Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says the season finale’s events have left Hamilton and the team “disillusioned.” The Austrian expressed his desire for Lewis to continue racing, but also suggested that the Brit will never recover from the pain and distress which caused on Sunday. After a controversial Safety Car restart procedure, Max Verstappen overtook Hamilton on the race’s final lap to claim the race win and world title.
Mercedes announced on Thursday that they had withdrawn their appeal against the race result, but they remain deeply disappointed with how the race unfolded. “Lewis and I are disillusioned at the moment,” said Wolff. “We are not disillusioned of the sport, we love the sport with every bone in our body and we love it because the stopwatch never lies.”
“But if we break that fundamental principle of sporting fairness and authenticity of the sport, that suddenly the stopwatch doesn’t become relevant anybody because we are exposed to random decision making it is clear that you start to question if all the work that you have been putting in, all the sweat tears and blood can actually be demonstrated in terms of bringing the best possible performances on track because it can be taken away randomly.”
“It’s going to take a long time for us to digest what has happened on Sunday. I don’t think we will ever come over it, that’s not possible. And certainly not him (Hamilton) as a driver. I would very much hope the two of us and the rest of the team we can work through the events… But he will never overcome the pain and the distress that was caused on Sunday,” the Mercedes team principal said.
Earlier this season, Hamilton agreed to a new two-year contract with Mercedes. When asked directly if Hamilton, who turns 37 in January, would be back next year, Wolff said it was not a given.
“I would very much hope Lewis continues racing because he is the greatest driver of all time,” he said. “As a racer his heart will say I need to continue because he’s at the peak of his game,” he added. “But we have to overcome the pain that was caused upon him on Sunday. He is a man with clear values.”
Both Wolff and Hamilton have stated that they will not attend the FIA prize-giving ceremony on Thursday night. Mercedes chief technical officer James Allison would be in Paris to collect the trophy for the team’s eighth Constructors’ Championship, a record.
“I won’t be there because of my loyalty to Lewis and because of my own personal integrity,” Wolff added.