Ferrari confirm Lewis Hamilton as driver for 2025 F1 season

Ferrari confirm Lewis Hamilton as driver for 2025 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton will make a sensational move to Ferrari for the 2025 Formula One season on a multiyear contract, the Italian team confirmed on Thursday.

Hamilton, a seven-time world champion and winner of a record 103 races, will drive for Mercedes this coming season before replacing Carlos Sainz the following year.

Hamilton, 39, signed a new two-year contract with Mercedes last year but exercised a release option to allow him to walk away from the team after just one season.

Hamilton said leaving Mercedes “was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make.”

He added: “The time is right for me to take this step and I’m excited to be taking on a new challenge. I will be forever grateful for the incredible support of my Mercedes family, especially Toto [Wolff, Mercedes team principal] for his friendship and leadership and I want to finish on a high together.

“I am 100% committed to delivering the best performance I can this season and making my last year with the Silver Arrows, one to remember.”

Ferrari, F1’s most successful team and the only one to have competed in every world championship season, has not won a drivers title since Kimi Raikkonen’s in 2007.

Hamilton, tied with Ferrari legend Michael Schumacher with seven titles, now has a chance to end the Italian team’s drought and move clear as F1’s most decorated champion in the process.

Were he to do so, he would become the first driver to win championships with three different teams since Juan Manuel Fangio in 1957.

Rumours of Hamilton joining Ferrari have been common throughout his career, but Thursday’s news still appeared to come out of the blue — ESPN has been told even Mercedes was caught off guard, which is reflected in the fact they have not yet confirmed a driver to replace him.

ESPN sources confirmed the news of Hamilton’s switch on Thursday morning. Ferrari chairman John Elkann, known to be a long-time admirer of Hamilton’s ability, wanted Ferrari to add a big-name driver to partner Charles Leclerc going forward.

Leclerc recently signed a contract extension until at least 2026 — Elkann’s ambitions now explain why Ferrari had been stalling on doing similar with Sainz.

Leclerc has been with Ferrari since before he joined F1 but, despite forging a reputation as the sport’s fastest qualifier, questions remain about his ability to win a championship, having made a string of high-profile mistakes under pressure.

Ahead of last year’s Monaco Grand Prix, Hamilton and Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur laughed off reports that the British driver was about to sign with the team, but sources say Elkann continued chasing Hamilton’s signature even after he agreed an extension with Mercedes and that negotiations intensified towards the end of the year and into January.

Vasseur worked with Hamilton when he won the GP2 (now Formula Two) title in 2006 with the ART team and the two have remained on good terms since.

Until Thursday’s bombshell announcement, Hamilton had appeared happy to see out his career with Mercedes, the team he joined in 2013 in what has gone down as one of the best driver moves in recent times.

Hamilton won six of his seven world titles with the team in the most dominant spell in F1 history, which saw Mercedes win the constructors championship eight times in a row between 2014 and 2021.

After being controversially denied an eighth drivers title on the final lap of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Hamilton failed to score a single race victory in either 2022 or 2023.

Last year he said Mercedes needed the best six months of development in F1 history just to catch the dominant Red Bull team.

Mercedes appeared set to go into the future with the core of its team together — team boss Toto Wolff recently signed a three-year extension, while Hamilton’s teammate George Russell is under contract until the end of 2025.

The identity of Hamilton’s replacement will now be a major talking point for the season ahead.

“We knew our partnership would come to a natural end at some point, and that day has now come,” Wolff said. “We accept Lewis’s decision to seek a fresh challenge, and our opportunities for the future are exciting to contemplate.”

Williams driver Alex Albon, who enjoyed a standout 2023 and is a good friend of Russell, appears to be a strong candidate.

Sainz is considered more likely to sign with Audi’s incoming F1 project in 2026, although he now may be a left-field option for Mercedes as they look to fill the void.

“Following today’s news, Scuderia Ferrari and myself will part ways at the end of 2024,” Sainz said in a statement posted on X.

“We still have a long season ahead of us and, like always, I will give my absolute best for the team and for the Tifosi all around the world.

“News about my future will be announced in due course.”

Daniel Ricciardo, who will race for the newly named Red Bull junior team Visa Cash App RB this year, is also likely to be linked to the seat, although he has made it clear he wants to replace Sergio Perez at Red Bull in 2025.

Added attention will now be paid to the progress of Mercedes wonderkid junior driver Andrea Kimi Antonelli, who will race in Formula Two this season. The Italian teenager, who signed a development deal with Mercedes over Ferrari, has been tipped as a future star of the sport, but an elevation in 2025 might be considered too early.

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