Hamilton Made Mercedes Exit Decision Before Trying W15 Says Wolff

by Adam OndrikSaturday, 03 February 2024 at 16:00
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Toto Wolff revealed Lewis Hamilton tried the W15 (Mercedes's 2024 challenger) on the simulator only after signing the contract with Ferrari.
It is a bit of a strange situation for both Ferrari, but mostly for Mercedes to know they have to finish one more (full) season with a driver who will be leaving their team at the end.
The shocking announcement of Hamilton's departure from his long-term team caught Toto Wolff by surprise. However, the team principal already has his eyes on the upcoming season. He said on the call with the media yesterday:

"Our focus is on the 2024 season. We have two excellent drivers. We have Lewis in his final year at Mercedes and George eager to get back in the car and perform."

Mercedes went into the winter break, lacking a lot of pace on the leading team - Red Bull. So, the team would have to make enormous development progress to catch up with the team from Milton Keynes.

"Our main objective is to put a car on the track that has more pace than last year's car. We know how competitive the grid is and the challenge that is ahead of us. But we’re motivated to do our very best to compete."

It was speculated that Hamilton knew very well where his team stood at the moment, and that might have been one of the primary reasons behind his decision to leave the German team.
F1 World Champion Damon Hill said he believed the seven-time World Champion would have stayed with Silver Arrows if he knew there was at least a 50/50 chance of competing for the title in upcoming seasons.
On the other hand, Wolff revealed Hamilton tried the new Mercedes on the simulator for the first time only after he already signed the new contract with Ferrari.

"Lewis was in the factory today to drive the W15 on the simulator for the first time. So we’re all focused on the year to come."

Many people ask the primary reason behind the 39-year-old's departure from the team. Is it money? Probably not. Is it the promise of a better car? Hard to tell.
The seven-time World Champion won't be able to dodge all these questions from the media, so we have to wait for him to give us some answers in the upcoming days or weeks.