Hamilton concerned Mercedes “could go the wrong way” without Wolff

2019 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton says his decision whether to continue with Mercedes beyond the end of the 2020 F1 season will be influenced by whether team principal Toto Wolff remains in his role.

Hamilton and Wolff’s contracts with the team expire at the end of next year. As RaceFans revealed in May, Wolff is a potential target for Liberty Media, who may wish to place him in the CEO role currently held by joint chairman and CEO Chase Carey.

Wolff did not attend the last round of the championship in Brazil, which was the first race he has missed since 2013. Hamilton is concerned how Mercedes would fare if Wolff left for good.

“It’s a difficult one because I’m always supportive of everyone within my team,” he said. “I know that being stuck in a position for too long can also not always be positive.

“So I always want people to constantly spread their wings and do what is best for their careers. I don’t know what that is for him. He will know.

“But I also know that the as a figurehead of a business, you’ve got to have the right people in place. He is and has been the right person, he has been the perfect match. So naturally I don’t want him to leave, particularly if I’m staying in the sport. But again, ultimately, that’s going to be his choice.

“If you look at some places, what has been built will continue for a period of time. But then a new person that comes in will then start doing things their way and, most likely, more often or not, could go the wrong way.

“But again, this team is not one person. It’s a huge group of people. And they’re not going to be leaving, in general, so they will still be able to do the job they do. That is important for me.”

Hamilton added Wolff’s decision will play a role in determining his own future at the team. “I’m waiting also to see where he is, where his head is at.

“The sport could also be in a good place with someone like him running it. But I don’t know if that’s more of a fun experience as opposed to in a team and winning. But again, that’s down to him.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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31 comments on “Hamilton concerned Mercedes “could go the wrong way” without Wolff”

  1. Ok, that suprised me so If Wolff is leaving Mercedess Lewis is not continue?

  2. I’d go for Wolff if I was leading Liberty Media.

    That man has his F1 speech under control. I can imagine press conferences. AND, if Mercedes looses just a tiny bit of performance, has some more drama, F1 will be in a good place.

    Imagine Mercedes this year were 0.5% slower? Right now we would have a title battle. Title battle between Hamilton, Verstapen, Vettel, Leclerc. Not necessarily in that order. Just imagine?

    F1 would be in a good place.

    1. @jureo I am a bit mixed. In a sense I also believe Wolff would be a great fit but in the other hand I also thought Brown would be and it didn’t turn out as expected.
      I believe the new rules is a step in the good direction but there was also a lot of gimmick suggested.
      Makes you wonder what is the possible impact of a single person within FIA and liberty structures.

  3. Cristiano Ferreira
    27th November 2019, 8:43

    Seems like he is keen to continue in his “Easy Mode” type of racing, instead of pursuing the challenge to lead the team in the right way after Wolff leaves.

    So where did he intend to go? Ferrari is in disarray and he will never have an easy life with the likes of VET or LEC staying there. Red Bull i think will never sign him, and Renault is a complete mess and its more likely it will leave the sport after 2020 if things goes really bad.

    McLaren is not championship material yet, so that leaves Mercedes as his only choice.

    1. Staying in “easy mode” is not his fault. Merc has dominated (just as other teams have done in the past) so why would you blame HAM for staying? Are you blaming all the other greats who stayed with winning teams too?

      1. Cristiano Ferreira
        28th November 2019, 1:16

        Ham have always drived the best cars in his career, so yes, he is in easy mode since his debut. Other drivers did miracles in cars that are far from the ones Hamilton had the privilege to drive until now. Of course it’s not his fault but its not like he is after a challenge too.

    2. TheFlyingCzechman
      27th November 2019, 14:02

      Who wouldnt want to continue with the “easy mode”. Mercedes has a clear direction under Toto, very little drama in the team and everything is going smoothly. Lewis can focus on his racing and other responsibilities within the team without having to worry about press drama, team drama and other unnecessary things.
      How I understand this is that if Toto stays, he is more than likely staying too, if Toto wont stay, Lewis will explore his options.

    3. I think McLaren might be a 2021 destination if Hamilton wins the 2020 WDC and Toto leaves. He and Toto would likely work in harmony on this as the partners they have become. McLaren is the perfect landing for Hamilton and I do not think an 8th WDC could be more meaningful than with McLaren to cement his GOAT legacy. They have a year to figure out power configurations and they have a chassis.

    4. The situation hamilton is in at mercedes is really the dream for a lot of racing drivers. Unbeatable car. It is totally unseen in history for a team to dominate this long but at the same time it is the dream for any driver to be THE driver in THAT team. None of it hamilton’s fault and it is not his obligation to fix it either.

      1. @socksolid I think we overrating the Mercedes car a bit too much. Yes Mercedes engine are league ahead from 2014-2016, as shown by all their customer teams are easily ahead of other non works teams. However since 2017 Mercedes car and engine is far from unbeatable. In fact they’re beaten a lot. Customer teams steadily fallen in the WCC order, Williams car weakness brutally exposed now they don’t have the engine advantage. Bottas only managed to secure 2nd position in WDC this year and we know it could go wrong quickly if not series of Ferrari blunder earlier this year. Qualifying wise, since 2018, Hamilton needs to fight hard to get the pole, not easily cruising as previous years. How many times Bottas start in second or third row? Heck this year we’ve seen no Mercedes in front row few times.

        Will any top tier driver win WDC in Mercedes? Maybe. Will any driver win WDC in Mercedes? Definitely not. Mercedes is far from unbeatable. Hamilton played a big role that makes it seems Mercedes double champion from 2017-2019 looks like a piece of cake.

        1. I think you are under estimating how good mercedes has been. Most of the time the biggest threat to hamilton has been his team mate. Qualifying is also small part of the weekend and I think it is a bit surprising fact that it is actually leclerc who has most poles this year. And bottas has more poles than hamilton so I don’t really get your point about bottas’ 3rd rows..

          What matters is the race and there mercedes has won 14 races this year already out of 20. From 2017-2019 mercedes has still had the best car even if at times not fastest on every weekend or not by big margin better to the 2nd best. Ferrari has had its good moments and red bull has won some races but it has always been the mercedes they have had to beat and more often than not mercedes has beaten them. Could hamilton have won any championships in any other car from 2014-2019? Maybe… maybe once?

          1. @socksolid Bottas have more poles but often not in front row is exactly telling that the car is not unbeatable machine as every one like to think. Qualifying shows the true raw pace of the car that why it’s still an important metric even though it doesn’t have big part in deciding the championship. Without Ferrari suiciding within themselves, I really doubt Bottas will end this season P2 in the WDC. How many times he just lagging the top 3? Not that Bottas is bad, when he’s on his day, he can truly be quick and unbeatable as he has shown more than once this year. But I’m willing to bet if Bottas paired with another second tier driver, Mercedes will lose WDC in 2018 and 2019, probably to Hamilton that driving a car on Ferrari or Red Bull performance.

      2. Cristiano Ferreira
        28th November 2019, 1:23

        MSC did fix Ferrari and drove the team to success. I’m pretty sure Hamilton could try to do the same, in terms to guide the team if Wolff leaves. That’s why i consider MSC an GOAT instead of HAM.

        1. MSC did not fix ferrari. MSC worked hard but ferrari had lots of top talent on all ladders of their operation and together they fixed the team. One man can not make it happen.

    5. Thats not what he said he’s talking about team harmony. The team has been so successful so of course he’s afraid of something changing.

    6. There’s a saying: win at the slowest speed possible. So why not win the easiest way possible? Making things difficult is stupid if you can make them easy. If you need to make things difficult to feel good then go for it. I’ll keep looking for the easiest way thank you.

  4. To really fit in at Ferrari you need to learn Italian, well enough not only to talk technically to the engineers but to socialise with the team. I do not see Lewis doing that.

    No if Toto leaves Merc I think Lewis will retire. It would be great to see him set up a low cost kids karting program. He was saying on tv last week (Graham Norton Show) that the way he got into racing is no longer possible, because it has been made so much more expensive and that it is now the province of kids with rich families. One only has too look at the F2/3/4 series to see how the whole structure is geared to make money for FOM.

    1. Not sure who it was, could have been John Surtees, but the quote was …. “If you drive for Ferrari, sometimes it is best if you don’t speak Italian”.

    2. Kimi spoke no Italian and won them a world championship.
      These days drivers talk too much.

      1. Kimi spoke no language at all. Ever.

  5. I get a feeling that things are starting to unravel a bit in the silver garage. I never thought they would sign the contract with McLaren just to get a competitive rival, they might be thinking about a right investor to take over Brackley. Maybe even negiotiating.

    And Wolff, in case Mercedes really leaves F1 as a works team, would be one of the better choices. F1 needs someone who would tame the big teams a bit.

    1. That a bit dramatic – Mercedes unravel ?

      A better question to ask is wheter Toto’s contract is up for renewal? Is this him presenting possible alternatives as he waits to negotiations with Mercedes. Is this Hamilton helping him in that endevor, knowing they are linked as a joint package for the forseeable future? I’m sure there will be other preassures on Toto, forces beyond the sport to guide his decision.

      Hamilton wants that record, the next title. He’ll have seen the improvements at Redbull for one, He’ll have felt the managed challenge of Bottas this season, and know it wont be as easy in the coming seasons. Of course he wants a familer head in control.

      God forbid Mercesdes has someone new leading them, only to set up the same ‘inter garage frictions’ that we presently see in the Ferrari camp.

      1. Toto is a 30% shareholder at mercedes f1 team. He can almost write his own contracts and do whatever he wants with renewals.

  6. If I am not mistaken I saw Toto in the Formula E season opener. Mercedes has decent results in the first race. Its a new project and there is a degree of focus from all German car makers on electric vehicles. But a team cannot progress depending on one person. In fact with championships in the bag in F1, it is the perfect opportunity for the team to test the mettle of strategic decision makers in the team. I think strategy will play a big part next year.

    1. @pinakghosh Isn’t his wife Susie Team Principal of one of the other teams (Venturi?)? That would be a good reason to be there.

  7. More worried about FOM/F1 when Wolff enters than about Mercedes without him.

  8. Iv’e no idea. I’ll find a honky with tattoos and ask him why he is so desperate to sit in the sun all day just to darken his skin.

  9. You found one, Vitamin D, good for old farts bones… :)
    @Happy Thanksgiving all!

  10. No because white ink is terrible in tattoos regardless of base skin tone

  11. Toto and Lewis in Ferrari ?

    imagine that…

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