'I Hold No Grudge': Wolff Understands Hamilton's Situation

F1
by Adam OndrikSaturday, 03 February 2024 at 12:00
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In a recent live call with media, Toto Wolff explained why he holds no grudge against the seven-time World Champion for leaving his team.
Lewis Hamilton's departure from Mercedes after the end of the 2024 season was announced in such a hurry that it caught everyone by surprise.
It was suggested even Toto Wolff didn't know about the 39-year-old's decision until very shortly before the official announcement. On the other hand, the team principal mentioned it was something to count on when signing a short-term deal.

"When we signed the new contract last August, we opted for a shorter-term deal. We knew that it could be a benefit for both sides."

Mercedes knew about the clause in the contract that would allow both Hamilton (and the team) to change their mind after the end of the 2024 season.

"We couldn’t commit for a longer period, and we totally respect that you can change your mind. We’re big boys."

Apparently, the seven-time World Champion was seeking a new challenge. He is 39 years old at the moment, and going to Ferrari now might be his last chance.

"It’s perfectly understandable that he needed a new challenge, that he was looking for a different environment, and that it was maybe the last possibility to do something else."

On the other hand, the Austrian team principal admitted it still caught him by surprise when he found out Hamilton would be departing the team already after 2024.

"We knew that our partnership would come to an end one day. We thought that was possibly at the end of 2025, so it was still a bit of a surprise."

Nevertheless, Wolff respects the 39-year-old's decision. The team principal and the driver built a great relationship over 10 years, and that will continue even beyond Hamilton's move to Ferrari.

"But I hold no grudge. What it means is that our professional relationship comes to an end. Our personal relationship will continue, though; we have a friendship that we’ve built over the past 10 years. Lewis faced a difficult decision of where to drive, and I respect the difficulty of the situation that he faced."