Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has revealed how he heard the news that Lewis Hamilton will exchange the Mercedes team for Ferrari in 2025. According to the Austrian, Hamilton politely announced it himself after the winter break, but the timing was still a complete surprise.
Although Hamilton’s contract allowed the Brit to leave for another team after the 2024 season, Wolff did not think that would happen so soon. “When we parted ways in December, the idea was that we would continue together,” says Wolff, according to the Dutch branch of Motorsport.com. ‘During the winter something apparently changed in him and that’s okay. The timing of announcing something like this at the start of the season is just new.’
Wolff also explains how he thinks the conversation in which Hamilton said he was leaving for Italy went. ‘We met at my house to catch up after the winter. During the conversation we quickly came to the news. This is also necessary because otherwise you discuss what happened last winter and which people joined the team. With the news from Lewis in mind, this is information that you have to be careful with, especially if it concerns the long term.’
Wolff praises Hamilton’s honesty
Wolff praises Hamilton for his honesty in immediately sharing his departure with him, but had to process the news for a while. ‘He immediately said: I made a difficult decision last winter and will drive for Ferrari in 2025. When Lewis said that, I took a sip of water and after five minutes the focus was back on how we are going to proceed.’
When asked whether the Mercedes team boss has tried to convince the seven-time world champion to stay with Mercedes, Wolff answers negatively. “I didn’t try to change his mind,” Wolff said. ‘You have to respect it when adults make a decision. I can have my opinion about it, I can think it is good or bad, but he has certainly thought about it longer than I have.’
Timing of Hamilton’s farewell is just as unexpected as with Rosberg
It is not the first time for Wolff in his career as Mercedes team boss that the Austrian had to deal with unexpected news from one of his drivers. Nico Rosberg’s unexpected farewell after winning the world championship in 2016 was a similar moment for Wolff. ‘We flew back from Kuala Lumpur together and I already knew that something was bothering him (Rosberg, ed.) because he didn’t want to let me sleep, but wanted to talk. When we landed and were sitting in the lounge, he mustered up the courage and said to me: I don’t want to do it anymore, this was it. I was as surprised by the timing then as I am now with Lewis.’