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Moxie, Motivation, and Mercedes

Written by Erin Thompson, Edited by Mara Simion


After the controversial yet crushing loss of the 2021 World Championship title, all eyes were on Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes during the 2022 campaign; a period which would see them into the media but for all the wrong reasons.


Now, over a year down the line, Hamilton and Mercedes are back in the spotlight but this time with some perhaps unexpected company.


On the 1st of February 2024, news hit that would certainly change the face of Formula One for the foreseeable future. At the beginning of season 2025, Sir Lewis Hamilton will be making the move to Maranello, joining the Scuderia Ferrari alongside Charles Leclerc on the terms of a multi-year contract.


Instantly, this sent the entire Formula One community into shock and raised an incredible amount of questions, all of which without answers.


Image Credit: Getty Images

Probably the biggest of these questions still to be answered, is why the contract has been signed a season ahead. Rather than jumping straight from one team to another, Hamilton has to race a season surrounded by a team he’s leaving, causing Sainz to race the same season surrounded by a team that’s letting him go.


Despite both team dynamics at Ferrari and Mercedes having their fair share of questionable moments, will this season be worse?


Wanting to remove any remaining memories of the W13 (the car with which they raced in the 2022 season), it has been argued that during the 2023 campaign, Mercedes moved too far the other direction with the creation of the W14, making it unpredictable with regards to its handling as well as the resulting performance.


While the team, including both drivers (Russell and Hamilton) made their hatred towards the 2023 car transparent this seemed to be one of the few topics the team could agree on.


Questionable calls on tactics and strategy have been repeatedly evidenced by all teams this year however they have been undoubtedly prevalent at Mercedes. Perhaps the most memorable of the 2023 season being the late pit-stop at the start of the Dutch Grand Prix, which resulted in both drivers falling well down the order.


This blunder was quick to be called ‘completely, completely wrong’ by Team Principal Toto Wolff, who claimed that ‘it is the communications between driver, pitwall, strategy’ that caused the ‘subpar’ choice in strategy in this scenario.


Despite issues with planning and strategizing this season, many others appear to revolve around a struggle to coordinate race plans and positions between the drivers, thus calling attention to the relationship between Hamilton and Russell.


Both drivers claim that they share a strong and open relationship, however, this is not always illustrated as when on the track, they are particularly competitive and have been seen to fight and defend as if they were on opposing teams.


This was evidenced in particular at Suzuka, a race which left Russell asking ‘who do we want to fight here, each other or the others?


Image Credits: Getty Images

With the tensions in the Mercedes garage already pervasive, one can only imagine the feelings as of this announcement. As with any sport, for the best results to be achieved in Formula 1, all elements of a team must be working together perfectly, with full commitment seen as the bare minimum from all members.


As we’ve noticed before the seven-time World Championship holder Lewis Hamilton has always been given the Number one seat at Mercedes, but will he hold this position in 2024? With Hamilton confirmed to be leaving to join another team, does Hamilton deserve this standing or should it be passed onto George Russell?


With this whirlwind of loyalties and drama on the grid at the moment, it seems that the only certain thing is Hamilton’s departure from Mercedes. If Russell is given the number one driver spot at Mercedes for the 2024 season, undoubtedly all attention will be on Hamilton, but will Toto Wolff’s eyes be on him as well?


With the departure now confirmed, Wolff is left with an empty seat and a need to find a replacement, a driver with pretty big shoes to fill. This being said, it is almost inevitable that the Mercedes Team Principal will be eyeing up potential drivers throughout next season.


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