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Wolff had hunch about Hamilton when Vasseur went silent

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has revealed how a delayed reply from Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur became the subtle telltale sign that Lewis Hamilton would be embarking on a new chapter at the Scuderia.

Hamilton's decision to activate a break clause in his Mercedes contract and join Ferrari for the 2025 season sent shockwaves through the paddock.

While Wolff admitted the move wasn't entirely unexpected, the timing did throw a curveball.

Despite the impending separation, Wolff assures that the relationship between Mercedes and Hamilton remains strong, with both parties committed to concluding their partnership on a high note.

“I think you know when the news broke clearly it is a new situation it’s somewhat something that we didn’t anticipate happening at that stage of the season and it’s a new dynamic and that’s clearly something we have to work on,” Wolff said in Bahrain on Wednesday.

“But having said that, we’ve been together, spent some time in the factory and at various events and it’s absolutely fine on a human level and it’s also in the professional terms, we have a full season to go.

“We want to have the best competitive car, both drivers given the opportunity to do the best possible results and how great would it be to finish on a high with Lewis this year and we’ve had wonderful times and 10 more months to go and we keep it all.”

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The news of Hamilton's transfer to Ferrari wasn't just a bombshell for F1 fans, it also stirred emotional complexities behind the scenes.

Vasseur revealed at the time that contacting Wolff, his long-time friend, to confirm the news was a difficult call to make.

Wolff, in turn, hinted at the uneasiness preceding the official announcement. He felt a shift when Vasseur's usual prompt response to their messages came to a screeching halt.

This delay, subtle yet significant, fueled speculations about what was brewing.

When asked if Vasseur had done a good job handling the phone call well, Wolff's humor masked a deeper sentiment.

"No, he didn't do a good job!" the Austrian replied, hinting at the awkwardness of the moment.

“We are friends since a long time and in the same way, we are knowledge that we are competitors on tracks.

“And so that is a balancing act that is not always easy, because we have the duty and the obligation to perform to the best of our abilities for the interest of our team. And this is what Fred has done in that situation.

“I understand the rationale. Obviously, it’s not always easy in such a good relationship to know how to handle that, but it has no effects or no repercussion on the relationship that I will have with Fred.

“When I sent Fred a WhatsApp two days before he didn’t reply, so I guess I knew. But then, no, Fred didn’t tell me, Lewis felt that he wanted to tell me first.”

©Mercedes

Despite the momentous and disruptive development, Wolff emphasized the positive atmosphere within the Mercedes team, highlighting its strong morale and dynamic interactions.

“The morale in the team and the dynamics we have this year has been over the winter, it’s been great,” Wolff said.

“We spend a lot of time trying to look to introspect and say, what is it that we can do better? And what we’re seeing is an organization that is really buzzing and is keen to fight and develop a car that’s quicker whilst sticking to our mindset and to our values. And this is something we want to deliver this year.

“And it may have been awkward at the beginning of how are we doing this for the rest of the season. But now everything has fallen into place and you know it’s just a concentration of the moment and the next race is to come.”

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Michael Delaney

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