Mercedes will not lose Lewis Hamilton, insists Toto Wolff after Bahrain misery

  • Team principal makes pledge after dire start to new season
  • ‘It would be too easy to lose a driver and then throw in the towel’

The Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, insists he has no fear that Lewis Hamilton will leave the team after they made a shocking start to the new Formula One season.

His team were solidly beaten at the season opener in Bahrain, with Hamilton and George Russell managing only fifth and seventh. Their car was the fourth fastest, solidly behind the Red Bull, Ferrari and Aston Martin, a team that use a Mercedes engine, gearbox and suspension.

After an equally trying campaign last year and with Hamilton’s Mercedes contract up at the end of this season, Wolff was adamant the team would do everything to keep the seven‑times champion on board.

“It would be much too easy to lose a driver and then throw in the towel, and we are not doing that,” he said. “On the contrary we need to really dig deep, deeper than we have ever done and provide both drivers with a car they can actually fight with.

“Lewis is an integral part of the team, picking the team up and we are speaking together. I don’t think that is going to change because we had another start that was really bad. We have won eight constructors’ championships and six driver championships with him, that relationship holds.”

Lewis Hamilton on the grid before the race.
Lewis Hamilton on the grid before the race. Photograph: David Davies/PA

Hamilton has also recently expressed his commitment to continuing with Mercedes, although that was before the Bahrain GP exposed just how far off the pace the team are.

The race at the Sakhir circuit was won in dominant fashion by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, with his teammate Sergio Pérez in second, and Mercedes were never in the mix. Fernando Alonso, who was third for Aston Martin, came back after losing places and easily passed both Hamilton and Russell, who were powerless to resist the superior pace of the Aston.

On Saturday after qualifying, Wolff had conceded the team had made a mistake in sticking with the concept of last year’s car this season and their performance in Bahrain had decided then on immediately investigating replacing it with a new design.

“I am not bullshitting myself and I am not bullshitting you,” he said. “As a matter of fact the gap is very big and in order to catch up we need to make big steps. The drivers are fully aware. Everyone is aware this is not a matter of finding three-tenths and polishing the car up. This is a matter of serious performance that we need to find to put us back into a situation to fight for race wins and the championship.”


Giles Richards at Bahrain International Circuit

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes not giving up F1 title fight, insists Toto Wolff
The Mercedes team principal said he still believes Lewis Hamilton can win his eighth F1 world title this season, despite Max Verstappen’s 19-point lead

Giles Richards

08, Nov, 2021 @5:40 PM

Article image
Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff reheat Mercedes partnership in kitchen
Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes are going to be the ‘strongest’ partnership as they make Valtteri Bottas their No1 target to replace Nico Rosberg

Mark Dobson

11, Dec, 2016 @10:49 PM

Article image
Toto Wolff will ‘give 100%’ to keep Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes
Mercedes’ team principal, Toto Wolff, says the team were the ‘best base for Lewis Hamilton’s ambitions’ as the world champion prepares for the last season of his present contract

Giles Richards

10, Feb, 2020 @10:00 PM

Article image
Mercedes’ Toto Wolff expects ‘hungry’ Lewis Hamilton to stay with F1 team
The Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, said Lewis Hamilton had been energised by the F1 world title battle with Max Verstappen

Giles Richards at the Red Bull Ring

25, Jun, 2021 @3:05 PM

Article image
Mercedes ‘100% committed’ to keeping Lewis Hamilton, insists Toto Wolff
Team principal Toto Wolff expects to see Mercedes’ former world champion chasing a record eighth Formula One title in 2024

Andy Martin

03, May, 2023 @4:55 PM

Article image
Mercedes' Wolff hails 'special driver' Lewis Hamilton after landmark F1 win
Mercedes’ Toto Wolff has said Lewis Hamilton, who won a record-breaking 92nd grand prix in Portugal, is a special driver

Giles Richards

26, Oct, 2020 @1:05 PM

Article image
Toto Wolff: 'Lewis Hamilton won't let criticism close to his soul'
The Mercedes principal Toto Wolff tells Giles Richards of his respect and admiration for Lewis Hamilton who he says takes criticism on board, learns from his mistakes and can race beyond his 40s

Giles Richards

31, Jul, 2020 @7:00 PM

Article image
Toto Wolff angry despite ‘best ever’ Lewis Hamilton performance in Brazil
Toto Wolff described Lewis Hamilton’s victory as one of his ‘best ever’ but hit out at ‘laughable’ decisions he believes Mercedes suffered in Brazil

Giles Richards

15, Nov, 2021 @5:28 PM

Article image
Lewis Hamilton apologises to Mercedes for Bahrain Grand Prix penalty
Lewis Hamilton has apologised to his Mercedes team after he incurred a penalty that ensured he finished second behind the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel at the Bahrain Grand Prix

Giles Richards

16, Apr, 2017 @8:42 PM

Article image
Lewis Hamilton cannot be complacent in F1 title race, says Toto Wolff
Lewis Hamilton cannot afford to be complacent in his attempt to win a fourth Formula One world championship despite a 28-point lead, warned Toto Wolff

Giles Richards

18, Sep, 2017 @4:03 PM