According to BBC Sport, Lewis Hamilton is set to make a surprising switch from Mercedes to Ferrari for the 2025 season.
Multiple sources have reported that there is an agreement for seven-time world champion Hamilton to join Charles Leclerc at Maranello starting in 2025.
Ferrari and Mercedes have declined to provide any statements.
Mercedes F1 staff were informed during a meeting with team principal Toto Wolff and technical director James Allison on Thursday afternoon.
An official announcement regarding the move is expected to be made as early as Thursday evening.
Hamilton, 39, agreed to a fresh two-year contract with Mercedes just last summer, but it appears he will be departing after only one year.
Reports emerged on Thursday in the Italian and Spanish media about the potential move of Hamilton to Ferrari in 2025. BBC Sport has since confirmed the move through multiple sources.
Whispers of Hamilton potentially joining Ferrari have persisted over time. So far, previous reports have lacked credibility, but multiple sources claim that this time it’s different.
The Hamilton deal has unfolded rapidly. Ferrari has been engaged in discussions regarding a contract extension with Carlos Sainz, whose current deal is set to expire at the conclusion of this season.
However, Ferrari president John Elkann soon became aware of the potential of signing Hamilton and took immediate action to secure his signature. The two have a friendly relationship and have crossed paths at various social events in recent years.
Hamilton clinched his seventh world title in 2020 and recently inked a fresh two-year contract with Mercedes, solidifying his impressive 13-year tenure with the team.
Ferrari acknowledged engaging in discussions with the reigning world champion, Hamilton, in 2019 regarding the possibility of him joining their team at a later time.
Red Bull has been the dominant force in the sport for the past two seasons, following the controversial 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. In that race, Hamilton was defeated by Max Verstappen due to the actions of former FIA race director Michael Masi, who disregarded the rules by implementing a late-race safety car period.
Ever since that time, his burning determination to right a perceived wrong and secure his eighth championship has been his driving force.
By the end of the previous season, Hamilton seemed uncertain about his confidence in Mercedes’ potential to bounce back from two challenging years and compete with Red Bull.
During an interview with BBC Sport and other selected outlets at the season’s final race in Abu Dhabi, he expressed his belief in having a guiding light. It’s been a while since we’ve had that. However, reaching our destination is not a straightforward path.
“We have gained a deeper understanding of the car.” They have made significant advancements behind the scenes. So naturally, I’m optimistic, but I’m not going to get my hopes up.”
Ferrari has faced challenges in recent seasons, and the two teams were engaged in a fierce competition for second place in the constructors’ championship last year. Ultimately, Mercedes emerged as the victor, even though Ferrari had the faster car towards the end of the season.
Hamilton’s decision is set to create a major impact in the world of F1, much like the ripples caused by his switch from McLaren to Mercedes back in 2013.
Initially met with scepticism, Hamilton’s choice ultimately proved to be incredibly astute. He and his team went on to establish their dominance in F1 starting from the 2014 season, solidifying Hamilton’s status as the most accomplished driver in the history of the sport.
Many drivers are drawn to the allure of Ferrari, the sport’s most iconic and nostalgic team. Up until this point, Hamilton appeared to be unaffected by recent developments. He has expressed his desire to continue his partnership with Mercedes for the long haul, and the two have collaborated on various initiatives, particularly in the realm of diversity and racial equality.
However, the opportunity to conclude his career by driving for Ferrari appears to be incredibly enticing – a path that Hamilton’s childhood hero Ayrton Senna had also intended to pursue before his tragic accident while racing for Williams in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.
Hamilton’s decision is set to have a significant impact on the F1 driver market.
Mercedes is reportedly searching for a potential replacement for Hamilton once the season concludes, while Sainz of Ferrari may also be on the lookout for new career opportunities.
Aside from Fernando Alonso, whose Aston Martin contract is set to end this season, none of the well-known top drivers would be accessible to partner with George Russell at Mercedes.
Max Verstappen has a long-term contract with Red Bull, while Leclerc is dedicated to Ferrari and Lando Norris has recently agreed to a new deal with McLaren.
Analysis – Is Hamilton’s latest move on point?
Hamilton’s decision to join Ferrari has sent shockwaves through the world of Formula 1, making it one of the most significant and unexpected developments in recent years.
Hamilton has consistently expressed his desire to remain with Mercedes for the long term, drawing parallels to the late Stirling Moss, who served as a Mercedes ambassador throughout his lifetime.
However, circumstances have shifted and Hamilton has made the decision that he cannot resist the appeal of Ferrari. The team’s rich history, legendary status, and captivating aura have always been irresistible to Formula 1 drivers.
Hamilton continues to shine as the leading figure in F1, boasting an unrivalled track record. His departure from Mercedes comes as a significant setback for the team, especially considering he had recently committed to a new two-year contract.
His decision is a strong show of support for Ferrari’s team principal Frederic Vasseur, whom Hamilton has maintained a close relationship with since their time together in the junior categories. At the same time, it reflects a lack of confidence in Mercedes.
Both have faced challenges against Red Bull in the past two years due to the introduction of new rules. However, Hamilton seems to have taken notice of Ferrari’s improvement during the latter part of the previous season.
Understanding the context is crucial in order to fully grasp the reasons behind this decision and its potential impact.
Hamilton was deeply affected by the events of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. He feels that his chances of winning an eighth world title were unfairly taken away due to the race director’s mishandling of the safety car during the race.
Ever since, his motivation has been fueled by a strong determination to seek justice, although he hasn’t explicitly expressed it in public.
In 2012, Mercedes made a remarkable judgement that proved doubters wrong. Their decision to move from McLaren led to the most successful period an F1 team and driver have ever had together.
Is he once again correct, or has he made a choice that he will later come to regret?