Wolff says he has no concerns about potentially having to block the flow of information on future development to Hamilton, suggesting that it’s too early to make a call on how that process might work.
Logic suggests that Hamilton will henceforth be frozen out of any discussions on 2026, when the new F1 regulations come in.
However, inevitably there will be a crossover between development work undertaken to improve this year’s W15 and the design process for next year’s W16, when Hamilton will be at rival Ferrari.
“I think what I’ve always tried to do as a team principal, and all of us at Mercedes, is to be transparent, and fair,” said Wolff. “And nothing’s going to change in that respect in 2024.
“We owe it to our principles and our racing intent, how we go about, and we will respect that. And I will be sure that the drivers will respect it.
“In terms of the development going forward, I think this is something which we need to look at. The regulations stay pretty much the same. And when it comes to 2025, we will evaluate later in the season what it means in terms of technical information, but that’s not something that bothers me at all.
“We have engineers that leave us and go to other teams and the notice periods are sometimes as short as six months.
“So I don’t have any doubt in Lewis’ integrity, in terms of sharing information. And in that respect, we want to make sure that this is a successful season for both drivers, and a successful season for Mercedes, and all of us will give our utmost to achieve that.”
Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG
Photo by: James Sutton / Motorsport Images
Wolff suggested that he’ll enjoy the extra challenge associated with juggling the flow of information to a driver who is leaving the team.
“Definitely a new situation to manage, for followers of the team,” he said. “But it is something that when you focus on the really short term, and this is the racing team that’s being deployed to run the product, that doesn’t have a big impact on everything that’s happening going forward on the development side.
“I’m always interested in new and challenging situations, and balancing 2024 Mercedes interests versus 2025 driver interests is something that we will openly discuss at the beginning, how to manage that, and for sure come to a good outcome between us.”
Wolff insisted that the coming season has priority over any thoughts about filling Hamilton’s seat in 2025.
“First our main focus is on the 2024 season now,” he said. “We’ve got two excellent drivers. We have Lewis in his final year at Mercedes, and George eager to go back in the car and perform.
“We need to put a car on the track that has more pace than last year’s car, and we know how difficult it will be to compete not only with Red Bull, but possibly the other ones.
“[With] all the Lewis discussion, something that has not been talked enough is George. George has the potential to be the next lead driver in the team.
“He’s of the generation of Lando [Norris] and [Charles] Leclerc and some of the others. I couldn’t wish for a [better] new team leader when Lewis leaves. No doubt about that.
“We’ve such a solid foundation, such a quick and talented and intelligent guy in a car that we just need to take the right choice for the second driver, the second seat.”