File picture: Daniel Dal Zennaro / EPA-EFE.

Hamburg - Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff has come to the defence of Sebastian Vettel from Formula One rival team Ferrari over the latest criticism of the German driver.

Vettel had to settle for fourth at the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday after opening-lap contact with championship leader Lewis Hamilton, who went on to win the race and stretch his lead over Vettel to 30 points.

There were suggestions that Vettel, who spun and had to fight his way up from the back of the field, could have avoided the incident but Wolff told Thursday's edition of German Die Welt paper that the criticism "was not fair."

"He has the ambition to win whenever possible, and he has the necessary aggression for it. You need a lot of courage for that. Collisions are part of his style of driving a Formula One car," Wolff said.

Wolff added the Monza incident showed that sheer luck could be a factor in the F1 title race.

"Instead of Sebastian it could have been Lewis affected badly in this incident. Not everything is decided in a linear and rational way in in the high-tech universe of Formula One but also with luck, misfortune and coincidence," Wolff said.

However, he also insisted that his man Hamilton "is the best Formula One driver of the past years."

DPA