In a wide-ranging media session, Toto discussed the background to the decision, what comes next for the team and the opportunity that this presents.
Toto on Lewis’ new challenge
Toto: When we signed the new contract last August, we opted for a shorter-term deal. We knew that it could be a benefit for both sides.
We couldn’t commit for a longer period, and we totally respect that you can change your mind. We’re big boys. It’s perfectly understandable that he needed a new challenge, that he was looking for a different environment and that it was maybe the last possibility to do something else.
We knew that our partnership would come to an end one day. We thought that was possibly at the end of 2025, so it was still a bit of a surprise. But I hold no grudge.
What it means is that our professional relationship comes to an end. Our personal relationship will continue though; we have a friendship that we’ve built over the past 10 years.
Lewis faced a difficult decision of where to drive and I respect the difficulty of the situation that he faced.
Toto on the year ahead
Toto: Our focus is on the 2024 season.
We have two excellent drivers. We have Lewis in his final year at Mercedes and George eager to get back in the car and perform.
Our main objective is to put a car on the track that has more pace than last year's car. We know how competitive the grid is and the challenge that is ahead of us. But we’re motivated to do our very best to compete.
Lewis was in the factory today to drive the W15 on the simulator for the first time. So we’re all focused on the year to come.