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Wolff Leak Hamilton Ferrari
© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Wolff’s Leak Pressures Ferrari to Prematurely Announce Hamilton

28/02/2024

Toto Wolff’s strategic leak about Hamilton’s Ferrari move has set the Formula 1 paddock abuzz, reshaping the season’s dynamics.

Lewis Hamilton’s move to Ferrari was kept under wraps until almost the last moment. It was only a few hours before the announcement on February 1st that rumors began to swirl in the media before being officially confirmed.

However, Ferrari had not planned to communicate such a significant signing so swiftly. According to Gazzetta dello Sport, it was Toto Wolff who leaked the information to force Scuderia into making an announcement.

“It was a move by Toto Wolff against Hamilton and Ferrari,” stated former F1 driver Ivan Capelli. “It thwarted an announcement that was meant to be made during the season.”

This is a serious claim, especially as Ferrari’s team principal, Fred Vasseur, has become increasingly frustrated by the ongoing questions about Hamilton last week in Bahrain.

“We need to gradually put the Hamilton topic to rest, please. Our full focus must now be on the upcoming season. I will be happy to discuss Hamilton closer to the 2025 season.”

Hamilton himself also hinted at the suspicion that it must have been Wolff – his boss for the entirety of 2024 – who leaked the news after hearing it directly from the 39-year-old driver the day before at a lunch.

“I didn’t talk to anyone about it. I didn’t even tell my parents until the day it was announced. So, no one knew.”

Wolff’s Strategy, Mercedes’ Uncertain Future

Except for Toto Wolff, that is. But the Austrian probably had no choice: he needed to quickly reposition Mercedes F1 as a strong contender in the driver market and publicly signal to all the top available drivers that a seat was up for grabs.

However, everyone in the paddock, including Mercedes and the interested drivers, according to Ralf Schumacher, will be waiting a bit longer.

“From my perspective, the testing was a bit disappointing, at least from what we’ve seen. Will Mercedes really make a comeback? Would a well-settled Fernando Alonso at Aston Martin be interested in a team that’s still struggling?”

“On the other hand, Wolff now has all the time to assess options for Hamilton’s replacement. If Russell cannot become the new number one, it will be an even bigger issue because Wolff will then need to find another number one.”

“I see the biggest potential problems at Mercedes this year. Hamilton and Russell will not get along at all. And Hamilton no longer has the full protection of the team. The king’s status is gone. Russell will want to use this to his advantage. But I fear the fact that Lewis has already decided to leave suggests that not everything is set for success at the moment.”

“It could also become particularly exciting within the team if rumors are true and two engineers might join Ferrari with him.”

Hamilton, Ferrari’s Rise: Schumacher’s Insight

Schumacher believes Hamilton will therefore need to focus more this year to move to Ferrari in top form. The good news for Hamilton is that the trajectory at Ferrari seems very upward with Vasseur at the helm.

“They are becoming more and more international. Hamilton has acknowledged that. The fact that Mercedes apparently had no interest in hiring him as a long-term brand ambassador probably hit him hard.”

“He lost confidence in Mercedes making changes. And apparently, it hurt his ego that Verstappen is now earning more than him.”

This will also be an important year for Charles Leclerc, who has a golden opportunity to position himself very strongly at Ferrari this year before being teamed up with Hamilton next year.

“Leclerc needs to perform consistently throughout a season, as he says himself,” Capelli added. “If he wins the title, which, I know, is an almost impossible scenario this year, it could change a lot in terms of relations with Hamilton.”

Wolff Leak Hamilton Ferrari. Wolff Leak Hamilton Ferrari

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