Toto Wolff has paid tribute to an “important” Lewis Hamilton and also respected his desire for a “fresh challenge” as his move away from Mercedes was confirmed.
Mercedes made official confirmation of a rumour that had circulated much of the day on Thursday by stating Hamilton will depart the team come the end of his 2024 season.
Soon after, Ferrari confirmed they had signed the seven-time World Champion on a multi-year deal and Wolff has wished him well on the “fresh challenge.”
Toto Wolff reacts to Lewis Hamilton Mercedes departure
Wolff and Hamilton both arrived at Mercedes in 2013 and have gone on to achieve success unparalleled in the history of F1. A record eight Constructors’ titles and six championships for Hamilton had made the pair the most successful team-driver duo in the sport’s history.
“In terms of a team-driver pairing, our relationship with Lewis has become the most successful the sport has seen, and that’s something we can look back on with pride;” Wolff said.
“Lewis will always be an important part of Mercedes motorsport history. However, we knew our partnership would come to a natural end at some point, and that day has now come.
“We accept Lewis’s decision to seek a fresh challenge, and our opportunities for the future are exciting to contemplate. But for now, we still have one season to go, and we are focused on going racing to deliver a strong 2024.”
Hamilton leaving was certainly something Wofff had comprehended and he admitted in March last year during the team’s performance troubles that the driver would look elsewhere if their car did not improve.
“If Lewis wants to win another championship he needs to make sure he has the car,” said Wolff.
“And if we cannot demonstrate that we are able to give him a car in the next couple of years then he will need to look everywhere. I don’t think he is doing it at this stage, but I will have no complaints if that happens in a year or two.”
“I am absolutely confident [Hamilton will stay]. We are talking when we want to do it, and how, but we just need to change some terms and the dates basically.
“Lewis is at the stage of his career where we trust each other, we have formed a great bond and we have no reason to doubt each other even though is a difficult spell. It will be so nice when we come out of the valley of tears and return to solid performances.”