Mercedes Team Principal Shares His First Thought After Being Told Hamilton Is Leaving

F1
by Adam OndrikSunday, 04 February 2024 at 12:00
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Toto Wolff revealed his initial thought after being told Lewis Hamilton had decided to leave Mercedes.
In 2024, Lewis Hamilton will break the record for the longest stay with a single team. It will be his 12th year with Mercedes after he joined the team ahead of the 2013 season.
The 39-year-old signed a two-year contract with Mercedes last year and spoke multiple times of possibly retiring around 40, so it was assumed he would finish his career with Silver Arrows.
Toto Wolff admitted this news hit him by surprise as he didn't expect the Briton to leave Mercedes at least until the end of 2025. As reported by Sky Sports, he also said:

"When he told me first, my next thought was pragmatic. What does it mean? When are we communicating this? What are the pressure points? How are we managing it this season going forward? And what is it we're going to do in terms of driver line-up? The team's mind kicked in."

Driver lineup is something Toto Wolff will have to look into over the course of the upcoming season. Fortunately, there are quite a few incredible drivers available at the moment. He continued:

"Now having slept a few nights on it, it means that our professional journey comes to an end, working together, but it doesn't mean that our personal relationship ends. I've found a friend, we've built a relationship over the last 10 years."

Wolff built a tremendous and unique relationship with the seven-time World Champion over the many years of their collaboration. The team principal even called Hamilton a "part of the family" quite a few times.
Drivers don't usually get called a family because they frequently change teams, have their interests in mind, and never stay around for too long. Hamilton, though, has been with Mercedes the longest any driver has ever been with their team. The Austrian added:

"It doesn't hurt, because I need to keep the calm and decide how we're going to best manage the 2024 season and what the decisions need to be going forward. It's not like someone that I like a lot is disappearing, it's just changing the team."