Toto Wolff makes bold Lewis Hamilton prediction after signing new Mercedes contract

Mercedes will have Toto Wolff in charge at least until the 2026 F1 season

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Toto Wolff has insisted Lewis Hamilton can challenge for a record-breaking eighth Formula 1 world championship in 2024 after the Mercedes supremo confidently predicted their car will deliver better performance this season.

Hamilton, who turned 39 in January, ended speculation over his future by penning a two-year contract to confirm his place alongside team-mate George Russell as the team’s driver pairing until 2025.

The Briton has won seven world titles during his illustrious career, equalling Michael Schumacher’s record with his 2020 title triumph whilst driving for the Silver Arrows. But he has failed to win a single race since the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix in 2021, and lost out in his title showdown with Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi in controversial circumstances only weeks later.

Hamilton’s struggles have coincided with Mercedes‘ worst period in the sport since 2012, having won only one race out of the last 44. And Wolff admits that the team were arguably not ambitious enough in assembling their last two cars – something he hinted they will rectify with their new model.

“I think the regulations, how they were laid out a few years ago, we interpreted them in a very conservative way,” Wolff told The Daily Telegraph. “And we’ve seen other teams doing it differently. So watch this space. I think it’s going to be very different.”

Lewis Hamilton on track in free practice ahead of the 2023 Abu Dhabi GP | LAT Images / Mercedes F1 Team

Wolff backs Hamilton title charge

When asked if Hamilton has a chance of competing for the title after watching Verstappen claim a hat-trick with the most dominant season ever recorded in Formula 1, the 52-year-old made it clear in no uncertain terms that he still backs Hamilton to break the elusive record.

“The answer is clearly yes in capital letters,” Wolff replied, when asked about Hamilton’s chances. “There is a reason Lewis is a seven-time world champion, and has broken all the records… his ability is on a different level.

“If we are able to give him a car that he actually feels, that drives in a way that he can trust, he will be on the level that’s needed to win the championship. 39 is no age.”

Like Hamilton, the Austrian boss has signed a new contract to continue his stint as CEO and team principal, following talks with the team’s other co-owners, Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Ola Kallenius.

The deal takes Wolff to the end of the 2026 season, and he is confident he is still the right man to lead Mercedes despite their recent decline.

“At the end of the day, as a shareholder myself, I want the best return on investment. And the best return on investment is winning,” the Mercedes chief added.

“I’m not going to try to hang on to a position that I think somebody is going to do better than me. I make sure that I have people around who can tell me otherwise. In the end the three of us decided: ‘Let’s do it again’.”

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