Lewis Hamilton will make a surprise move to Ferrari in 2025 after ending his 11-year partnership with Mercedes. The seven-time Formula 1 world champion has agreed a deal with Scuderia after activating an exit clause in his contract.
The 39-year-old has been linked with a possible move to Ferrari in the past, but has repeatedly insisted he would remain at Mercedes, hinting that he would end his career with the team and then take up an ambassadorial role with them . However, after reports in Italy revealed that he was in advanced talks with Ferrari, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff and technical director James Allison called a meeting with staff for Thursday at 2pm.
Hamilton is known to have held talks with Ferrari boss John Elkann, who has made clear his desire to bring him to the Scuderia, and the team admitted to having held discussions with Hamilton about the chances of the British driver taking over in 2019 switches to them.
Mercedes confirmed Hamilton’s departure at 7pm UK time on Thursday, saying the driver had activated a release option in his contract.
Hamilton said: “I have had a fantastic 11 years with this team and am so proud of what we have achieved together. Mercedes has been part of my life since I was 13. It’s a place I grew up in, so the decision to leave was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.
“But now is the right time for me to take this step and I’m looking forward to taking on a new challenge. I will be forever grateful for the incredible support of my Mercedes family, especially Toto (Wolff) for his friendship and guidance, and I want to reach a peak together.
“I am 100% committed to delivering my best possible performance this season and making my final year with the Silver Arrows an unforgettable experience.”
Toto Wolff, Mercedes team principal, said in a statement: “As far as the team-driver pairing is concerned, our relationship with Lewis is the most successful the sport has ever seen and we can look back on that with pride; Lewis will always be an important part of Mercedes motorsport history.
“However, we knew that our partnership would eventually come to a natural end, and that day has now come. We accept Lewis’ decision to seek a new challenge and it is exciting to reflect on our opportunities for the future. But at the moment we still have a season left and we are focused on racing to deliver a strong 2024.”
Hamilton agreed a new deal with Mercedes in August last year, extending his contract with the team until 2024 and 2025.
Hamilton has been with Mercedes since 2013 and won six of his seven world championships with the team. However, their car has been well behind the pace of the dominant Red Bull since 2022 and he was no longer able to challenge for the title. He has made his disappointment and frustration with their performance clear, but always insisted he was confident the team would come back. This season they are launching a completely new design to fill this gap.
However, a move to Ferrari is no guarantee of success. They also struggled with the new regulations and finished third in the constructors’ championship last year, behind Red Bull and Mercedes. They have not won a drivers’ title since Kimi Räikkönen in 2007 and have not won a constructors’ title since 2008.
At last year’s Monaco GP, Hamilton responded to rumors of a move to Ferrari by denying he had been in talks with the team. However, after his new contract with Mercedes was announced, he admitted he was already thinking about his future in the sport. “In the long term, I’m thinking about my next contract, what it will look like and how long it will last. I plan to stay here for a while,” he said.