Lewis Hamilton’s F1 switch from Mercedes to Ferrari confirmed

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Lewis Hamilton’s monumental F1 switch from Mercedes to Ferrari has been confirmed with both teams making announcements in the early hours on Friday morning following half a day of wild speculation.

The 39-year-old Brit, a seven-time F1 champion, will join the Italian team for the 2025 season, despite agreeing to a two-year deal with Mercedes last season.

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The bombshell move will see Hamilton partner Charles Leclerc at Ferrari, with Carlos Sainz also announcing he will exit the team at the conclusion of the 2024 season.

“Scuderia Ferrari is pleased to announce that Lewis Hamilton will be joining the team in 2025, on a multi-year contract,” Ferrari said in a statement on Friday.

Mercedes said: “The Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team and Lewis Hamilton will part ways at the end of the 2024 season.

“Lewis has activated a release option in the contract announced last August and this season will therefore be his last driving for the Silver Arrows.

“The news brings an end to what is currently a 17-year long relationship in F1 with Mercedes-Benz and an 11-year long partnership with the works team.”

Mercedes Team Principal and CEO Toto Wolff was glowing of Hamilton’s time with the team.

“In terms of a team-driver pairing, our relationship with Lewis has become the most successful the sport has seen, and that’s something we can look back on with pride; Lewis will always be an important part of Mercedes motorsport history,” Wolf said.

“However, we knew our partnership would come to a natural end at some point, and that day has now come.

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

“But for now, we still have one season to go, and we are focused on going racing to deliver a strong 2024.”

Hamilton thanked Mercedes for an incredible partnership but said the time was right for him to make a move away.

“I have had an amazing 11 years with this team and I’m so proud of what we have achieved together,” Hamilton said.

“Mercedes has been part of my life since I was 13 years old. It’s a place where I have grown up, so making the decision to leave was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make.

“But 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 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.”

Hamilton has been linked with a switch to F1’s most famous team for a number of seasons but had always previously pledged his loyalty to Mercedes and their boss Wolff.

Wolff and the team’s designer, James Allison, have both recently agreed to extensions to their contracts with Mercedes in what was viewed as a final throw of the dice to convince Hamilton to stay on.

However, Hamilton will now activate a break clause in his contract which will allow him to leave Mercedes at the end of this season.

Hamilton has been without a win since December of 2021 – the same season he lost the title to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Since then, Mercedes has delivered two dud cars that have both been plagued by problems, meaning he has been unable to fight for wins – or titles.

Ferrari chairman John Elkann has been a long-term admirer of Hamilton’s talent and the two have held talks in the past.

It was reported in previous years that Ferrari had offered him around $78 million to switch teams.

Hamilton’s move makes sense, as he offers Ferrari their chance to fight for championships.

He has also worked with Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur in the past when he drove for his ART Grand Prix squad in GP2.

The move mean that Carlos Sainz is now out of a seat in brutal fashion – although he has been heavily linked with a switch to the new Audi team, who will takeover at Sauber.

“Following today’s news, Scuderia Ferrari and myself will part ways at the end of 2024,” Sainz said.

“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.”

Meanwhile, Mercedes would need to find a replacement for Hamilton.

The deal will see Hamilton remain with the Silver Arrows until the end of 2024, which could make for an awkward season ahead.

Upon signing his new deal last summer, Hamilton said: “We have never been hungrier to win. We have learnt from every success but also every setback.

“We continue to chase our dreams; we continue to fight no matter the challenge and we will win again. I’m grateful to the team who have supported me both on and off the track.

“Our story isn’t finished, we are determined to achieve more together and we won’t stop until we do.”

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate George Russell is also under contract until the end of 2025, while Mick Schumacher served as the Silver Arrows’ reserve driver last season.

Earlier this week, Hamilton admitted to having a “love-hate” relationship with Formula 1 and even hinted that he could retire in the next 12 months.

Addressing his previous assertion several years ago that he would not still be in the sport at 40, he told Formule1.nl : “That is still possible.

“I have no set plan for the future – I still feel fit and still enjoy what I do.

“I’ve now learned that you should never say never in life.

“I never thought that, after such a long time in Formula One, I would still feel the same love for the sport.

“It is a love-hate relationship – at times you love it more than at others.

“I think there comes a point when you’ve had enough. But the love is still there.”

– with The Sun