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I Can't Imagine Him in Red Wolff on Hamilton's Move

“I Can’t Imagine Him in Red”: Wolff on Hamilton’s Move

27/03/2024

Toto Wolff reveals the surprise departure of Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes F1, sharing insights on their pivotal meeting.

Toto Wolff recounted learning about Lewis Hamilton’s departure from Mercedes F1. The team’s principal shared details of their early season meeting, expressing surprise at the timing of his driver’s decision.

“I think it was hard for him to tell me because he left for the Christmas holidays and he’s been with Mercedes forever. Normally, it’s a time we don’t talk much because he’s away, otherwise, we’re in daily communication,” Wolff told Fox Sports Australia.

“Then he came back and said, ‘Can we grab a coffee?’. He came for a coffee, which is usual as the season starts, and he said, ‘I’m moving to Ferrari’. I was like, ‘Really?'”

“It didn’t shock me because we knew our contract was short-term, but the timing, at the start of the season, did surprise me. I asked why at the start of the season. He just wanted to talk about it and not let it become a burden.”

“After that, you have to stay pragmatic. After those five minutes of shock and disbelief, we were like, ‘Okay, what do we do about the announcement? What about the rest of the season?’ He said, ‘The announcement is tricky because I think there are leaks’. He didn’t leave me with many options.”

“I can’t imagine him in red”

Wolff understands Hamilton’s desire for a new challenge, and beyond the initial surprise of the announcement, he wasn’t shocked: “No, not at all.”

“I think athletes have a limited lifespan at the peak of their performance, at the height of their earning potential, and that’s about 10 to 15 years. They need to do it and make the most of this limited time to win as many races and as much as possible.

“That’s why I understand him saying he needs to take a different path, to reinvent himself. I see the positives because our years together were incredible, and we’ve built very strong bonds.”

“In the same way, we’re capable of parting ways while wishing each other the best. I hope we beat him on the track. And at the same time, we can embark on a new path with another new driver alongside George.”

Wolff has already begun teasing Hamilton: “Firstly, I can’t picture him in red. I don’t think it suits him. But I think that image will be interesting. Then, I told him, ‘You really need to imagine our rear wing, because that’s the view you’re going to have.'”

Verstappen a priority to replace Hamilton?

Asked whether Max Verstappen is the top choice to replace Hamilton, the Austrian no longer hides his intentions: “Yes!”

“We see his performances, but I wouldn’t want to overlook others either. I think we have to challenge ourselves.”

“We need to ask what we can do with this car. Then, it’s much easier, regardless of who the driver of the second car is, it’s much easier for George because he has the potential to be a world champion and much more.”

Wolff also mentioned Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz as other options, while Mercedes’ junior driver, Andrea Kimi Antonelli, could also get his chance: “I think it will also depend on what Max does.”

“Then, we have a youngster who is very promising, and I don’t want to put more pressure on him, but it seems he could be among the greats. But we also don’t want to overwhelm him by moving him so quickly into an F1 car at 17.”

“So, we have several options with him. Obviously, there’s Fernando, who is very exciting, and Carlos, who is very good. So, there are several. I’ll be playing hard to get like a bride!”

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