It’s the end of an era in Formula One as Lewis Hamilton agrees to leave the Mercedes-AMG team at the end of the 2024 season.
Lewis Hamilton will leave the Mercedes-AMG team with whom he has forged one of the most dominant partnerships in Formula 1 history at the end of the 2024 season to make a sensational switch to Ferrari.
The move will see the most successful F1 driver of all time completing only half of his current two-year deal before moving to the Scuderia, taking the place of Carlos Sainz and joining forces with Charles Leclerc, who has recently signed a multi-year contract extension.
Though this is a shocking move, Hamilton is no stranger to dramatic transfers. At the end of 2012 he left McLaren, the squad he had been a part of since he was 13 and where he secured his first F1 world championship, to move to Mercedes – a team that had achieved one solitary win in three seasons since its F1 return.
However, it proved to be an inspired decision; Hamilton went on to secure 82 wins, 78 pole positions and a further six world championships with the Brakley-based squad. As a result, he holds the records for the most wins (103) and pole positions (104) in F1 history, and his seven world championships is also a record which he shares with Michael Schumacher.
However, the last two seasons have not been so easy. Mercedes has struggled to adapt to the new ground effect regulations introduced for 2022, which has seen Red Bull and Max Verstappen blow the competition away. Hamilton was the best non-Red Bull driver last year, but scored 241 points fewer than the Dutch triple world champion. Despite his strong finishing position, Ferrari was often closer to Red Bull on pure pace; the only non-Red Bull victory all year came courtesy of Sainz at the Singapore Grand Prix. Ferrari also took seven pole positions compared to Hamilton’s single pole for Mercedes in Hungary.
With the 2026 season introducing significant rule changes, Hamilton, much like he did in 2013 with Mercedes, is banking on Ferrari adapting to the new regulations better than the rest.
Where Sainz will now go remains to be seen. A straight swap with Hamilton to Mercedes could prove to be the obvious choice; however, Red Bull could prove to be another possibility, with the contract of under-pressure Sergio Perez up for renewal at the end of 2024.