Wolff refuses to contemplate Hamilton quitting Mercedes

Could Lewis Hamilton quit Mercedes at the end of this season?

Could Lewis Hamilton quit Mercedes at the end of this season?

Toto Wolff is refusing to entertain the notion Lewis Hamilton could quit Mercedes at the end of the year following the team’s surprising start to the new F1 season.

After a strong end to the 2022 campaign, with George Russell winning the penultimate race in São Paulo, it was expected Mercedes would again be pushing Red Bull and Ferrari for the titles this year.

But the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix at the weekend painted a gloomy picture for the team, with questions again raised over the concept of its car as Hamilton finished 51 seconds behind race-winner and reigning champion Max Verstappen.

In a post-race interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, Hamilton suggested Mercedes did not listen to him about the direction required for this year’s W14 and the issues that needed addressing.

The comments of the seven-time champion have now raised doubts as to whether he will renew a contract with the team that expires at the end of the year.

“It will be much too easy to lose a driver and then just throw in the white towel,” said Wolff. “We’re not doing that.

“On the contrary, we just need to really dig deep, deeper than we’ve ever done, and provide both drivers with a car they are able to fight with.”

Does Mercedes have a plan B should Hamilton exit?

Highlighting the role Hamilton continues to play in driving the team forward, Wolff added: “You heard him on the radio.

“He is an integral part of the team, picking the team up and we are all sticking together.

“I don’t think that is going to change just because we had another start (to a season) that was really bad.

“We have won eight constructors’ championships and six drivers’ championships with him and that relationship holds.”

As to whether there is a plan B should Hamilton inform Wolff he has no intention of continuing, the Austrian is refusing to get drawn into even contemplating such a possibility at the present time.

“As much as I’m being transparent as to how we need to turn the car around, it is not the point to talk about the driver situation in 2024,” insisted Wolff. “That is far too early.

“We all need to push in the same direction – the drivers, the engineers, management, all of us – rather than throwing in the towel.

“We have never done that and we will not do it.”

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