Seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton will leave Mercedes for Ferrari at the end the 2024 season in a shocking shake-up for the auto racing league, the teams announced Thursday.
Hamilton “activated a release option” in his contract, Mercedes said, following an 11-year partnership 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,” team Principal and CEO Toto Wolff said in a statement. “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,” Wolff said.
Hamilton first signed with Mercedes in 2013 and went on to win six of his seven world titles with the team between 2014 and 2020.
Ferrari said in a statement Thursday it was “pleased to announce that Lewis Hamilton will be joining the team in 2025, on a multi-year contract.”
The prospect of Hamilton joining Ferrari has been the subject of intense speculation in recent years, although Hamilton has previously said he intends to stay with Mercedes for the rest of his life. Media reports earlier Thursday indicated the switch could be imminent.
“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,” Hamilton said in a statement. “But the time is right for me to take this step and I’m excited to be taking on a new challenge.”
“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,” he added.
In August of last year, Hamilton signed a new two-year deal with Mercedes to keep him on board through the 2025 season, although it’s not clear whether the contract included an exit clause.
In joining Ferrari, Hamilton is likely to replace Spanish driver Carlos Sainz given that his teammate, Charles Leclerc, recently signed a fresh contract extension.
The start of the next Formula 1 season gets underway in Bahrain from Feb. 29.
Lewis Hamilton’s departure from Mercedes to join Ferrari has sent shockwaves through the Formula 1 world, marking one of the most surprising moves in recent motorsport history. Hamilton, a seven-time world champion and synonymous with Mercedes’ dominance in the hybrid era, stunned fans and pundits alike with his decision to switch teams.
For years, Hamilton has been the face of Mercedes, forging an indelible legacy with the team, clinching multiple championships, and breaking numerous records along the way. His move to Ferrari represents a seismic shift, not only in terms of team dynamics but also in the competitive landscape of Formula 1.
Joining Ferrari, a team with its own storied history and passionate fanbase, presents Hamilton with a fresh challenge and an opportunity to leave an even greater mark on the sport. The allure of donning the famous scarlet red overalls and racing for the Prancing Horse is irresistible for any driver, let alone one of Hamilton’s caliber.
Speculation surrounding Hamilton’s future had been rife for months, but few anticipated this dramatic move. The announcement has left Mercedes scrambling to find a replacement for their star driver while Ferrari fans are abuzz with excitement at the prospect of Hamilton joining their ranks.
Hamilton’s decision promises to inject new intrigue and excitement into Formula 1, reshuffling the deck of contenders and setting the stage for an electrifying season ahead. As the sport braces itself for this monumental shift, all eyes will be on Hamilton as he embarks on a new chapter in his illustrious career, aiming to conquer fresh challenges and etch his name into the annals of Ferrari’s rich history.