Mercedes’ Toto Wolff has explained how Lewis Hamilton told him about his bombshell move to Ferrari for 2025.
After more than a decade racing with Mercedes, in which he claimed six world titles, Lewis Hamilton’s shock switch to Ferrari for the 2025 season became public knowledge on Thursday as both teams confirmed the World Champion’s new move.
Hamilton had renewed his Mercedes deal with an apparent two-year deal to take him to the end of 2025, but exercised an option in his contract to leave after just a single season in order to make the jump to Ferrari.
Toto Wolff reveals how Lewis Hamilton told him about Ferrari switch
Addressing media, including PlanetF1.com, on Friday morning, Wolff explained the timeline of events over the past days in order to clarify how and when he found out the driver with whom he’s shared so much success with had opted to leave for a rival team.
“When we re-signed the contract with Lewis, we opted for shorter term,” Wolff said.
“So the events are not a surprise, [but] maybe the timing. So what happened is that we got together for coffee in my place in Oxford, and him returning to the factory, and he said to me he’d decided to race for Ferrari in 2025.
“That was basically it, we had a good hour of conversation and… this is where we are.”
With Hamilton always publicly pledging his loyalty to Mercedes in the past, and with no sign of the seven-time World Champion getting itchy feet at the end of 2024, Wolff said he isn’t quite sure what had tempted Hamilton away from Mercedes so soon after signing his new contract deal.
“I cannot tell you exactly,” he said.
“I only know that we were very aligned when we went into the Christmas period [in] what we said in public and in the team.
“You need to ask Lewis why he changed his mind. How he framed it to me is perfectly understandable – 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.
“We’re big boys. We knew that, by signing a short-term contract, it could be of benefit for both sides.
“We couldn’t commit for a longer period and he’s taken the option to exit. So we totally respect that you can change your mind with different circumstances. Switching to Ferrari, maybe for the last peak in his career, [he’s] maybe rolling the dice a bit. I can follow that decision.”
Toto Wolff: We knew partnership would end at the latest in 2025
Given the length of time Wolff and Hamilton have worked together, the incredible highs they’ve lived through, and the extent of their close personal friendship, just how shocked was Wolff by Hamilton’s decision to walk away from the team with whom he’s won so much?
“In a way, Formula 1 and my previous life have made me resilient to surprises. I’ve been confronted so many times in my life with black swans. It was a surprise,” he said.
“But, as I said before, we went with open eyes into this contract, into this phase of our relationship. We knew that, maybe, it could be a year, or it could be two.
“We knew that it would come to an end, latest, at the end of 2025.
“I’d heard the rumours a couple of days earlier but wanted to wait for the breakfast we had planned. It was Wednesday morning and this is when he broke the news.
“But, with me, you can be very straightforward because I’m straightforward too. So, once he said ‘This is what I’m trying to do’, that was the fact. I didn’t try to convince him otherwise.
“But just looking forward to here… what are we doing about communications? What’s the timing? How do we protect the team best, and how do we protect this 2024 year to be successful together with our two drivers without causing too much awkwardness?”