Wolff was ‘never worried’ about Hamilton quitting F1

Jon Wilde
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell at the Mercedes W13 launch. Silverstone February 2022.

Mercedes-AMG F1 W13 E Performance Launch - Lewis and George

Toto Wolff has admitted Lewis Hamilton was “disillusioned” by the way last season ended – but never feared he would walk away from F1.

Hamilton is back fully in the Mercedes fold, having returned to work in the last couple of weeks and taken part in the launch of the new W13 car and its shakedown at a stormy Silverstone.

But for around six weeks, the world was unsure what even the immediate future held for the seven-time former World Champion as he remained silent on both mainstream and social media following the controversial manner in which a record-breaking eighth Drivers’ crown was snatched from his grasp by Max Verstappen.

It was almost certainly no coincidence that around 20 hours before Hamilton re-emerged publicly at the Mercedes launch, Michael Masi, the race director who made the hugely contentious decisions at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, had been removed from that role by the FIA.

That outcome may or may not have been a key factor, at least privately, in Hamilton deciding to continue, but nevertheless his team boss insists he never thought he would find himself having to find a different driver over the winter to partner newcomer George Russell.

“I was never worried, although you have to respect the driver is disillusioned after such an event,” Wolff told BBC Radio 4.

“But we have a strong team and great support, so I knew he would come back.

“We all were disillusioned because the stopwatch never lies and Lewis was clearly the best guy on track in Abu Dhabi, dominating the race, and then it was taken away by a single individual against all the rules, so to digest that is very difficult.

“Like all of us, there was an initial shock. We have never seen anything like that so he had to walk away, free his mind and think about something else, and start to work on those events and find a solution.”


Set for his 16th campaign as a Formula 1 driver and 10th with Mercedes, Wolff also expressed no doubts about the 37-year-old Briton retaining the same enthusiasm.

“Yes, absolutely,” said the Austrian. “He is in love with the sport and we are ready to hunt for victories and hopefully the World Championship. He is in the right mindset.

“It was not about the race director or anyone else, but about Lewis making peace with how the race ended.

“Lewis is all about justice and sporting fairness and that wasn’t the case [in Abu Dhabi]. He needed time to reflect, he comes back strong and is in good spirits.

“The most important thing is we move on. There has been so much discussion about Abu Dhabi – and for the right reasons because how the grand prix ended is not how a Formula 1 World Championship should end – but the FIA have put in a new structure and we are happy about that.”


Hamilton ‘never ever said’ he was going to quit

Lewis Hamilton claims that he never said that he was leaving Formula One.