Lewis Hamilton to be frozen out? Toto Wolff addresses question of Mercedes dynamics

Oliver Harden
Mercedes team principal Lewis Hamilton speaking to Toto Wolff in the garage, hand gesture. Saudi Arabia March 2023

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton speaking to Toto Wolff in the garage at the 2023 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix.

Toto Wolff has moved to play down fears that Lewis Hamilton will be frozen out by Mercedes this year ahead of his F1 2025 switch to Ferrari.

Despite signing a new two-year contract with Mercedes in August, Hamilton confirmed on Thursday that he will join Ferrari in 2025 having activated a break clause in his revised deal.

Hamilton’s exit will bring an end to one of the most successful team-driver partnerships in F1 history, with the 39-year-old winning six of his seven World Championships in Mercedes colours.

Toto Wolff facing unique challenge ahead of Lewis Hamilton exit

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

With the start of the 2024 campaign still a month away, Hamilton’s early announcement has raised fears that he could be frozen out by the team this season with team-mate George Russell given preferential treatment.

Speaking to media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher on Friday, however, Wolff has reaffirmed his commitment to treating both drivers fairly.

And the Mercedes boss has insisted that he has no concerns that Hamilton could take the team’s technical secrets to his new employers in 2025.

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He said: “I think what I’ve always tried to do as a team principal, and all of us at Mercedes, is to be transparent and fair – and nothing’s going to change in that respect in 2024.

“We owe it to our principles and our racing intent, how we go about [racing], and we will respect that.

“And I will [ensure] that the drivers will respect that.

“In terms of the development going forward, I think this is something which we need to look at.

“The regulations stay pretty much the same and when it comes to 2025, we will evaluate later in the season what it means in terms of technical information.

“But that’s not something that bothers me at all. We have engineers that leave us and go to other teams, and the notice periods are sometimes as short as six months, so I don’t have any doubt about Lewis’s integrity in terms of sharing information in that respect.

“I just want to make sure – we want to make sure – that this is a successful season – a successful season for both drivers and a successful season for Mercedes all of us will give our utmost to achieve that.”

Wolff is prepared to embrace the challenge of balancing Mercedes’ interests with those of Hamilton, believing that team and driver will continue to work in harmony until they part ways at the end of 2024.

He explained: “It’s definitely a new situation to manage, for Lewis and the team but it is something that when you focus on the really short term – and this is the racing team that’s been deployed to run the product – it doesn’t have a big impact on everything that’s happening going forward on the development side.

“I’m always interested in new and challenging situations and I’m balancing 2024 Mercedes interests versus 2025 driver interests.

“It’s something that we will openly discuss at the beginning, how to manage that, and for sure come to a good outcome between us.”

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