Wolff still can’t imagine Hamilton in red: ‘I don’t think it suits him’

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Toto Wolff is still grappling with the reality of Lewis Hamilton's move to Ferrari next season, and hopes the Briton spends a lot of time in 2025 looking at the back of Mercedes' cars.

Since joining the Silver Arrows outfit in 2013, Hamilton has secured an impressive six driver's championships and a staggering 82 race wins.

However, F1’s 2022 regulations changes that brought ground-effect cars back into the sport halted Mercedes’ dominance dead in its tracks.

Worse, the Brackley squad has been unable to match, let alone beat, Red Bull, its worthy successor at the top of Grand Prix racing’s pyramid, with just a single win – courtesy of George Russell in Brazil in 2022 – coming its way in 47 races.

Hamilton nevertheless committed his long-term future to Mercedes last summer, only for the seven-time world champion to be seized with a change of heart over the winter that prompted him to exercise the special escape clause in his contract and switch his allegiance to Ferrari from 2025.

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Speaking to Fox News Australia last weekend in Melbourne, Wolff shed light on Hamilton’s sudden decision earlier this year, and how media leaks left Mercedes with no other choice but to officially confirm Hamilton’s departure.

“I think it was difficult for him to really tell me because he left for the Christmas holiday and was Mercedes forever,” Wolff recounted.

“Normally that’s a time where we don’t speak a lot because he’s gone, because otherwise we’re speaking every day.


“And then he came back and said, can we have a coffee? He came for the coffee, that’s the normal thing we’re doing when the season kicks off, and he said, ‘I’m leaving to Ferrari’. And I said, ‘really?’

“And not that it shocked me, because we knew that we have a short-term contract, but the timing at the beginning of the season.

“I said, ‘why at the beginning of the season?’ He said he just wanted to have it out and not have it as a burden, emotional burden.

“And then you got to stay pragmatic after five minutes [of] shock and disbelief it was like, ‘okay what are we doing announcement, what are we doing going forward into the season?’

“And he said, ‘well the announcement is a tricky thing because I think it’s leaking’, so it didn’t give me lots of options.”

Despite their close bond forged during their time together at Mercedes, Wolff dismissed any notion of personal disappointment, rather highlighting the strong working relationship he shared with Hamilton for over a decade.

“I think sports people have a limited shelf life when they are at the peak of their performance, peak of their earning power and that is maybe 10 to 15 years and they gotta do it.

“And it’s that limited amount of time where you want to win as many races and earn as much as possible and that’s why I understand that he says I gotta go a different path, I need to reinvent myself.

“And I see the positives because our years were so great and we really have a strong bond. And in the same way, we’re able to separate in wishing each other really all the best.

“I hope we’re beating him on track. And we at the same time can embark in a new route with another new driver next to George [Russell].”

It’s been almost a month since the bombshell news that has shifted Formula 1’s landscape and set ablaze the drivers’ market. Yet Wolff admits that he still can’t mentally project a n image of Hamilton draped in red.

“I think first I can’t imagine him in red,” he added. “I don’t think it suits him, but I think that picture is going to be interesting.

“And then I told him, you’ve got to really picture our rear wing because that’s the perspective you’re going to have.”

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