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ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 23: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes (L), Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff (C), George Russell of Great Britain and Mercedes (R) pose for photo on at the Mercedes GP Team Photo during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on November 23, 2023 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Wolff: Mercedes will treat Hamilton and Russell equally in 2024

Hamilton will leave the team at the end of the 2024 season, spending over a decade with the Brackley-based outfit

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Mercedes Formula 1 team principal Toto Wolff says that the Brackley team will treat Lewis Hamilton and Geoerge Russell equally, despite Hamilton leaving the team at the end of 2024.

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 05: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W14 leads George Russell of Great Britain driving the (63) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W14 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 05, 2023 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Hamilton had the better of Russell in 2023 (Image Credit: Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

With Hamilton leaving the team at the end of 2024, questions have been asked whether Mercedes will give preferences to Russell.

However, Wolff says he has no concerns about potentially having to hide information from Hamilton. The seven-time world champion will not be at the team for the new regulations in 2026. Therefore, Hamilton will most likely be blocked from having any conversations for the new regulations.

Despite this, there will be development work to improve this year’s W15. There will also be discussions for the design process of next year’s W16. Hamilton will be at Ferrari when Mercedes will compete woth its W16 challenger.

Transparency is key

Wolff has already emphasised that there is no grudges against himself and Hamilon. The Austrian boss admitted that he already knew that Hamilton would leave for Ferrari eventaully. However, he was shocked at the timing of the announcement.

Despite already knowing that the seven-time world champion is leaving, Wolff believes that transparency is the most important aspect for 2024:

“I think what I’ve always tried to do as a team principal, and all of us at Mercedes, is to be transparent, and fair. And nothing’s going to change in that respect in 2024.

“We owe it to our principles and our racing intent, how we go about, and we will respect that. And I will be sure that the drivers will respect it.”

“In terms of the development going forward, I think this is something which we need to look at. The regulations stay pretty much the same. And when it comes to 2025, we will evaluate later in the season what it means in terms of technical information, but that’s not something that bothers me at all.

“We have engineers that leave us and go to other teams and the notice periods are sometimes as short as six months.

“So I don’t have any doubt in Lewis’ integrity, in terms of sharing information. And in that respect, we want to make sure that this is a successful season for both drivers, and a successful season for Mercedes, and all of us will give our utmost to achieve that.”

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 05: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W14 leads George Russell of Great Britain driving the (63) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W14 during the F1 Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 05, 2023 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Questions have been asked on who will be Russell’s teammate in 2025 (Image Credit: Clive Mason – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
2024 priority over anything

Mercedes will have a big seat to fill for Hamilon in 2025. However, Wolff insists that the 2024 season is the team’s priority.

“First our main focus is on the 2024 season now,” he said. “We’ve got two excellent drivers. We have Lewis in his final year at Mercedes, and George eager to go back in the car and perform.

“We need to put a car on the track that has more pace than last year’s car, and we know how difficult it will be to compete not only with Red Bull, but possibly the other ones.”

Wolff wants to provide Russell with a good car to challenge at the top. He believes the young British driver has what it takes to lead a team after Hamilton leaves.

“[With] all the Lewis discussion, something that has not been talked enough is George. George has the potential to be the next lead driver in the team.

“He’s of the generation of Lando [Norris] and [Charles] Leclerc and some of the others. I couldn’t wish for a [better] new team leader when Lewis leaves. No doubt about that.”

Feature Image Credit: Edmund So/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

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