Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has admitted that he will have no hard feelings if Lewis Hamilton were to leave the team for a shot at winning his eighth Drivers’ World Championship.
Hamilton took a leap of faith when he joined Mercedes from McLaren in 2013, and the gamble paid massive dividends for both parties. Since then, the Briton has claimed 77 pole positions, 82 wins, 142 podiums, and six of his seven world championships with the Silver Arrows. However, it has not been smooth sailing for him and Mercedes since the regulation changes were introduced at the start of the 2022 F1 campaign.
Hamilton is also in the final year of his contract with the team. Wolff does not think the driver will walk away just yet but has revealed he will have no qualms if he decides to seek greener pastures when that deal runs out.
In an interview during the 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian GP weekend, where Sportskeeda was also present, the Austrian said:
“I don’t think that Lewis Hamilton will leave Mercedes. He’s at the stage of his career where we trust each other, we’ve formed a great bond among each other, we have no reason to doubt each other even though this is a difficult spell. So nice it will be when we come out of this valley of tears and come back to solid performances.”
Lewis Hamilton went without a single win or pole position in a season for the first time since his debut in 2007 while struggling to tame the Mercedes W13 last year. The situation does not appear to have been remedied with this year’s W14, which is well off the pace compared to the Red Bull RB19.
Wolff has admitted that the team will need to rethink the direction they take in terms of car development to try and keep up with the frontrunners on the grid. He believes this could factor into Hamilton’s decision-making.
Wolff went on to add:
“As a driver, if he [Lewis Hamilton] wants to win another championship, he needs to make sure that he has the car, and if we cannot demonstrate that we can give him the car in the next couple of years then he needs to look everywhere – I don’t think that he’s at that stage but I would have no grouch if that happens in a year or two.”
“I don’t plan on going anywhere else” – Lewis Hamilton reiterates his intentions to remain with Mercedes
Despite the constant speculation surrounding his future at Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton claims that he wants to remain with the Silver Arrows and has complete faith in the team.
In an interview where he called Mercedes his family, he said:
“I still have 100 per cent belief in this team, it is my family and I’ve been here a long time, so I don’t plan on going anywhere else.”
The 38-year-old also revealed that there are no clauses connected to performance on the track. He explained:
“There are no performance clauses. We are in talks, just in the process of going through the motions of what that looks like, what the future looks like, what we want to do. (We are) always looking to continuously challenge ourselves rather than just doing a driver’s contract like everyone does. What can we do? We did the Ignite partnership last year on how we can promote diversity within the sport, just exploring different avenues and what else we can do.”
Lewis Hamilton reiterated his loyalty to Mercedes, with whom he has forged a fruitful partnership. He concluded:
“I’m fully integrated within Mercedes-Benz. I’ve been with them for such a long time, since I was 13, so I’m very proud of the brand and the business, what they do, what they stand for and the impact they have throughout the world, but you can always do more, so discussions are around what else we can do together to lift people up.”
If the rumor mill is to be believed, the Briton could be offered a contract worth £62 million ($74.6 million) a season, making him the highest-paid driver on the grid.