Toto Wolff insists he “will have no grouch” if Lewis Hamilton looks to leave Mercedes in the coming years if the team doesn’t deliver another championship-contending car quickly enough.
Hamilton is out of contract at the end of this season and in recent weeks has been more critical of Mercedes’ approach to the latest set of aerodynamic regulations, after he failed to win a race last season and the team was well off the pace to start 2023. Team principal Wolff (pictured above, with Hamilton) believes the success they have enjoyed together makes it unlikely that Hamilton won’t sign a new deal but admits that the seven-time world champion won’t wait forever for a more competitive car.
“I don’t think that Lewis will leave Mercedes,” Wolff said. “He’s at the stage of a career where we trust each other, we have formed the great bond among each other and we have no reason to doubt each other, even though this is a difficult spell. But so nice it will be when we come out of this valley of tears, and come back to solid performances.
“As a driver, nevertheless, if he wants to win another championship, he needs to make sure that he has the car. And if we cannot demonstrate that we’re able to give him a car in the next couple of years, then he needs to look everywhere. I don’t think he’s doing it at this stage, but I will have no grouch if that happens in a year or two.”
Following the disappointment of Bahrain, Hamilton claimed Mercedes hadn’t listened to him on certain topics when it came to car development, but Wolff says there were no hard feelings even prior to the driver backtracking slightly at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
“We speak all the time, but it’s not a single word that matters in the team because we know each other so well. We know there are emotions at play with him, with me, with many others in the team and that we wear our hearts on our sleeves, and sometimes you say things that in the media being very quickly translated in a controversial way or polarizing — which, inside of the team, never cause any waves because we know that the emotions can run high.
“And to be honest, if I’m watching a lap time deficit, a coming together or a race that doesn’t go well, I’d also like to say that I’m not happy where the team, where the car has been developed to. But that’s OK inside of the team — we want the emotion high and we have tough love, we are saying it straight out when it’s missing and nobody’s ever going to not take it on the chin in the team.”