Hamilton ‘turns F1 world upside down’ with Ferrari switch

Fri, 2 February 2024, 08:00

Feb.2 (GMM) The Formula 1 media is in a spin as the pre-season ‘silly season’ goes into overdrive, with Lewis Hamilton sensationally switching to Ferrari for 2025.

The seven time world champion only signed a new two-year Mercedes contract at the end of last August – but the Toto Wolff-led team now admits it featured “a release option”.

“We accept Lewis’s decision to seek a fresh challenge,” Wolff said, “and our opportunities for the future are exciting to contemplate.”

RMC Sport calls it the “transfer of the century”, with the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf insisting 39-year-old Hamilton’s move “turns F1 world upside down”.

“The bomb that shakes up the paddock,” quipped France’s L’Equipe.

As for Germany’s specialist Auto Motor und Sport, the magazine claims Wolff was only told about Hamilton’s secret 2025 deal with Ferrari “a few days ago”.

“The surprise was probably as big as it is for us,” said correspondent Tobias Gruner.

The sensational move explains why Carlos Sainz’s post-2024 contract talks with Ferrari had suddenly become so difficult, as the Spaniard now declares that news about his own future is set to follow “in due course”.

“Carlos and his people knew that Lewis would join the team,” journalist Carlo Vanzini told Sky Italia. “They knew about this last week.

“I also think Charles (Leclerc) knew about this before signing his new contract.”

Ferrari confirmed that Hamilton has signed a “multi-year contract”, as did his 2025 teammate Leclerc just a few days ago.

Alexey Popov, a Russian F1 commentator, is puzzled. “Mercedes seems to be happy with its new car – so apparently Lewis knows something we don’t.

“It could be about the team management not seriously wanting to invest in the future, or perhaps he has insight from Fred Vasseur, who was able to persuade Lewis that Ferrari will definitely be there for the new rules in 2026, just as Mercedes was there in 2014,” said Popov.

Ferrari insider Leo Turrini told Sky Italia: “(Ferrari chairman) John Elkann really wanted Hamilton because it will ensure that he can form a new group of engineers that will strengthen the team.”

Veteran Swiss journalist for Blick newspaper Roger Benoit, meanwhile, predicts “a tough year ahead for Hamilton alongside George Russell”.

“When it comes to car development, Hamilton will be excluded,” he said. “Every drawer and door will be locked because he’s taking all his experience with him to Italy.”

He thinks the Briton has signed a 2-plus-1 Ferrari contract – for 2025 and 2026 and perhaps beyond.

As for who will replace Hamilton at Mercedes, publications are already mentioning the hot 17-year-old talent Kimi Antonelli, whose family is said to be close to Wolff.

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