Motorsport: Lewis Hamilton makes shock switch to Ferrari from 2025

Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton will make a shock switch from Mercedes to Ferrari in 2025, as replacement for Spanish driver Carlos Sainz.

Mercedes have confirmed Hamilton has activated a release clause and will leave at the end of the 2024 season. Ferrari have also announced Hamilton will join them on a multi-year contract.

"I have had an amazing 11 years with this team and I'm so proud of what we have achieved together," said Hamilton. "Mercedes has been part of my life since I was 13 years old.

Hamilton in pursuit of Carlos Sainz at the Bahrain Grand Prix last year.
Hamilton in pursuit of Carlos Sainz at the Bahrain Grand Prix last year. Photo credit: Getty Images

"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, but the time is right for me to take this step and I'm excited to be taking on a new challenge."

Hamilton, 39, has been with Mercedes since 2013 and won his first title with McLaren in 2008. His current contract is due to expire at the end of next year and a move to Ferrari would surely extend that into the sport's new engine era in 2026.

The Briton has been linked with Maranello repeatedly during his career, particularly when his contract has been up for renewal, but he signed a new two-year deal with Mercedes last August.

Hamilton says he wants to finish his time at Mercedes on a high and is "100 percent committed to delivering the best performance I can this season and making my last year with the Silver Arrows one to remember".

Despite his loyalty to Mercedes, Hamilton has remained close to Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur, after winning Formula Three and GP2 (now Formula Two) championships with the Frenchman's ART team as a junior in 2005 and 2006.

Last August, Vasseur said he talked to Hamilton at every race weekend.

In 2019, Wolff said Hamilton and Mercedes had discussed the possibility of the driver one day racing for Ferrari, and such a move would be no drama.

"You have to simply acknowledge that probably it's in every driver's head to drive at Ferrari one day," the Austrian said. "It's the most iconic, historic Formula One brand out there and I totally respect if a driver has the desire to drive at Ferrari.

"Even within the team, we have discussed it, and with Lewis, we have discussed it and we have agreed on the topic."

The most successful Formula One driver of all time, with a record 103 wins and 104 pole positions in a career that started in 2007, Hamilton has not won a race since December 2021, as Mercedes struggled to match Red Bull and Max Verstappen.

Verstappen, 26, has won the last three titles and starts 2024 as favourite for a fourth. The Dutchman has a contract to the end of 2028.

Hamilton would join Charles Leclerc at Ferrari, with the Italian team announcing that the Monegasque has signed on for several more seasons. McLaren also ensured Lando Norris, seen by some as a possible future replacement for Hamilton, was off the market by announcing a new deal.

A move to Ferrari would likely be Hamilton's Formula One swansong and a calculated risk, with the 2026 rule changes leaving everyone entering new territory.

The possibility of a record eighth title, if not with Mercedes this season, with a third team would also be a sensational step.