Hamilton plans awkward 2025 talks with Toto Wolff

"I’m not quite sure how to navigate it"


5 April 2024 - 14:23
Hamilton plans awkward 2025 talks (...)

Lewis Hamilton is shaping up to have an awkward "conversation" with his current Formula 1 boss, Toto Wolff.

The seven time world champion is leaving Mercedes at the end of the year, but Hamilton is already eager to kick off 2025 preparations with his new team - Ferrari.

"At some stage I will have to start the conversation with Toto," the 39-year-old admitted at Suzuka. "I’ve never been in this position at this time of the year.

"So I’m not quite sure how to navigate it but right now I want to finish on a high here so all my energy is going into this. Of course there’s excitement for the future."

Some believe Hamilton is struggling to maintain motivation as Mercedes has given him an uncompetitive car for the third consecutive season.

"I’m a competitor first and foremost so I want to win," he said. "Thinking about next year is not going to help me do that."

But it’s no real surprise that George Russell, who is effectively inheriting top billing at Mercedes, is currently ahead of Hamilton - and upbeat about the future.

"I think we all get our chance at some point," Russell told AFP.

However, he thinks that chance might not come until 2026, when Red Bull will switch to its own engines in collaboration with Ford and Mercedes has another chance to ace the all-new regulations.

"I am 100 percent convinced that the new regulations in 2026 will allow Mercedes to return to the top because the change will be more fundamental than 2022 and there will be a lot of performance to be had with the new engine," said Russell.

"With Mercedes’ experience, I can’t wait for 2026."

Russell is also not too upset that Hamilton is moving on, as he thinks "change is sometimes good" for a great team like Mercedes in difficult times.

"He’s done so many great things," Russell said of Hamilton, "he’s been here for so long and we’re kind of stuck at the moment.

"So I think this change is positive for him and positive for Mercedes because it gives us the possibility of starting from a clean sheet."

Rumours linking Max Verstappen with an early switch to Mercedes next year, despite his Red Bull contract through 2026, might therefore be regarded as strategic for the Dutchman in light of the incoming new rules.

Fernando Alonso, perhaps first in line to replace Verstappen at Red Bull, said on Thursday that he thinks the realistic chance the Dutchman will give up his top seat for 2025 is "zero".

"It all depends on if I want to also drive next year or not, you know," Verstappen joked at Suzuka - a reference to Alonso’s own explanation about his delayed decision about 2025.

"But from my side, no, I’m very happy where I am," said the triple world champion. "And, yeah, we want to keep it that way."

But even Adrian Newey, Red Bull’s celebrated design mind, is currently being linked with Aston Martin - who will inherit Red Bull’s works Honda engines from 2026.

"I hope we can stay together," Verstappen is quoted by the Dutch publication Formule 1. "But if someone wants to leave, you cannot always stop that.

"I haven’t talked to him about it and I don’t know what’s going on either - and I don’t care. I don’t feel like reading all about it.

"It is other people’s job to make the car fast, but I would like for him to stay obviously."

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