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Hamilton's exit will spark renewal for Mercedes - boss

Hamilton's exit will spark renewal for Mercedes - boss
© Reuters
Like Ferrari and McLaren, Mercedes is gearing up for significant car improvements for the upcoming Miami Grand Prix.

Like Ferrari and McLaren, Mercedes is gearing up for significant car improvements for the upcoming Miami Grand Prix.

The once-dominant squad has been experiencing a downturn for three seasons, culminating in Lewis Hamilton's decision to leave after 2024. Last weekend in China, the team showed no indication of an upturn.

"This is a bad car," a plainly frustrated and candid Toto Wolff, team boss and co-owner, expressed to Sky Deutschland on Sunday after George Russell finished in sixth place.

"We will bring some new things to Miami, which we really need, but now we are behind the Ferraris and also Lando Norris, and that is simply not good enough."

In response to Wolff's efforts to lure Max Verstappen to Mercedes next year, an irritated Christian Horner, the Red Bull boss, remarked on Sunday: "Why would anyone want to leave this team?" He added, "Mercedes is the third team with those engines," referring also to Aston Martin, with Fernando Alonso finishing ahead of Hamilton.

Acknowledging the consistent issues over three seasons, Wolff remains hopeful that upcoming updates will improve their performance. "We see the errors in it but we have something for Miami and it looks like a good move. Let's see where it takes us," he stated.

The end of Hamilton's tenure with the Brackley-based team is apparent as he plans to join Ferrari in 2025. Wolff hinted at Hamilton's part in the car's problematic setup after the sprint race on Saturday. "We definitely positioned the car incorrectly," he disclosed. "Lewis set a development direction that was so wrong that the car didn't make it around the corners."

Wolff also suggested that losing Hamilton might not significantly impact Mercedes. "The fact is that the role of the driver in the development of a car is overestimated," he explained. "It's worse to lose an engineer than a driver."

Hamilton countered: "I'm not a car designer. I wish I was!"

As Wolff sets his sights on 2025, his ideal choice is Max Verstappen, though Carlos Sainz, who may be open to a one-year contract, is also in consideration. This could potentially pave the way for Kimi Antonelli's Formula 1 debut in 2026.

"There are some interesting discussions and interesting options," Wolff commented, "both short and long term. I'm looking forward to starting a new era next year with a new driver."

"Twelve years with Lewis was incredible, but now there's a refresh."

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Red Bull's Max Verstappen after winning the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 2, 2024
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