Toto Wolff says he will be as ‘fair and transparent’ with both his drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell as before, despite the seven-time world champion leaving the team at the end of the season to join Ferrari.
For years, Hamilton was linked with a move to Ferrari, which he resolutely rejected and claimed that he wanted to finish his career at Mercedes, with which he won six out of seven championships.
But Mercedes’ decline in competitiveness over the last two seasons, the lure of Ferrari and a reunion with former Art Grand Prix GP2 team boss Frederic Vasseur were clearly too strong reasons for him to turn down an offer at the end of his highly successful career.
Wolff admitted that he was surprised by Hamilton’s decision because such a scenario was not foreseen in the run-up to Christmas, but that regardless, he will treat both drivers equally in the coming season.
“I think I’ve always tried, as a team leader, like all of us at Mercedes, to be transparent and honest,” Wolff said.
“And nothing in that regard will change in 2024.” “We owe it to our principles and our racing intentions and we will respect that. And I will make sure the drivers respect that.”
“As for further development, I think that’s something we have to consider. The rules remain largely the same. And as for 2025, we’ll assess later in the season what that means technically, but it’s not something that bothers me at all.”
“We have engineers who leave us and go to other teams, and the notice periods are sometimes only six months.”
“So I don’t doubt Lewis’s integrity, in terms of sharing information. And in that sense, we want to make sure that this will be a successful season for both drivers and a successful season for Mercedes. And we will all do our best to achieve that.”
ercedes will have to balance their interests and Hamilton’s
Wolff added that he will enjoy the additional challenge of the flow of information towards a driver who is leaving the team at the end of the season.
“Definitely a new situation to manage,” he said.
“But it’s really a short-term thing, and this is a racing team that’s hired to manage the product and it doesn’t have a huge impact on everything that’s going on on the development side.”
“I’m always interested in new and challenging situations, and balancing the interests of Mercedes in 2024 and the interests of the drivers ahead of 2025 is something that we will discuss openly at the beginning, how to resolve it and we will certainly come to a good outcome between us.”
Wolff recently signed a new contract with Mercedes, as did technical director James Allison, and it is not yet known who will replace Hamilton in 2025.
Sainz, Albon and Alonso are emerging as possible candidates, all of whom are out of contract at the end of 2024.