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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Mercedes knew dangers of leaving exit clause in Hamilton F1 contract

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Because the German producer involves phrases with Hamilton’s shock decision to join Ferrari from 2025, it’s nicely conscious that the brand new two-year deal it agreed with the seven-time champion final 12 months had flexibility on each side to be terminated as early as the top of this season.

It’s understood that this was a compromise association to offer each events a level of motion for 2025 in case performances weren’t as anticipated by way of 2024.

Whereas this meant Mercedes had the liberty it needed to pursue one other driver if it felt prefer it didn’t wish to proceed with Hamilton, equally it knew that it might lose the seven-time champion if he elected to look elsewhere.

And that’s precisely what occurred after Hamilton signed for Ferrari lately and informed team boss Toto Wolff this week in a face-to-face meeting that he was making use of his present contract’s exit clause.

Talking to chose media on Friday, Wolff stated Mercedes was not blind to the door being open for Hamilton to go away – however equally admitted the crew had not been final 12 months in committing to him any longer.

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Reflecting on the modified circumstances that prompted Hamilton’s departure, Wolff stated: “We had been very aligned once we went into the Christmas interval. We have stated that in public and within the crew. You have to ask Lewis why he modified his thoughts.

“How he framed it to me is completely comprehensible – that he wanted a brand new problem, that he was on the lookout for a distinct atmosphere, and that it was perhaps the final chance to do one thing else.

Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, discuss after the race

Photograph by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

“We’re large boys, we knew that by signing a short-term contract, it may very well be of profit for each side.

“We could not commit for an extended interval, and he is taken the choice to exit. We completely respect that you would be able to change your thoughts. There’s completely different circumstances. Switching to Ferrari, perhaps for the final gig in his profession, perhaps rolling the cube a bit. I can observe that call.”

Wolff reckoned that Ferrari’s eagerness to offer Hamilton a long-term contract, one thing Mercedes couldn’t, was an essential aspect in convincing him to maneuver groups.

“I feel perhaps one of many concerns was the chance to signal a long-term contract with Ferrari and provides it a extremely large go on the finish of his profession,” added Wolff.

“We did not discuss whether or not the chance was higher there or with us, as a result of I do not assume you’ll be able to say.

“On the finish of the day, he’s essentially the most profitable driver. We have had a sensational spell and journey collectively and that is one thing that may go down within the historical past books, and in addition the Mercedes historical past books.”

Timing is a shock

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, with Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, with Toto Wolff, Group Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG

Photograph by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Wolff is nicely conscious that Hamilton/Ferrari rumours have been effervescent away for some time, and stated that it was finally not a shock that the British driver had been lured by the Italian crew.

Evaluation: How Hamilton’s exit could leave the Mercedes F1 team in a tough spot

Nonetheless, what did catch him out was the sudden timing of all of it, with Wolff solely discovering out throughout a pre-arranged assembly with the motive force at his Oxford home on Wednesday morning.

“The shock was that I might heard the rumours a few days earlier, however needed to attend for the breakfast we had deliberate,” he stated. “And it was Wednesday morning, that is when he broke the information.

“You already know with me, you might be very easy, as a result of I am easy too. So, as soon as he stated that is what I am attempting to do, that was the actual fact. I did not attempt to persuade him in any other case.

“However simply look ahead: okay, what are we doing about communications? What is the timing? How will we shield the crew greatest? And the way will we shield this 2024 12 months to achieve success along with our two drivers with out inflicting an excessive amount of awkwardness?”

Requested of Hamilton’s determination had damage him, Wolff stated: “No, it would not damage as a result of I have to hold the calm and resolve how we’ll greatest handle the 2024 season and what the choices must be going ahead.

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“It isn’t like somebody that I like loads is disappearing. He is simply altering crew, and we have been very aware in signing the contract that it might occur.

“Possibly the timing was a shock, however I’ve had many black swans swimming in entrance of me, the surprising. And I feel in F1, it is all about agility and having the ability to embrace change of circumstances.”

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