The 7-time F1 world champion leaves Mercedes-Benz for a multi-year deal at Ferrari from 2025 onwards.
With nearly all the driver’s contracts expiring this year, everyone who is into F1 could have saw from a mile away that 2024 will be yet another silly season in the driver’s market. Though even up to yesterday, no one would probably have bought that Lewis Hamilton will be driving for no other than his long-time team of Mercedes-AMG Petronas.
Though in what has been the biggest shock to have come out of Formula 1 since Max Verstappen won his first F1 title in final corners during the last race 2021, it has since transpired that the 7-time world champion has indeed actually signed to race for Ferrari starting from 2025. What more too is that the Brit will actually be donning that iconic red race suit for apparently a few more years to come as well, with this new contract set to supposedly be a 2+1 deal.
Set to be racing alongside Charles Leclerc for the foreseeable future now, rumours of Hamilton’s shocking switch to the prancing horse were actually surprisingly low key until 24 hours before the official confirmation came. In fact, it was just earlier this month that there were reports regarding current Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz’s contact extension with the team beyond 2025.
It seemed however that when Ferrari boss John Elkann discovered that Hamilton was a free man for now after 2025, he made the pitch to the Brit by tempting him with the promise of their power unit having the potential to be a class-leader come the new regulations in 2026. And given that the former multiple world champion hasn’t exactly been fighting for wins with his current team for two years now, the allure of new prospects elsewhere may have been more than persuasive than it once was when he was still on top of the F1 world.
Hamilton’s shock contract with Ferrari sparked its share prices to hit a record high on the New York Stock Exchange, with its market cap eventually surging by some $7 billion (RM 33 billion) at the end of the trading day. Mercedes staff meanwhile were informed of his departure in a factory meeting at Brackley on yesterday afternoon, which was hosted by team boss Toto Wolff and technical director James Allison.
It currently remains to be seen if Hamilton will actually be able to replicate his prior successes at his new team, especially considering the state of Ferrari in these past couple of years has not exactly been championship material. Though it is perhaps worth remembering that the Brit’s move to Mercedes was considered similarly mad back then, and that lead to him scooping 6 out of his 7 world championships with the team from 2014 to 2020.
Similarly fun to speculate on now too is what happens to the rest of the grid amid this shock move by one of the titans to another team. Carlos Sainz is looking likely to join Audi when it eventually takes over Skate (formerly known as Sauber) in 2026, but he is still to be lacking a seat in the year before that happens.
With Hamilton’s overlarge presence at Mercedes too, the former top team in F1 is to soon now be out one of its main pillars of strength. So more than the question of who will replace the multi-world champion in his seat next year, the bigger question should be whether the team itself can properly move forward from this unexpected news in the future.