Hamilton despatched the motorsport world right into a spin on Friday morning when it was introduced that he would depart Mercedes to join rival top-tier team Ferrari on a multi-year deal from 2025.
Hamilton solely finalised a two-year extension with Mercedes final August — committing to the 2024 and 2025 seasons — however activated a launch clause within the deal which allows him to hitch Ferrari midway by.
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Hamilton’s shock exit from Brackley terminates an 11-year affiliation with Mercedes, and Wolff, which started in 2013 and noticed him win six of the world drivers’ championships between 2014 and 2020.
Fronting media on Friday, Wolff acknowledged that in signing Hamilton to a curtailed extension, each events agreed to capitalise on future alternatives.
“[Hamilton] felt he wanted change and I can perceive that,” he stated.
“We now have had great success. We shared the opinion after we determined to signal a short-term contract that there could also be alternatives for him and for us.
“Possibly one consideration was the chance to signal a longer-term contract with Ferrari and provides it a very massive go on the finish of his profession.
“We now have had a sensational journey collectively that may go down within the historical past books. We wish to end on a excessive when it comes to his [Mercedes] profession, however we’ll construct one other part of success — and we’ll look again on this excellent time with Lewis.”
Wolff defined that Hamilton had knowledgeable him of his choice to go away over breakfast on the Austrian’s residence two days earlier than the official announcement.
He had heard rumours about Hamilton’s future with the group however wished to listen to the information from the seven-time world champion himself.
The 52-year-old claimed he didn’t try to vary his thoughts.
“We received collectively for espresso at my place in Oxford. He stated to me he had determined to race for Ferrari in 2025 and that was principally it. We had an excellent hour of dialog,” Wolff stated.
“System 1 has made me resilient to surprises. [But] it was a shock. As soon as he stated, ‘That is what I am making an attempt to do’, that was the actual fact. I did not attempt to persuade him in any other case.
“It implies that our skilled journey involves an finish, nevertheless it does not imply our private relationship ends. I’ve discovered a buddy. We now have constructed a relationship over the previous 10 years.
“He confronted a really tough scenario. Possibly for the primary time in 10 years with out with the ability to brainstorm with me,” Wolff joked.
“I’ll at all times respect the tough scenario he confronted. Sooner or later, we are able to focus on whether or not this might have been achieved otherwise or not, however I’ll maintain no grudge.”
Hamilton has didn’t report a race win for the reason that 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix — bearing witness to the rise of Max Verstappen at Pink Bull.
After a run of 4 straight titles, in 2021, Hamilton controversially lost a record-breaking eighth world championship to Verstappen on the ultimate lap of the season-decider in Abu Dhabi after confusion surrounding the proper and constant utility of security automotive procedures within the ultimate moments.
Hamilton sat sixth within the 2022 drivers’ standings and completed the 2023 season third behind Pink Bull companions Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
”He wanted a brand new problem — he was on the lookout for a special atmosphere and it was perhaps a final chance to do one thing else,” Wolff stated.
“We knew by signing a short-term contract it may very well be of profit to either side. He’s taking the choice to exit. We completely respect which you can change your thoughts.
“Switching to Ferrari, perhaps rolling the cube a bit, I can observe that call.
“The buddy aspect of me says he ought to have an eighth as a result of that was taken away from him. If he wins that in 2024, that will be an awesome factor. However going ahead, I might fairly we win.”
With the ink dry, Wolff has turned his consideration to reaching a profitable farewell marketing campaign for Hamilton whereas trying to find George Russell‘s subsequent Silver Arrows teammate.
“In System 1, it’s all about agility, with the ability to embrace a change of circumstance,” he stated.
“George has the potential to be the following lead driver within the group. We now have such strong foundations so we simply must make the proper alternative for the second seat and that’s not one thing I wish to be rushed into.
“Understanding we now have a driver at that stage makes the choice on the second driver way more snug. I have not mirrored with the group the place we’ll go, from rookie to very skilled.
“It’s an thrilling scenario on the finish of 2024 with drivers changing into out there. In 2025 and past, the motive force market may be very fascinating.
“I at all times like change as a result of change gives you with alternative. Possibly it’s a probability to do one thing daring.”