In a stunning move that has shocked the motorsport world, seven-time Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton has announced that he will leave Mercedes at the end of 2024 and join Ferrari on a multi-year deal in 2025. The 39-year-old British driver, who has won six titles with Mercedes in seven years from 2014-20 and lost the 2021 championship to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on the final lap of the last race, said he was “so proud” of the success he had achieved with the Silver Arrows and thanked the team for their support and trust.
Hamilton’s decision to join Ferrari, one of the most iconic and successful teams in the history of motorsport, marks the end of a remarkably dominant partnership with Mercedes that has seen him break several records, including the most wins (103), poles (101) and podiums (173) in F1. However, Hamilton and Mercedes have faced increasing challenges in the past two seasons, as Red Bull and Verstappen emerged as serious contenders for the titles. Mercedes won only one race in 2022, when the car suffered from a bouncing effect, known as porpoising, and admitted getting the design wrong. Hamilton’s teammate George Russell, in his debut season, won that 2022 race, and neither driver won a race last year.
Hamilton’s move to Ferrari will likely see him replace Carlos Sainz Jr., who joined the Scuderia in 2021 from McLaren and has been a solid performer alongside Charles Leclerc, who recently signed a multi-year contract extension. Ferrari, who have not won a drivers’ title since 2007 and a constructors’ title since 2008, have shown signs of improvement in 2023, finishing third in the standings behind Red Bull and Mercedes. The Italian team will hope that Hamilton’s experience, talent and leadership will help them return to the top of F1 and challenge their rivals.
Hamilton’s switch to Ferrari will also set up an intriguing rivalry with Verstappen, who will start his bid for a fourth straight world championship in 2025. The two drivers have been involved in some intense and controversial battles on the track, most notably at the British Grand Prix and the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in 2021, where they collided and were penalized. Verstappen, who is 13 years younger than Hamilton, has often expressed his respect and admiration for the Briton, but also his desire to beat him and become the best driver in the world.
Hamilton’s departure from Mercedes will leave a vacant seat at the team, which will have to find a suitable replacement for the F1 legend. Russell, who impressed in his one-off appearance for Mercedes in 2020 when Hamilton tested positive for Covid-19, is widely seen as the frontrunner for the role, as he is also part of the Mercedes junior program. However, other drivers, such as Valtteri Bottas, Lando Norris and Esteban Ocon, could also be in contention, depending on their contractual situations and performances.
Hamilton’s announcement has sent shockwaves across the F1 community, as fans and pundits react to the news of his unexpected move. Many have praised Hamilton for his achievements and legacy with Mercedes, while others have questioned his motives and chances of success with Ferrari. Some have also speculated on the impact of his decision on the future of F1, as the sport prepares for a new era of regulations and challenges in 2025.
Hamilton’s final season with Mercedes will begin on March 2, when the first of a record 24 races will take place in Bahrain. Preseason F1 testing will start on Feb. 21 in Bahrain, where Hamilton will get his first taste of the new Mercedes car. Hamilton’s first race with Ferrari will be in Australia on March 23, 2025, where he will don the famous red overalls and helmet for the first time.
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