It couldn’t be more exciting. It couldn’t be more improbable. Other than current world champion Max Verstappen who would you think the least likely to be racing on the same team as Charles Leclerc? You would be right to say seven time world champion Lewis Hamilton.
And yet the shock has burst upon the racing world. Late last week, news accelerated throughout the day before it was confirmed Hamilton had signed a multi-year contract to join Ferrari and become Charles Leclerc’s new team-mate from 2025 on a multi-year deal. The seven-time world champion will replace Carlos Sainz at the start of next year after 12 seasons with Mercedes, who are now looking for a replacement.
Even as late as mid-2023 Hamilton was thought to be glued to Mercedes as no place he would rather be. However, the siren call of Ferrari is always there. Who doesn’t dream of racing for the Prancing Horse. Look at the roster of just some who have driven for Ferrari. They are the sport’s all-time greats including Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton probably thought he might be at McLaren and then Mercedes indefinitely. He started at McLaren. He was part of the McLaren family in his early teens even.
But who doesn’t watch the Ferrari drivers and wonder what it would be like to be in red.
Vasseur and Hamilton Go Way Back
Ferrari chairman John Elkann would have been key in getting Hamilton on board and painting his vision for the future.
Elkann was the person who hooked Frederic Vasseur to replace Mattia Binotto as team principal at the start of 2023. Vasseur and Hamilton were a winning duo early on in their careers. Vasseur was Hamilton’s team principal when the British driver competed in the GP2 championship, now known as Formula 2, in 2006.
Hamilton won the title on debut before joining F1 the following year with McLaren and his relationship with Vasseur has been solid ever since.
Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO of the Mercedes Racing Team is reported to reveal that Hamilton felt he needed change after being there for 12 years and that he was deciding to sign a long-term contract with Ferrari and have a goal at the end of his career. This is notwithstanding the fact Hamilton is Mercedes most successful driver ever.
Looking To 2026
39-year-old Hamilton will get a year with Ferrari in 2025 before the highly anticipated 2026 season. There will be major changes to the technical regulations then that could see racing leadership change significantly.
Red Bull will enter a new partnership with Ford in that year. Who knows what the future holds. There are major uncertainties and Hamilton seems to be putting more faith into Ferrari rather than Mercedes to be a winner on the racing track in 2026 and beyond.
Leclerc and Hamilton or Hamilton and Leclerc!
In 2025, the Italian Ferrari team will also of course be represented by Charles Leclerc, who recently signed a new contract with the Scuderia.
And why not. Leclerc is potentially, on an outright qualifying lap the fastest driver out there at the moment – even including Verstappen according to those in the know. Leclerc is blindingly fast and he drives near the limit. But it’s a wonderful combination with seven time world champion Lewis who knows how to bring the trophies home.
Go Charles, Go Lewis!