Lewis Hamilton shocked the motorsport world when the seven-time Formula One champion said he would leave Mercedes at the end of the season and join Ferrari, a team that tried to land Hamilton before signing his latest contract extension with the Silver Arrows.
Hamilton decided to extend his contract with Mercedes for two years only at the end of August. Mercedes said on Thursday that the 39-year-old British driver had activated a release clause in the new deal that would allow him to join Ferrari in 2025.
“I’ve had a fantastic 11 years with this team and I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved together. “Mercedes has been a part of my life since I was 13,” Hamilton said in a team statement. “This is a place where I grew up, so making the decision to leave is one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.” “But it’s time for me to take this step and I’m excited to take on a new challenge.”
Hamilton moved from McLaren to Mercedes in 2013 and won six of his seven championships with Silver Arrows. His 103 race victories are an F1 record, but his last win was achieved in the penultimate race of the 2021 season, where Mercedes struggled to get its new car up to speed against rival Red Bull.
News of Hamilton’s move first broke early Thursday, but it took the rest of the day for teams to respond to the speculation. Mercedes eventually said Hamilton would be leaving, with comments from both Hamilton and team boss Toto Wolff, and moments later Ferrari issued a team statement that simply read: “Scuderia Ferrari is delighted to announce that Lewis Hamilton will join the team on a multi-contract deal in 2025.” .” annual contract.”
Then came a statement from current Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz Jr., who had been in talks about a contract extension but negotiations appeared to stall towards the end of last year.
“Following today’s news, Scuderia Ferrari and I will part ways at the end of 2024,” Sainz said. “We still have a long season ahead of us and, as always, I will do my best for the team and Tifosi around the world. News about my future will be announced in due course.”
Hamilton will finish his run at Mercedes alongside current teammate George Russell. He will be a teammate at Ferrari with Charles Leclerc, who decided to extend a long-term contract in December.
Hamilton will be 40 years old when he wears the red-black jersey to represent Ferrari. His last title was in 2020 and he was on course for a record-breaking eighth title in the 2021 season finale until he handed that title to Max Verstappen in a controversial finish; Red Bull surpassed Mercedes to win three consecutive championships. As the best team in F1.
Ferrari, meanwhile, has not won the drivers’ championship since Finnish driver Kimi Räikkonen won the championship in 2007.