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Toto Wolff laughs off Bernie Ecclestone 'hand grenade'

Toto Wolff and Bernie Ecclestone pictured together at the 2015 Canadian Grand Prix. Mark Sutton/Sutton Images

MEXICO CITY -- Toto Wolff has brushed off comments made by former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone that Mercedes helped Ferrari become a title contender in 2017.

This year has seen Ferrari provide Mercedes with its toughest challenge since the introduction of V6 turbo engines. Much of the success has been credited with the revamp to Ferrari's chassis department after the departure of James Allison last year.

However Ecclestone, who was removed as F1 boss when Liberty Media took over the sport this year, has caused a stir by suggesting the Italian team had outside help.

When asked by La Repubblica who helped Ferrari, Ecclestone said: "Mercedes -- and for good reason. A world championship won against Sauber is one thing. One won against Ferrari is another."

Ecclestone also suggested the two teams are working together to keep Red Bull away from the battle for championships.

"I say maybe. In the past it has already happened with [Mercedes helping] Honda. And if Mercedes had decided to translate technology to Maranello, I say it was a good move.

"It is also certain that with the friendly situation between the two teams, the best thing for Stuttgart in 2017 was to make sure that a) that Red Bull did not have the most powerful engines and b) Ferrari was competitive enough to be a credible rival to beat."

Wolff laughed off those suggestions when asked about them in the Mexico City paddock this weekend.

"He is the only one who is able to sit on the other side of the world and throw a hand grenade and it actually lands in the paddock," he said. "I like it. These stories are fantastic. At least I'm a little bit past it and at least the hand grenades, pop-up meetings, crisis situations and ruling divides make a good story."