Big Toto Wolff question asked ahead of Lewis Hamilton’s final Mercedes season

Michelle Foster
Toto Wolff shakes hands with Lewis Hamilton.

2024 will be Lewis Hamilton's final season with Toto Wolff's Mercedes team.

Hans-Joachim Stuck claims Lewis Hamilton could be in for a “very difficult” final season with Mercedes, and it all depends on whether or not he has Toto Wolff’s support.

Hamilton shocked many, including his team boss, when he activated a release clause in his contract even before the first Grand Prix of his newest two-year deal that he agreed only in August last year.

Instead of racing for Mercedes in 2025, he’s off to Ferrari having signed a multi-year contract with the Maranello team.

Hans-Joachim Stuck questions the level of Lewis Hamilton support in 2024

It’s rare in Formula 1 for a driver and their team to know even before the start of a season that it will be their final one together.

And it begs the question how much support will Hamilton get from Mercedes or will the team throw all their efforts behind George Russell given he’s their future?

Stuck believes that’s the big question for team boss Wolff.

“I see a very difficult 2024 season for Hamilton and Mercedes,” the former F1 driver told Eurosport. “To what extent will Toto Wolff still be behind him?

“It is known that the two are good friends. But to what extent will Hamilton be supported in the coming months and initiated into the development for the coming years?”

Wolff has already stated that while Mercedes will continue to be “transparent and fair” from a racing perspective, “in terms of the development going forward, I think this is something which we need to look at”.

Hamilton can expect that as the team develops the car later in the season, turning their focus to 2025, he could be frozen out of those conversations.

That’s because, as Stuck explained, “of course he takes secrets with him to Ferrari.

“This will be a difficult season for everyone involved. If you announce the change at the end of a season – boom, boom, good. But of course, you also have to plan for the long term.”

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Hamilton will join Ferrari on the back of a deal that’s reportedly worth $446m, made up of salary as well as a joint-investment fund via Ferrari’s parent brand Exor.

Stuck reckons that will smooth over any bumps as Hamilton adjusts to life with the Maranello team.

“Hamilton is a special personality. But I’m curious to see whether he can cope with the Ferrari system – where everything runs a little differently,” he said.

“Of course, he will have this step gilded nicely with his salary, he deserves it.

“But he has to submit now. He’s certainly not used to that.”

Submit, that is, to Charles Leclerc.

Leclerc re-signed with Ferrari earlier this season amidst reports the Scuderia intend building the team and a championship fight around the five-time Grand Prix winner.

Now he has Hamilton as a team-mate, and it’s fair to say neither is the type of driver who plays wingman.

“Compared to Leclerc, Hamilton is no longer the youngest and we have experienced this story many times. A driver changes the team, then a younger driver comes along and lights a fire under his ass,” Stuck continued.

“Of course, Hamilton can win his eighth title – but he can also lose a lot. Assuming Leclerc beats Hamilton… That would be a bad end to his career.”

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