It is now official. Lewis Hamilton will become a Ferrari driver after nearly two decades driving Mercedes engines and for the team itself for 12 seasons.
He leaves Brackley having been champion with him 6 times as a driver, with 103 wins all with Brixworth engines. A lifetime in the silver and black of this team and McLaren will come to an end in 11 months.
He will begin the new chapter in his massive career in 2025, when he will be 40 years old (with a birthday on January 7, he will reach that age before making his Scuderia debut).
Despite his age, however, the only thing certain is that Hamilton is not going to Maranello to have a quiet, full of Italian passion and temperament closing his career. He wants to open up a new challenge in his huge career, which is not lacking in anything, but still fits one last contract with a team he has been close to many times in the past.
In 2018, 2022, 2023, Hamilton went to Maranello, talked to the team officials, but the presence of Fred Vasseur, the man who gave him opportunities in the minor categories and with whom he became GP2 champion in 2016, as well as Ferrari's continued strengthening of the technical staff with people from both Red Bull and Mercedes finally convinced the Briton to make the move to the Italian north.
Hamilton can only win from this decision, which is quite similar to the one he took in 2012 to leave McLaren for the then-under-construction Mercedes. He is leaving an organization that was recently crowned champion, that believes in him and supports him, to go into the unknown, but that is building, recovering, seems to have good foundations.
If he succeeds, if he becomes champion, if he brings it back to success, then he will be the savior, he will be the man who put the most successful team in F1 history back on the map.
The two drivers sitting on the edge of the sofa in Mexico in 2023 will share the same garage in 2025.
If he fails, and it happens because of the team's performance, he will be judged, perhaps censured, but his legacy, or – if you prefer – his legend will not be tarnished. He made the step up to Maranello, fulfilling the dream of almost every driver who has ever raced in F1, but he would go on to be a 7x champion and over 100 times winner.
He is not in the position that Sebastian Vettel found himself in 2015, at a much younger age and with many years ahead of him, nor does he come as her only good driver – that will be Charles Leclerc, who should now be glad that this challenge is coming in his house.
Indeed, he won't be the de facto no.1 as it seemed last week when it was announced that he renewed for 5 years with the Scuderia, but he will have (we guess) two seasons with the statistically leading driver in history. He will be able to measure himself against him, to learn, to compete with him, to fill his notebook with what a man of so many performances has to impart to him. And he should know that Hamilton is coming for a while – he will take it upon himself to take the team to the top if the 7k fails to help it.
The whole Hamilton-Ferrari move is already whetting the appetite for 2025. The dynamics at Maranello are hard to read at the moment, and at the same time terribly interesting. What the Brit can do in red is equally unknown and interesting. It's one of those moments where we'll remember where we were when they were announced.