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On Thursday, a jaw-dropping rumor sent shockwaves throughout the sports world: Lewis Hamilton, the living Formula 1 legend and global superstar was said to be joining Scuderia Ferrari in 2025, ending his highly successful 12-year partnership with Mercedes. Hours later, rumor was fact: Ferrari shared the news via X, Mercedes confirmed it, and Carlos Sainz (whose seat Hamilton will take at the Prancing Horse) shared that he’d be on the move in 2025, too. In a statement, Hamilton called leaving Mercedes “one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make.”
The seven-time World Drivers Champion, who turned 39 last month, has long been linked to the Italian squad, but those rumors always seemed more like silly-season fun than anything rooted in reality. After all, Hamilton has long said he expected to finish his career with Mercedes, where he’s always had a strong relationship with billionaire team principle Toto Wolff.
But now it’s real. The Lewis Hamilton/Ferrari partnership represents a merging of arguably the two biggest names in motorsports, with the proud Italian brand taking a gamble on an aging superstar. But regardless of how it turns out, the move is poised to shake up the entire sport like nothing else before it, altering Formula 1’s landscape in a number of ways. Here’s how.
Title Number Eight?
It’s no secret that Hamilton is in the back stretch of his career, with the window to win more championships closing fast. In fact, he hasn’t even won a race in two full seasons—the longest drought of his career.
The switch to Ferrari, then, suggests that Hamilton is optimistic about what the Prancing Horse is selling him (and less than enthused with what he’s seen from Mercedes this offseason). The move will also reunite him with Frédéric Vasseur, Ferrari’s current team principal, who guided Hamilton to championships when he was just a kid in Formula Two and Formula Three. Working together with Vasseur for one last title run would serve as a storybook ending to Hamilton’s career.
Of course, there are big question marks, chief among them how Hamilton will mesh with Ferrari’s oft-maligned strategists, and how he’ll get along with future teammate Charles Leclerc—for now the face of the team, and the proud owner of a recent contract extension, too. Hamilton has clashed with teammates in the past: famously with Nico Rosberg in 2016, and even George Russell at times just last season. Brace yourselves, Charles Leclerc fans, for more than a little drama in 2025.
And finally, there’s the Tifosi—a catchall Italian term for Ferrari’s notoriously ruthless fan base, who expect nothing less than a championship. They have long booed Hamilton, treating him like public enemy number one at Italian races, and quickly soured on prior Ferrari drivers Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel when both failed to produce titles. They’re some of the most passionate fans in sports, and how they’ll receive Hamilton will be fascinating to watch.
The Driver Merry-Go-Round Is Open for Business
Silly season in Formula 1—when drivers swap teams and lobby for open spots—typically takes place during the sport’s summer break. But with the Hamilton news dropping on February 1, we’re in store for one of the wildest, drama-filled seasons in Formula 1 history, with plenty of backdoor politicking and cut-throat tactics playing out as the rest of the 2025 grid takes shape. If you enjoy Drive to Survive a bit more than the sport’s on-track action, this will be a fun season for you.
With Carlos Sainz set to be a free agent, will Red Bull make a move and finally cut ties with Sergio Perez? Will the sly, 42-year-old Fernando Alonso snatch up Hamilton’s vacant Mercedes seat, or will the German brand instead tap its Formula 2 phenom, Andrea Kimi Antonelli (whose name just screams Formula 1)?
Then there’s the back of the grid. How will this impact fan favorite Daniel Ricciardo’s bid to reclaim his old Red Bull spot? Could Williams standout Alex Albon suddenly emerge as a contender for the Mercedes or Red Bull seats? And could the recently retired Sebastian Vettel, who hasn’t completely ruled out a return to the sport, emerge as a dark-horse candidate?
These questions and more will be answered as the year rolls along—and we’re still more than a month away from the 2024 season even starting.
From an entertainment standpoint, Hamilton’s move to Ferrari should generate a ton of renewed intrigue in a sport that could really use it. Only a few years into the Drive to Survive era, some pundits had already begun to wonder whether Formula 1, with its predictable races, had peaked—particularly in the U.S., where TV ratings had begun to stagnate. And with Formula 1 rejecting a bid from the legendary Andretti racing family to become the 11th team on the grid just days ago, fans were lamenting the sport’s long-term vision.
At the end of the day, Formula 1 is just as much spectacle as sport, with off-track drama fueling the races themselves. Now, that spectacle should be ramped up for the next few years. Sure, Max Verstappen will likely run away with the 2024 title, but there will be so many more plotlines to keep an eye on, particularly how Hamilton will navigate a lame duck season alongside Wolff and Russell, and whether Sainz will make life difficult for Leclerc in his final season in Maranello. It should add up to a nice shot in the arm for Formula 1 as it gets set to begin a new season.
Buckle up: The 2024 season—filled with more Hamilton drama as the days and weeks go on—is already shaping up to be a wild ride.
Originally Appeared on GQ