“We are mature individuals”: Wolff holds no resentment after Hamilton’s unexpected move to Ferrari.
Toto Wolff, the principal of the Mercedes team, has stated that there is no animosity between himself and Lewis Hamilton following Hamilton’s decision to depart from the team and join Ferrari in 2025.
On Thursday, it was announced that Hamilton, who has been with Mercedes since 2013, will be leaving the team and joining Scuderia. According to Wolff, he was only informed of this decision on Wednesday morning and it caught him off guard.
Wolff joined Mercedes the same year as Hamilton and the pair have formed a very close friendship, during what has been one of the most successful runs in Formula One history. Hamilton had spoken of ending his career with Mercedes and had signed a new contract with the team in August of last year.
At 39 years old, the individual did not have a conversation with his team leader. When informed, Wolff stated that he did not try to dissuade Hamilton from making the move. Although Wolff and the Mercedes team were disappointed with the decision, he assured that their personal bond remained strong, although he did suggest having reservations about Hamilton’s approach to the situation.
“In the future, we will explore the possibility of approaching this matter in an alternative manner, but I do not harbor any resentment,” stated Wolff. “After having had time to reflect on it, I acknowledge that our professional partnership may be coming to a close, but our personal connection remains intact.”
“I have made a friend with whom I have developed a strong bond over the past decade. Recently, he was confronted with a challenging decision about where to go, and for the first time in 10 years, he couldn’t consult with me for guidance. I will forever honor the difficulty of the situation he was in.”
Wolff was speaking publicly for the first time since the news was confirmed on Thursday evening. He said Hamilton had told him face to face and that it was the timing that was unexpected. The deal they had closed in August included a release clause for 2025, but Wolff had clearly not anticipated Hamilton would activate it before the 2024 season had even begun.
“We were well aware of the possibility when signing the contract. The timing may have been unexpected, but we understood that a short-term agreement could be advantageous for both parties. Due to our inability to commit to a longer period, we respect his decision to leave. Circumstances can change and we understand that.”
Hamilton has not elaborated on his stance beyond the statement released by Mercedes on Thursday. In the statement, he expressed his desire for a new challenge, a sentiment that was also communicated to Wolff on Wednesday.
“I completely understand how he presented it to me,” stated Wolff. “He expressed that he was seeking a new challenge, a change of scenery, and that this was likely his final opportunity to pursue something different.”