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Why Lewis Hamilton is Departing Mercedes For Ferrari

February 2, 2024 8:49 am in by
Mark Thompson Getty Images

Hamilton is not afraid to make bold decisions, and this is not the first time Ferrari has shown interest. But why now?

In 2012, he made the daring choice to leave McLaren, the team that brought him into Formula 1 and helped him win his first world title in only his second season. He joined Mercedes, who were a midfield team at the time, on a three-year deal. Many saw it as a huge risk. However, with hindsight, there was no risk at all, as he went on to win six drivers’ world championships and 82 Grand Prix victories in 11 seasons with Mercedes.

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The past couple of years have been incredibly tough for Hamilton. He lost the 2021 world championship, which would have been a record eighth, in heartbreaking circumstances. As he looked to bounce back from the heartbreak, he found himself in a car that couldn’t compete with the Red Bull team that went from strength to strength and for the very first time in his F1 career, he failed to win a race in a season in both 2022 or 2023.

Initially, Hamilton believed that Mercedes had the right people, resources, and development to return to the front. However, as their struggles continued, his belief started to fade. He will, of course, be cautious of Ferrari’s consistent failure to achieve the ultimate success since their constructors’ championship win in 2008.

But he also has a lot of trust in Ferrari Team Principal Fred Vasseur, who was Hamilton’s boss in junior formulae as they have remained close and continue to communicate regularly.

Hamilton knows that Ferrari has had its ups and downs with their aerodynamic packages over the years. However, their power unit has consistently been among the best. With the power unit set to be a crucial factor in 2026, and with Red Bull planning to introduce their own in-house designed power unit in partnership with Ford that same year, Hamilton sees an opportunity to beat the strong Red Bull outfit.

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According to some sources, the move may also be due to Loic Serra, the current head of performance at the Mercedes team. Reports suggest that both Hamilton and Serra believed a change in direction was necessary for the 2022 and 2023 cars. Confirmed in late 2023, Serra will also be joining Ferrari but at a yet to be determined point during the 2024 season.

There is also a sentimental aspect to all of this. Hamilton’s childhood hero, Ayrton Senna, had always been vocal about his intentions to race for Ferrari before his tragic accident in 1994.

Hamilton had also always dreamt of joining Ferrari, as do most Formula One drivers, but as he continued to achieve success at Mercedes, such a move seemed unlikely.

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Things have changed now, and it’s not guaranteed that Mercedes will regain their dominance in the sport. Success in Formula 1 is cyclical, and it often takes decades to return to the front once you’ve been knocked off your perch.

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