Hamilton, who he leads by 43 points in the drivers' championship, in a fair fight, rather than by simply taking advantage of his teammate's bad luck.
The team's next chance to fight fair comes at the opening round of the European leg of the F1 season, the Spanish Grand Prix on 15 May.