This is how Wolff wants to deal with Hamilton’s departure

Lewis Hamilton will leave for Ferrari at the end of next season, making one of the most coveted seats in Formula 1 available. The appeal of Mercedes is always great, even now that the team has been lagging behind for two years instead of being able to compete for championships.

Team boss Toto Wolff indicates that he will not make a hasty decision about Hamilton’s successor. Alex Albon is strongly linked to one move to Mercedes, while the names of Esteban Ocon, Carlos Sainz, Fernando Alonso and even Andrea Kimi Antonelli are also mentioned.

Wolff has a year to evaluate candidates for the vacant position. He has already announced that George Russell, now starting his third season with the team, will be the first driver. The man who should lead the team. “George has the potential to become the team’s next first driver. He is from the generation of Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc,” Wolff told media including RacingNews365. “I couldn’t ask for a better new team leader when Lewis leaves, there’s no doubt about that.”

Russell neck and neck with Hamilton

Pairing a new driver with Russell will be a challenge for Wolff, who indicates that he will take his time. “Russell has such a solid foundation, is such a fast, talented and intelligent guy in the car that we just have to make the right choice for the second seat,” said Wolff.

“It’s not something I want to do in a hurry. There have been a few contract extensions in recent weeks (Leclerc and Norris, ed.) that we would have looked at. That would have been interesting, but the timing has put us in a bit of a bind. abandoned.”

Wolff does not only see Hamilton’s departure as bad news. He also looks at the positives. “I always like change, because change gives you opportunities. I look forward to working with my colleagues to make the right decisions for the team, for who will be in the car next year. Maybe there is an opportunity to do something bold to do.”

He makes the comparison with the arrival of Russell as Bottas’s successor at Mercedes. “George in that seat has been great for the team. He has been neck and neck with Lewis for the last two seasons, there was no difference. Knowing that we have a driver of that level makes the decision for the second seat much more comfortable .”

Should it be a young, promising driver, or someone with a lot of experience? Wolff doesn’t know yet. “I haven’t thought carefully with the team yet whether we want to go for a rookie driver or an experienced driver, because I don’t know yet what is best for the team.”

Integrity Hamilton

Wolff does not expect that now that the news has become public that the 2024 season will be problematic with Hamilton driving for Mercedes, while he will be active for competitor Ferrari next season. “I think what I have always tried to do as team boss, and all of us at Mercedes, is to be transparent and honest. And in that respect nothing will change in 2024,” Wolff says convincingly. “We have to do that for our principles and our racing intention and we will respect that. And I’m sure the drivers will respect it too.”

When it comes to the 2025 car, Wolff is not concerned when asked about the potentially tricky situation that could arise with Hamilton. “When it comes to 2025, we will evaluate later in the season what it means in terms of technical information. But that’s not something I’m worried about. You know, we have technicians leaving us and going to other teams and notice periods are sometimes as short as six months.”

“I have no doubt about Lewis’ integrity when it comes to sharing information. We just want to make sure this is a successful season, a successful season for both drivers and a successful season for Mercedes.”

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