Lewis Hamilton dismissed reports of Toto Wolff stepping in to to intervene in the battle between him and George Russell during the 2023 Japanese GP. Speaking to media, including Sportskeeda, ahead of the 2023 Qatar GP, the Briton stated some of the media reports about the Austrian’s actions were incorrect.
After the two Mercedes drivers battled fiercely during the race in Suzuka, there were reports suggesting that the duo needed intervention via a call from their boss who was recovering from a knee surgery. Lewis Hamilton explained the virtual involvement of his boss during team meetings, who was absent for the second race weekend in a row. The Briton dismissed the incorrect reports and confirmed Wolff’s involvement in the team despite his absence.
Asked about what a race weekend is like in Wolff’s absence, Lewis Hamilton said:
“Toto is in every meeting. I saw someone wrote the other day that he had to call in or something for the last race. It was BS. Toto even though he is not here perhaps, he’s obviously devastated that he can’t be here. He’s part of every single meeting, he dials in to the meeting today, he’ll dial into the meeting tomorrow morning, he’ll be in the meeting in the afternoon.”
He’s on the comms just like the guys back at the factory who are on the comms for strategy on the weekend. He’s one hundred percent a part, he’s just not physically there in the country. He’s a part of those meetings, he speaks in those meetings just as he normally does when he’s here.”
Hamilton reiterated Wolff’s integral role in taking the team to the level they are today and had every right to take time off to recover. He said:
“He’s worked incredibly hard to setup this team to be where it is today, and he should be able to have weekends off without a problem, he’s the boss. Should he fire the team up, taking weekends off, thats not how he’s taken the weekend off, you know what I mean. He has the right to if he wanted to, just cause he’s recovering. I just tell him we’ll be pushing. I just always tell him ‘don’t worry, you’ve set up a great team, we’ll try and do you proud this weekend’. That’s all I do.”
According to Lewis Hamilton, Wolff will be heavily involved through the hourly proceedings of the race weekend as he recovers. The Austrian has been replaced by Jerome D’Ambrosio, who is the head of driver development at their team and a former race driver. The Mercedes boss had suffered a cycling injury during the summer break this year, where he fractured his elbow.
Lewis Hamilton explains close rapport with Toto Wolff off-track
Lewis Hamilton said that he shares an extremely close and friendly rapport with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff off-track. The Briton claimed the duo spend a lot of time together in Monaco and share a close camaraderie. The 38-year-old champion feels his partnership with the Austrian has been one of the most successful ones in the sport, in terms of achievements and rapport.
Asked how often he is in touch with Wolff, Lewis Hamilton explained:
“Toto and I are in contact every week all the time. We are good friends, very very good friends, we’re teammates. So we do a lot of talking about cars. We hang when I’m back home, we hang out we have lunch and we talk a lot about I’m always trying to learn from Toto as a businessman and he’s always massively supportive.”
“You are going to see some things that will shift over the next four or five months or some things over the next year maybe. But I think you’ve already seen my progress, he’s been such a huge part of that and allowed me to be who I am. Together we’ve unlocked so much, we’ve done so much more than any other partnership that you’ve seen in the sport on many levels.”
Crediting some of his progress in the last two seasons to Wolff, Lewis Hamilton believes the Austrian has played an integral role and has been a supportive figure to him both on and off track. The Briton’s relationship with the Mercedes boss has evolved over the decade as they’ve witnessed highs and lows with the team. Although there is no confirmation from the team on when the 51-year-old will return trackside, he is expected to be back in the F1 paddock by the Austin GP.
Edited by Siddharth Dhananjay