Formula 1 Racing

How Hamilton told Mercedes he was leaving and why Wolff holds “no grudge” · RaceFans

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says he holds no grudge against Lewis Hamilton for his decision to leave for Ferrari at the end of the year.

The team announced yesterday Hamilton will leave at the end of this season, having driven for them since 2013. Hamilton and Mercedes have enjoyed the most successful partnership between a driver and team in the history of F1, winning eight constructors’ titles together while Hamilton has taken the drivers’ title six times.

In August Mercedes announced it had agreed terms for Hamilton to continue driving for them in 2024 and 2025. But yesterday it confirmed Hamilton had taken advantage of an escape clause in his contract to leave the team.

Wolff said Hamilton’s decision was not entirely unexpected. “When we signed the contract with Lewis, we opted for a shorter term,” he told media including RaceFans today. “So the events are not a surprise. Maybe the timing.”

Hamilton informed Wolff of his decision two days ago over coffee at the Mercedes principal’s home in Oxford. “He said to me that he had decided to race for Ferrari in 2025. And that was, that was basically it. Then we had a conversation and this is where we are.”

Hamilton told Wolff he had decided to take on a new challenge and wanted to change his environment. However Wolff also believes Hamilton, who will turn 40 next year, is taking advantage of what could be his last chance to race for F1’s most historic team.

“How he framed it to me is perfectly understandable,” said Wolff, “that he needed a new challenge, that he was looking for a different environment and that it was maybe the last possibility to do something else.

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“We’re big boys, we knew that by signing a short-term contract, it could be of benefit for both sides. We couldn’t commit for a longer period. And he’s taken the option to exit. So we totally respect that you can change your mind. There’s different circumstances. And switching to Ferrari, maybe for the last [move] in his career. Maybe rolling the dice a bit, I can follow that decision.”

Having enjoyed unprecedented success over much of their time together, the team has been in a slump for the past two years, during which time Hamilton has not won a single race. Although Hamilton continued to profess his commitment to the team and extended his contract to drive for them, Wolff said he “holds no grudge” over his decision to leave.

“It doesn’t hurt…

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