Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff has implied it was Lewis Hamilton’s decision to split with trainer Angela Cullen, saying change comes when “things don’t work out anymore”.
Former New Zealand national team hockey player Cullen has worked as Hamilton’s dedicated performance coach since 2016 via the renowned Hinsta coaching organisation.
However, on the Friday ahead of the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, both Cullen and the seven-time world champion took to social media to announce their parting of ways.
Neither alluded to the cause of the separation nor specified what Cullen will do next.
Wolff has now suggested it was Hamilton who led the split as part of an “honest” appraisal, but Mercedes will support its driver with “whatever decision he wants to take”.
The Austrian said: “Angela was part of the gang for a long time.
“I think in every team, whether that is his close circle, or also in the wider group, this is not a static situation that you can freeze, because we all develop as people.
“We develop as an organisation and if things don't work out anymore, then we need to be honest about it and then bring change.
“Angela will always be a mascot of the team. She's the only one who has a louder voice than a starting car!
“But, if this is what [Hamilton] decides, we will always absolutely support him, whatever direction he wants to take.”
Wolff: No grudge if Hamilton looks at joining other teams
Wolff would hold “no grudge” should Hamilton evaluate an eventual switch to another team to win an eighth world title, but Mercedes is entirely confident he will remain in the short term.
Hamilton’s current contract expires at the end of the 2023 season, the Briton having previously said that agreeing a new deal would be a simple formality that would take place over the winter.
But there is still no firm agreement in place after the troubled start to the new campaign for the W14.
While it is fully expected Hamilton will renew with Mercedes, having joined the F1 team in 2013, Wolff said the driver might need to look elsewhere for subsequent deals if the team has still not escaped its current “valley of tears”.
“I don't think that Lewis will leave Mercedes,” said Wolff.
“He’s at the stage of a career where we trust each other, we have formed the great bond among each other and we have no reason to doubt each other, even though this is a difficult spell.
“But so nice it will be when we come out of this valley of tears and come back to solid performances.
“As a driver, nevertheless, if he wants to win another championship, he needs to make sure that he has the car.
“If we cannot demonstrate that we're able to give him a car in the next couple of years, then he needs to look elsewhere.
“I don't think he's doing it at that stage, but I will have no grudge if that happens in a year or two.”