Lewis Hamilton shocked the racing world when he announced on Thursday that he would exercise a previously unknown clause in his Mercedes contract to exit the team after the 2024 season, opening up the door for a move to Ferrari in 2025. Apparently, that news was also a surprise to Mercedes F1 boss and mid-level reality TV celebrity Toto Wolff.
As Wolff tells the Associated Press, Hamilton informed him of the decision just one day before he told the world. While Wolff says that he had heard rumors that the switch was possible days earlier, he did not know until the conversation on Wednesday. Just a day later, Hamilton had officially exercised the out in his Mercedes contract and signed the deal with Ferrari. Both transactions have already been officially announced.
Wolff goes on to say that he immediately accepted Hamilton's resignation and did not try to convince him to stay. He adds that a move like this was a known risk for the team when the program signed Hamilton to a shorter-term deal.
"We knew that by signing a short-term contract, it could be of benefit for both sides," Wolff says. "We couldn’t commit for a longer period and he is taking the option to exit. We totally respect that you can change your mind, it’s different circumstances."
Hamilton still has an entire season to run with Wolff's Mercedes AMG F1 before he moves to Ferrari in 2025. Similarly, Wolff has a full year to find Hamilton's replacement.
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