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Hamilton's Exit Opened by Contract Says Mercedes

Mercedes F1 ‘Explicitly Prepared’ for Hamilton Exit

20/06/2024

Mercedes F1 anticipated Lewis Hamilton’s departure, as their contract strategically left an exit open for the star driver.

James Allison, Technical Director of Mercedes F1, revealed that Lewis Hamilton’s departure had not been a great surprise. The seven-time world champion will join Ferrari, and his current team was aware that the contract offered for an extension at Brackley included a clause allowing him to leave, thus averting too much astonishment.

“Not tremendously,” the engineer declared. “I was surprised by the way it happened, the timing, but I was aware of the nature of the contract we had proposed and the fact that it allowed this to occur.”

“We shouldn’t be surprised, as we were explicitly ready for it to happen, otherwise we wouldn’t have offered it as an option in the contract. So, the exact timing and sequence of when it happened, which I think caught everyone slightly off guard, but the fact that it happened, I don’t think it was unforeseeable.”

However, Allison is overwhelmed by Hamilton’s talent, knowing he will be missed by the team. Asked about the Briton’s strengths, he speaks of his ability to find performance under any circumstances: “The days when he produced total magic that made you say ‘oh my God’.”

“The fact of placing a car on the track with such precision that all other drivers around him had no choice but to surrender to what Lewis was doing on the track, the ability to make a tyre last over and over, even telling Bono [Peter Bonnington, Hamilton’s race engineer] it wouldn’t last.”

“It’s the drama that accompanies having him as a teammate. But the performance is simply brilliant, brilliant. I’ve said before that I thought he was the best race driver of all time, and I still believe that.”

Nevertheless, Allison warns his driver that he will be entering already conquered territory at Ferrari, alongside a well-established Charles Leclerc since 2019 within the Scuderia, and that the magnitude of the Ferrari brand is also tricky to manage: “I think initially, it might be tough. At Ferrari, the Ferrari is the star.”

“I think all drivers who have driven a Ferrari, at one level or another, have had to come to terms with this idea. If Lewis accepts and loves it as Michael [Schumacher] did, then there is room for both to be great. If he doesn’t, I think the brand and the Ferrari will always dominate.”

Hamilton’s Exit Opened by Contract, Says Mercedes. Hamilton’s Exit Opened by Contract, Says Mercedes

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