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Our verdict on Hamilton-to-Ferrari F1 bombshell

10 min read

News of Lewis Hamilton's move to Ferrari has shaken the world of Formula 1.

At its core, it could be called a romantic move as the seven-time champion will get to drive for a team many believe he's always wanted to - something that his hero Ayrton Senna never got the chance to.

But it's also a move grounded in the present, showing faith in Ferrari's current trajectory, and something that opens the floodgates for a host of other F1 drivers to make big silly season moves ahead of 2025, too.

Our writers chip in with their analysis of this F1 driver market bombshell.

A stunning career epilogue

Scott Mitchell

There could be push and pull competitive factors behind this. The push would be that Hamilton does not believe Mercedes is a good enough bet anymore to give him the chance to achieve what he wants to on-track. The pull would be that something about Ferrari is convincing him it is a better bet.

But it's also possible that assuming Hamilton has lost faith in Mercedes, he does not need Ferrari to guarantee the success that Mercedes can't. Because Ferrari can still offer him something else - a stunning career epilogue.

Hamilton at Ferrari is a wonderful combination, and it's the only move he would ever consider making from Mercedes. Driving for Ferrari has been an idea in his mind for a long time it just always looked like something that would never make enough sense.

Now it seems it does. And while ticking off a fun career bucket list item will surely not be the whole motivation - Hamilton will surely believe he can achieve something on-track too - it's a great sweetener that no other Mercedes alternative can offer.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained

Gary Anderson

I don’t think there has ever been a driver who wouldn’t jump at the chance of wearing the Ferrari red overalls. Hamilton is no exception.

He has often said that he will end his driving career at Mercedes because it’s his home, but words are only words and it’s action that counts - oh, and how big the pay cheque is.

If he feels that 2024 is going to be a battle between Mercedes and Ferrari for best-of-the-rest behind Red Bull, why not sign up with Ferrari for 2025 and beyond? Teaming up with Charles Leclerc would certainly make a very strong driver pairing, and if the team can give them the car then progress is certainly possible.

New regulations for 2026 mean he will have had his foot in the door for a year by the time they come into play, so a good opportunity to end what has so far been a fantastic career with both McLaren and Mercedes on a peak. In red overalls, and with just a chance that Ferrari can make better use of that new set of regulations than the others, the sky could be the limit.

It could be a case of nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Modern F1's most audacious driver move

Edd Straw

Lewis Hamilton signing for Ferrari is the most astounding driver move in 21st century F1. The possibility has been talked about for years, but the timing and circumstances are close to unbelievable.

Firstly, Hamilton will turn 40 in 2025. That in itself isn’t a barrier, but it felt like the Ferrari ship had sailed for him so late in his career.

Secondly, this is a spectacularly public vote of no confidence in Mercedes given Hamilton has yet to drive the dramatically overhauled Mercedes W15. The only conclusion that can be drawn from that is Hamilton doesn’t believe Mercedes will be competitive enough for him in the next two years. Otherwise, why take the risk?

Thirdly, it’s a bold step by Ferrari to complete a spectacular driver line-up with an established superstar and, in Charles Leclerc, a driver of huge ability who should have world championships in its future.

This proves the driver market can still produce staggering bombshells with a huge impact. And while I’ve previously argued that Ferrari needed to prioritise signing up Carlos Sainz, that was on the basis that Hamilton wasn’t available.

It's an audacious move both for Hamilton and Ferrari. And that’s what makes it a great story for F1 and a tantalising prospect for fans.

A move Senna didn't get to make

Glenn Freeman

Beyond the obvious romanticism of driving for Ferrari, for Hamilton there's the added layer of this being a move many expected his idol Ayrton Senna would have made one day before the end of his F1 career, if he'd been able to go out on his own terms.

It won't be a primary motivation for Lewis, but you can be certain he's aware of it. Getting to add a chapter to his F1 story that Senna didn't would mean something to him.

Among all the more important noise around one of the most seismic driver moves of all time, a detail like that is pretty superficial. But it wouldn't be superficial to the Interlagos crowd, for example, if Hamilton ran one of his Senna tribute helmet designs at the Brazilian GP as a Ferrari driver.

The best driver line-up since 2007

Ben Anderson

There hasn’t been a driver lineup as strong as this at least as far back as 2007, and even back then Hamilton was a rookie, so the version of him that will go head-to-head with Leclerc is obviously a step up on the version that ran Alonso so close at McLaren.

The likes of Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button both went up against other world champions during their own F1 careers - Raikkonen was team-mate to Alonso and Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari (2014-18), while Button had stints alongside Hamilton (2010-12) and then Alonso (2015-16) at McLaren - so this sort of thing is not unprecedented.

But it’s also fair to say neither Raikkonen nor Button were considered to be operating at the same level then as Leclerc and Hamilton are now.

It will actually be a good test for Hamilton, to see whether he’s still at the peak of his powers. He made no secret of the self doubt he felt during two seasons of Mercedes struggling, and George Russell has pushed him quite hard. Going up against someone as good as Leclerc will show us whether, like Button and Raikkonen before him, the old magic has really started to wain or not.

Leclerc is both incredibly quick - perhaps the fastest driver in F1 over a single lap - and properly ingrained within the Ferrari system, so this is an incredibly bold call from Hamilton.

And it’s also refreshing to see in this age of so-called ‘franchise’ drivers - who feel they must build a project around them and them alone, regardless of whether that team is the most competitive proposition.

Ferrari is arguably only a sideways move at best for Hamilton - but what a sideways move! Brave, and incredibly exciting too. And who knows, if Hamilton has actually gone a bit stale at Mercedes maybe this is exactly the sort of thing he needs to revitalise himself.

Hamilton's a racing romantic

Sam Smith

To me, and I wrote this last year, Lewis Hamilton finishing his career at Ferrari is completely logical and in keeping with his reputation as one of the greatest drivers ever to ensure he has the best chance of underscoring a remarkable legacy.

What is often not discussed with Hamilton is that he is a racing romantic. Yes, he’s a winning machine, or was prior to 2022, but he is aware of his standing in a sport he truly loves.

He will know that being the first driver to deliver a title to Maranello for over 15 years will secure a legacy for the ages. Taking an eighth title with Mercedes looks unlikely, and perhaps at present doing the same with Ferrari against a fully charged Verstappen and Red Bull has equally long odds.

But the tantalising prospect of glory and becoming a legend to the Tifosi is just too alluring - so in the dry, commercially led world of modern F1, Hamilton’s expected decision to drive for the Prancing Horse should be sung in awe from the rooftops.

Many doubted his last move

Josh Suttill

It's worth noting that there was widespread confusion, shock and bafflement at Hamilton's last (and previously sole) F1 team switch in late 2012.

And we all know exactly how that turned out.

Perhaps he's seen much of the same evidence in Ferrari of now than he did of Mercedes in 2012.

Hamilton knows better than most what an F1 team that's on the cusp of turning the tide looks like. This move is all about success in F1's new era in 2026 after all, rather than instant wins in 2025.

And it's far less of a risk anyway than in 2012 when he left a title-challenging McLaren for what was (at that point) midfield F1 team.

He'll similarly back himself to overcome the incumbent too, as he did with Nico Rosberg, and become the spearhead. Even if the task this time to do so would be even greater with Charles Leclerc.

My initial reaction to the news was disagreement, but perhaps we're all about to be proved wrong all over again.

Proof - if needed - Hamilton still backs himself

Jonny Reynolds

Whatever the rationale for Hamilton deciding to make the move to Ferrari, one thing this definitively proves is that he still backs himself to beat anyone.

A driver of Hamilton’s personality and calibre will not be going to Ferrari just to tick a ‘must do’ box, or to pick up one last big F1 pay-check (though you assume both of those are big motivations too). He’ll be going there hell-bent on winning and leaving a lasting legacy with F1's most storied team, and to do that he’s going to have to walk into Charles Leclerc’s house and beat arguably the quickest driver over one lap in F1 today - and that's before even thinking about Max Verstappen.

Lando Norris recently questioned the logic of joining Red Bull and pitting himself against Verstappen, but clearly Hamilton - who has never sought to control who his team-mate is, nor got fussy about number one status - has no concerns about a similar challenge.

And if you ask me, that says a lot about Hamilton’s current mentality, motivation, and view of his own performance level right now.

This is a vindication of Vasseur's Ferrari

Jack Benyon

This has to be a big vindication of the work Fred Vasseur has done at Ferrari.

The pair worked together in Hamilton’s F3 and in GP2 years from 2005-06, and have kept in touch since, so there is a pre-existing relationship and perhaps it's not a stretch to call it a friendship, either.

But I don’t think a bucket-list move to Ferrari or a friendship with Vasseur alone would tempt Hamilton to leave Mercedes.

It’s the immediate improvement in how Ferrari goes about racing that has made this possible, surely, and for that, Vasseur does need plenty of credit.

It’s hard to imagine Hamilton wanting to join Binotto-era Ferrari - even if Binotto wasn’t totally to blame - with all of its race-execution flaws and rollercoaster form. Not everything is fixed, but there’s been a marked improvement on race day and the team is poised to deliver Leclerc/Hamilton a title-winning car or commit to being Red Bull’s ineffectual rivals. Perhaps Hamilton can help swing the scales.

Committing to Charles Leclerc gives Ferrari its medium-term future, but Hamilton’s ability and experience is tough to look past if the option is there.

And perhaps a fresh start and perspective from a new driver/leader will help Mercedes, too.

Should we address the elephant in the room here, too? What if Hamilton broke free of Michael Schumacher and won a record-breaking eighth title, with a Ferrari team so synonymous with the legendary Schumacher, the darling of the Tifosi? That will need careful PR management.

This bodes well for Mercedes' next big thing

Megan White

Though he was likely to find himself at Mercedes in the long-term regardless, Hamilton’s move to Ferrari bodes well for Mercedes' next big star: Andrea Kimi Antonelli.

Signed up by Toto Wolff in 2019 aged just 13, Antonelli has already conquered ADAC and Italian F4 and both the European and Middle East Formula Regional championships in the space of two years.

The 17-year-old will make the (admittedly huge) jump to Formula 2 in 2024 and, though he is yet to line up on the grid for his first race in the championship, Antonelli is already being touted as a title favourite - though Prema team-mate Oliver Bearman has the experience to match Antonelli's talent.

It has been widely expected that Antonelli would find himself on the F1 grid by 2026 regardless, having spent two years learning his craft in F2, probably via a customer outfit - most likely Williams.

But Hamilton moving aside, replaced at Mercedes with another driver for a season or two while Toto Wolff waits for his wunderkind, makes that path a little easier to navigate for Antonelli.

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