Following speculation that a first taste of the Mercedes W15 may have scared Lewis Hamilton away to Ferrari, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has confirmed this is not the case.
It appeared that Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari were always going to remain a ‘what if?’ F1 dream team, only for the bombshell to drop that Ferrari have agreed a deal to bring Hamilton to Maranello as of F1 2025.
That is next season though and before that, Hamilton has one final campaign with Mercedes as this iconic pairing looks to go out on a high, following two very challenging campaigns.
Lewis Hamilton first tested Mercedes W15 after Ferrari signature
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher
Hamilton has now gone two seasons without a grand prix victory, his last visit to the top step of the podium coming at the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with Mercedes struggling to contain the dominant Red Bull team since Formula 1’s switch to ground effect aerodynamics.
Mercedes are quietly optimistic for their next creation, the W15, which Wolff has said will be “more conventional” in design as the eight-time Constructors’ champions look to return to the title conversation, though rumours had emerged that this challenger in creation perhaps played a key role in Hamilton joining Ferrari.
However, Wolff debunked the idea that Hamilton had ran to Ferrari after testing the W15 in the simulator, as it was not until February 2, the day after Hamilton to Ferrari was confirmed, that he tested the W15 for the first time.
Asked by media including PlanetF1.com whether Hamilton has driven the W15 in the sim yet, Wolff replied: “Today.”
Hamilton cut a frustrated figure during the early days of last year’s Mercedes, the W14, publicly criticising the team due to feeling like his input had been ignored.
Wolff then was asked whether he felt Mercedes had at any point missed an opportunity to keep Hamilton through the development of their challengers, or whether this Ferrari switch was inevitable regardless.
He replied: “First of all, the car has been developed in the team with a lot of science and a lot of data and the driver gives us guidance of what he feels in the car, and then this is being dissected and then decided whether it happens or not.
“So we must not underplay nor overplay the input of a driver and the development of a car.
“In terms of did we miss? No. Everything that we are doing we are doing it with consciousness and open eyes. And we felt that a longer-term contract would limit our options going forward.
“So absolutely aware of all the positives and negatives and weighing it up, that is what we decided to do.”
Hamilton will partner Charles Leclerc at Ferrari, who recently put pen to paper on fresh terms to remain with the Scuderia.