Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says he and Lewis Hamilton, 39, remain friends after the surprise move. He promised that Hamilton and teammate George Russell (25 years old) would be treated equally in the 2024 world championship.
Toto Wolff says Hamilton and Mercedes have agreed to continue at Christmas time. Wolff is the boss of the Mercedes Formula 1 team.
When Hamilton returned after the winter break, he had changed his mind.
“We met for coffee at my house in Oxford, and he said he had decided to drive for Ferrari in 2025. We talked for a good hour, and now we are here,” says Wolff.
It was announced on Thursday that Hamilton will drive for Ferrari from 2025. Hamilton has been with Mercedes since 2013 and has won six World Cup golds for the team.
Wolff says he has spoken to Hamilton about the possibility of ending his career at Mercedes, and that it is something the Englishman can be proud of. However, he chose a new challenge.
– All racing drivers dream of wearing a red suit in a red car. I'm not surprised by what's happening. Maybe it's just the timing, but I understand that Wolf persists.
As soon as the Mercedes president learned of the decision, he started thinking practically. What does this mean for the biker gang?
– Now that I can sleep a few nights on it, it only means that our professional journey is over. He says: But this does not mean that our personal relationship ends.
He says he has no bitterness at Hamilton and says he has found a friend in the 39-year-old.
Hamilton is seeking to win his eighth world title.
– As a friend, I would love for him to get the eighth title. Hopefully he can get it in 2024. But then, of course, I'd rather we win.
Wolff recounted when Hamilton's racing engineer, Peter Bonnington (popularly known as “Bono”), first learned of the switch.
– When I told him, he asked me: “Is it April 1?” Bonnington's future at Mercedes is also uncertain as a result of the move.
The Mercedes boss is clear that Hamilton and Russell should be treated equally and fairly – although it is clear that Hamilton will drive for Ferrari in 2025.
-We will be completely open. I have no doubt about Lewis' integrity when it comes to sharing information. “We will do our best to make 2024 a successful season for both of our drivers,” he said according to Motorsport.com.
Wolff must now take the place of the seven-time world champion. It is claimed that the thankless task is not yet on the Austrian's mind.
The bad news is that the two potential candidates, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc, have in recent weeks extended their contracts with McLaren and Ferrari.
– George has the potential to become our next number one driver, says Wolff – and would not comment on who is suitable to replace Hamilton in 2025.
– He belongs to the same generation as Landau, Leclerc and some others. I couldn't have asked for a better mentor for the team after Lewis left.
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