Toto Wolff comments on Lewis Hamilton joining rival team

Lewis Hamilton's current contract with Mercedes expires at the end of 2023, with some having since linked the Briton to Ferrari.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has sensationally revealed that seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton will “need to look elsewhere” if the Silver Arrows are unable to return to winning ways, with the Germans currently looking set for another frustrating season.

Hamilton’s contract situation has been a huge talking point ahead of this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with some have suggested that the 38-year-old is putting off an extension until Mercedes show signs of improvement.

Whilst the driver has since rejected the claims, Wolff has now admitted himself that whilst he doesn’t believe Hamilton will leave Mercedes this season, he could go to a rival side if the Germans don’t give him a winning car.

“I don’t think that Lewis will leave Mercedes,” Wolff said after FP1 in Saudi Arabia.

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“He’s at the stage of his career where we trust each other, we’ve formed a great bond among each other, we have no reason to doubt each other even though this is a difficult spell.

“So nice it will be when we come out of this valley of tears and come back to solid performances.

“As a driver, if he wants to win another championship, he needs to make sure that he has the car, and if we cannot demonstrate that we can give him the car in the next couple of years then he needs to look everywhere – I don’t think that he’s at that stage but I would have no grouch if that happens in a year or two.”

Mercedes were expected to start 2023 with a bang and show an immediate response to their woeful 2022 campaign, where they slumped to third in the standings.

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The complete opposite happened at the Bahrain Grand Prix, though, with Hamilton and George Russell having finished fifth and seventh.

To make matters worse, Hamilton was almost a second a lap slower than winner Max Verstappen, who boasted a similar advantage over Mercedes on the opening day of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

In frustration of the situation, Hamilton shared his disappointment in the team, who he stated “didn’t listen” to his feedback in order to improve the car.

Hamilton admitted ahead of Saudi Arabia that his “choice of words” after Bahrain weren’t the “best”, with some having wondered if Wolff discussed his comments with him.

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The team boss has since defended the 103-time race winner by adding that “there are emotions at play” and that the Brackley-based team “wear the heart on our sleeves”.

“We speak all the time but it’s not just one word that matters in the team.

“Because we know each other so well, we know there are emotions at play with him, with me, with many others in our team – we wear the heart on our sleeves.”