Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff has issued an update on his relationship with Ferrari's Frederic Vasseur, following the shock news regarding Lewis Hamilton's switch to the Scuderia in Formula 1 at the end of 2024.
The move from Mercedes to Ferrari surprised Wolff, who was informed over a coffee in his Oxfordshire house by Hamilton of his intentions to leave. The Austrian has worked with Hamilton for the best part of 11 years, after he joined the team in 2013.
Vasseur meanwhile has known Hamilton for longer, having worked with him during his junior formula career at the ART team in both Formula 3 and GP2 (now F2).
When asked if the Hamilton news would lead to a fractured relationship between the pair, Wolff told media, including RacingNews365: “I have great respect for Fred. Not only as a racing manager but also as a long-time friend.
"But when he took the role in Ferrari, it was clear that he needs to do the best he can for Ferrari and use every opportunity in order to do that. So there is no bad feeling towards Fred trying to get the best the best employees, the best drivers.
“So that has no effect on the relationship. It is a tough competition. It is a cut-throat environment. And as much as I try to do the best for our group, he will do that for Ferrari."
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Wolff added that he has a "respectful relationship" with Vasseur and believes that Hamilton made his decision to give Mercedes time to decide on a replacement for next season.
"[We've spoke] numerous times. We've coordinated on our communications and I speak to him multiple times every week. It’s a little bit like rugby. We punch each other in the nose but we are able to get off the pitch and have a respectful relationship," said Wolff.
"As for Lewis, clearly the timing was surprising to us too. I guess what he tried to do is maybe give us a long time to decide what we want to do going forward for next year.
"I have no doubt that Fred will we be able to have a very good relationship with Lewis as his boss. No doubt about that. They’ve known each other for more than 20 years, he’s raced in ART. Fred understands racing driver’s minds.
“He does things very differently to me. But they’re very successful, like his track record shows."