Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was equally as surprised, as he heard the rumours that this could happen just a few days ahead of the official announcement.
Then on Wednesday, during their previously scheduled meeting, Lewis told him the news directly. Toto explains how he reacted.
“When he told me the reaction was pragmatic,” the Austrian said.
“When are we communicating this: ‘What are the pressure points, how are we managing this season going forward, and what is it we’re going to do in terms of driver line-up?’ says Wolff.
“There was that Mercedes mind, the team’s mind kicked in. Now, having slept a few nights on it, it means that our professional journey comes to an end, working together.
“But it doesn’t mean our personal relationship ends. I’ve found a friend, we’ve built a relationship over the last 10 years.
If you like SilverArrows.Net, consider supporting us by buying us a coffee!
“And he faced a very, very difficult situation: taking a decision of where to drive – maybe for the first time in 10 years without being able to brainstorm with me.
“I will always respect the difficulty of the situation he faced, and in the future we will discuss whether this could have been done in a different way or not. But I hold no grudge.”
Since the two of them are also close friends, Toto was asked if he was hurt by Lewis’ decision.
“It doesn’t hurt, because I need to keep the calm and decide how we’re going to best manage the 2024 season and what the decisions need to be going forward.
“It’s not like someone that I like a lot is disappearing, it’s just changing the team. We’ve been very conscious in signing the contract that it could happen.
“Maybe the timing was a surprise, but I’ve had many black swans swimming in front of me, the unexpected.
“And I think in F1 it’s all about agility, being able to embrace change of circumstances,” Wolff concluded.