Wolff may have leaked Hamilton-Ferrari news – Capelli

Wed, 28 February 2024, 09:00

Feb.28 (GMM) Lewis Hamilton’s situation at Mercedes this year could be even more awkward than previously assumed.

It emerges that the seven time world champion, and his new team for 2025, Ferrari, may actually have wanted their new pairing to remain a secret for the whole of this season.

“It was a move by Toto Wolff against Hamilton and Ferrari,” alleges former F1 driver Ivan Capelli. “It burned an announcement that was supposed to be made during the season,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

It’s an eye-catching claim, especially as Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur became increasingly frustrated with constant questions about Hamilton last week in Bahrain.

“We have to slowly put the subject of Hamilton to bed, please,” he told reporters. “We should now concentrate fully on the upcoming season.

“I’ll be happy to talk about Hamilton when the 2025 season approaches.”

Hamilton himself has also now alluded to the suspicion that it must have been Wolff – still his boss for the entirety of 2024 – who initially leaked the Ferrari news after hearing it directly from the 39-year-old driver’s mouth.

“I didn’t speak to anybody,” he said on a BBC podcast. “I didn’t even tell my parents until the day of it being announced. So, no one knew.”

With the news now out, perhaps prematurely, it makes for a particularly awkward relationship between Hamilton, Wolff and the rest of the Mercedes team this year.

And it could get even worse if it’s true that Mercedes is lagging behind not only Red Bull but also Ferrari and perhaps even Aston Martin with its 2024 car.

“From my point of view, the tests were a bit sobering, at least from what we saw,” former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher said.

Wolff, on the other hand, now has plenty of time to assess the options for Hamilton’s 2025 replacement. “If (George) Russell can’t become the new number 1, it will be an even bigger problem because then Toto will have to find another number 1,” said Schumacher.

“And they don’t just fall out of the tree in Formula 1. Carlos Sainz, maybe, but without wanting to be unfair, I don’t think you can really compare him with Max or Lewis.

“I see the biggest potential problems at Mercedes this year,” Schumacher told Bild newspaper. “The two (Hamilton and Russell) don’t get on at all. And Hamilton no longer has the team’s full protection.

“The king’s status is gone. Russell will want to use this to his advantage. But I’m worried that Lewis decided to leave. It suggests that not everything is set for success at the moment.

“It could also get particularly exciting within the team if the rumours are true and two engineers could move to Ferrari with him.”

Schumacher thinks Hamilton, therefore, will have to sharpen his focus this year in order to switch to Ferrari in top form. “What he wears on Thursdays shouldn’t be his priority,” he said.

The good news for Hamilton, Ralf said, is that the trajectory at Ferrari appears to be on an upward swing with Vasseur at the helm.

“They are increasingly becoming more international again,” he said. “Hamilton recognised this. The fact that Mercedes apparently had no interest in hiring him as a long-term brand ambassador probably hit him hard.

“He has lost faith that Mercedes will turn things around. And apparently it hurt his ego that Verstappen earned more than him now.”

It’s also going to be a big year for Charles Leclerc, who has a golden opportunity to perhaps position himself very strongly at Ferrari this year ahead of being paired with Hamilton next year.

“He (Leclerc) needs to perform more consistently throughout a season, which he says so himself,” Capelli explained. “If he wins the title, which I realise is an almost impossible scenario this year, that could change a lot in terms of relations with Hamilton.”

You may also like