THE RUMOURS ARE true: Sir Lewis Hamilton will depart the Mercedes Formula 1 team to join Ferrari in 2025.
How big is this signing? Imagine if Jordan signed for Boston or if Cristiano Ronaldo put pen to paper for Barcelona. Lewis Hamilton going to Ferrari is on the same level.
Hamilton’s move has sent shockwaves through the motor-racing community, leaving his die-hard ‘Merc’ fans in disbelief. But was this move as left-field as many are making it out to be? While the Brit spent most of 2023 snuffing out rumours he would leave his team, many felt a move was well and truly on the cards. Well, the rumours have been proven right, and it is safe to say this next season will be hotly anticipated.
Foreshadowing Hamilton’s exit
The seven-time world champion is the most successful driver in F1 history with 103 wins and 104 pole positions, so it’s natural he’s spent a large portion of his career fending off rival team offers. After remaining loyal to Mercedes since signing in 2013, last year, at age 39, he left fans in a state of flux when he exercised a release option in his two-year contract extension.
The biggest ‘what if?’ looming over Hamilton’s head was whether he would walk away after just one season. With a somewhat less-than-stellar performance in 2023 from both Hamilton and the team, the possibility of the driver calling it quits became more real than ever. And then bang: news dropped in the early hours this morning that his move to Ferrari in 2025 was locked in.
Hamilton said leaving Mercedes “was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make”.
He added: “The time is right for me to take this step and I’m excited to be taking on a new challenge. I will be forever grateful for the incredible support of my Mercedes family, especially Toto [Wolff, Mercedes’ team principal] for his friendship and leadership and I want to finish on a high together.
“I am 100 per cent committed to delivering the best performance I can this season and making my last year with the Silver Arrows one to remember.”
What does this mean for the rest of the grid?
Hamilton, who has not won a race since December 2021, will be keen to chase his eighth world title, and is likely to do it alongside Ferrari’s golden boy Charles Leclerc. With bucketloads of potential, the 26-year-old is due to fully flex his racing muscles after struggling on race days in recent years. Tag-teaming with an icon of the sport like Hamilton in 2025 might be the spur he needs to finally reach his best.
To throw a little more spice into the mix, there’s speculation Fernando Alonso might be a suitable candidate for Hamilton’s seat.
Alsonso seems to be ageing like the finest of red wines. At age 42, the Spaniard is coming off one of his most electrifying seasons, snuggling nicely into fourth position, just behind Hamilton in the 2023 championship race. Despite his age, Alonso has demonstrated that he still possesses an incredible ability to compete at the highest level. Nevertheless, he has remained tight-lipped about any potential move to Mercedes, preferring to wait until after the 2024 season to assess Aston Martin’s progress before making any decisions about his future.
Sadly, it looks like Carlos Sainz will be saying goodbye to his red racing suit sooner than expected after only joining the team at the end of 2020. His 2023 season wasn’t quite up to par and it only takes one average season in F1 to find yourself waking up to news you’ll be making way for Lewis Hamilton. Tough break, Carlos, you’ve got to feel for him.
What does this mean for the 2024 season?
The 2024 season is only weeks away and with the news that a fresh seat at Mercedes, and a chance to drive under team principal Toto Wolf, is now up for grabs, it seems likely we’re going to see drivers itching to build their track resumes to try and impress the head at Mercedes. Hamilton’s move might just be the injection of competition and grit that was missing throughout much of the 2023 season.
While it might be tempting to view this as a dud season for Hamilton at Mercedes, you can bet he’ll continue to push the pedal to the metal, and keep his poor race engineer ‘Bono’ busy with typical Hamilton complaints—’My tyres don’t feel right, Bono’—while simultaneously speeding into turn one with ease. Just because he’s succumbed to the allure of the Ferrari red in 2025, doesn’t mean Hamilton will lift the foot off the gas for the Silver Arrows in 2024.
Targets on backs will be set and seats are up for grabs. Theres nothing better in Formula One than that.