“Need to Protect Him”: Months Before $127,000,000 Promise, Toto Wolff Became Lewis Hamilton’s Bulwark Against Enemy Forces

Published 10/03/2023, 7:30 AM EDT

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The Formula 1 world is still buzzing over Lewis Hamilton‘s jaw-dropping $127 million contract extension with Mercedes, and the implications of this mega-deal are already creating ripples throughout the motorsports community. Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, opened up some time ago about his role as a protector for the seven-time F1 champion. Hamilton faced some challenging moments earlier in the season as he grappled with the quirks of the Mercedes W13, which experienced the notorious “porpoising phenomenon.”

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However, as the Silver Arrows gradually ironed out their issues, Hamilton’s performance started to shine. Wolff, in an interview with Square Mile, shed light on the criticism Hamilton has faced and his own role as a buffer against it.

via Imago

“I need to protect him because people have started to hit out at him, which is not right,” Wolff emphasized. “It’s complete nonsense: he’s the greatest driver of all time. The car is just sub-par.”

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Wolff drew a comparison between Lewis Hamilton and his teammate George Russell. He suggested that Russell might have faced fewer challenges adapting to the Mercedes W13 because he has experience driving less competitive cars at the rear of the grid. In contrast, Hamilton encountered difficulties that were, in part, due to bad luck on multiple occasions.

Wolff hinted that if luck had been on Hamilton’s side, he could have secured more podium finishes in 2022, potentially changing the perception of his performance. Wolff’s comments serve as a reminder to everyone that the blame for the struggles Mercedes has faced this season should not fall on Hamilton’s shoulders. Instead, it underscores that it’s the car, not the driver, that’s been the primary issue.

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While we’ve been so caught up debating his seasonal performance, Hamilton has been pondering on the bigger questions of legacy and what comes after the chequered flag.

Lewis Hamilton’s retirement gameplan: One exit, No encores

In a recent tête-à-tête with Swiss magazine Blick, Hamilton has shed some light on his future plans post-retirement. While many of us have joked about successful drivers waving goodbye only to return to the grid, Hamilton seems to have his mind firmly set: no encores for him.

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via Reuters

Recall Sebastian Vettel’s retirement last year, where he left us hanging with the possibility of a comeback. Hamilton’s got a different tune. “When the chapter is over, that’s when it’s over,” he said, adding, “I can’t imagine standing in the paddock or the garage – without then getting into a car. But, you know, never say never.”

Hamilton recently penned a deal that secures his position with the Silver Arrows alongside teammate George Russell until 2025. This means the champion will still be burning rubber past his 40th birthday. On potential baby steps away from the racetrack, Hamilton admitted he isn’t ready to swap steering wheels for strollers just yet. “I enjoy being an uncle!” he laughed when quizzed about family plans. “I haven’t decided on this big step yet. Racing first!”

Watch This Story | Lewis Hamilton Jumps Off a Plane Amidst His Mental Health Woes

As for that potential eighth World Championship? “I never said that the eighth title would be a stop signal for me,” Lewis mused, hinting that only upon hoisting another trophy would he gauge if it is time to hang up his racing boots.

So, in a nutshell: Hamilton’s retirement? Sure, eventually. A potential return post-retirement? Unlikely. Baby Hamiltons racing around? Not just yet. An eighth title? Watch this space!

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Written by:

Pulkit Jai

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Pulkit is an F1 writer at EssentiallySports. With a strong academic background in engineering, he possesses an in-depth understanding of the intricate mechanics and technology driving Formula 1 racing. This expertise allows him to offer insightful analysis, exploring the technical aspects of the sport and shedding light on the innovative advancements that shape the world of F1.
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Edited by:

Akash Pandhare

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