Toto Wolff says Hamilton’s Mercedes exit could “provide opportunity”

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Although Mercedes boss Toto Wolff hopes the team’s “relationship” with Lewis Hamilton continues, he says his exit could “provide opportunity”.

Lewis Hamilton’s contract with Mercedes expires at the end of 2020 and unsurprisingly the media is speculating on when the 35-year-old will decide retire from Formula 1. Add to this the persistent rumours that Hamilton might decide to jump ship to Ferrari and it’s obvious why the possibility of Hamilton leaving the successful Mercedes partnership is very intriguing to the media.

However it’s not the first time such a situation happened at Mercedes. At the end of 2016, newly crowned world champion Nico Rosberg surprisingly decided to hang up his racing gloves and retire from the sport.

Toto Wolff believes the situation, as bad as in seemed on paper, provided the team with an opportunity to improve their team dynamics by hiring Valtteri Bottas, who enjoys a much “easier” relationship with Lewis Hamilton.

“I think that a sports team is not static,” Wolff said.

“It’s a dynamic structure. That means there is always going to be some change, and change is something that can also provide opportunity.

“I know that sounds like a little bit of philosophical guru talk, but when Nico decided to quit, my initial reaction was actually the opportunity provided to us, and I think that the choice with Valtteri proved to be the right choice.

“So, I still very much hope that our [Wolff, Hamilton and Mercedes] relationship continues, but I am not totally in control of that, so, if one important member breaks out, that provides certainly, risk and opportunity at the same time.

“There is no doubt that Lewis is a very strong pillar within the team.

“I think that the values within the team are that morality and integrity is absolutely number one on the list. And, understanding Lewis’ position and objectives will be key for any decision that we take.

“So, we will not embark on a fishing mission with potential drivers out there before Lewis and I – Lewis and us, we will have had that conversation. We are having a consensual relationship. We’ve talked very openly about retirement, and what the brand represents.

“But I think as long as we are able to produce a quick car, and a powerful engine, we will always have opportunity to decide who drives the car. And I think there will be no doubt that Lewis is our priority.

“We’ve tried to make it work with the team. And I have tried to make it work with Lewis.

“But the most important is that we have a good car,” concluded the Austrian.


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