More than a day after the most bombastic transfer in Formula 1 since Ayrton Senna’s move to Williams in 1994, the behind-the-scenes of Lewis Hamilton’s move from Mercedes to Ferrari from the 2025 season are beginning to emerge. Along with them, the reasons why the seven-time champion agreed to leave the comfort zone of the German team, where he will turn 12 years old in 2024, to fulfill a childhood dream and take on the challenge of leading the biggest team in the biggest category of world motorsport in a of the worst phases in its history. The same one that has fans as passionate – and who charge as much – as those of a large, traditional football team: the famous tifosi. And it urgently needs victories and titles, as it is going through one of the biggest fasts in its history – 16 years without winning the Constructors’ World Championship and 17 without the Drivers’ World Championship.
Rafael Lopes tells the details of Lewis Hamilton’s transfer to Ferrari in 2025
O Flying down brings some details of the agreement between Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari. The Italian brand has not hidden its intention of counting on the seven-time champion for some years now. Some flirting had already happened, but it hadn’t gone any further. However, it was in 2023, shortly before the Englishman signed his contract renewal with Mercedes, that a more serious attack was made. It is led by none other than the American John Elkann, CEO of Exor, the Agnelli family investment fund that controls Ferrari. He had already been responsible for taking none other than Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus, which also belongs to the group. The intention was to have Hamilton at Ferrari in 2024, but the negotiation did not progress. The Englishman signed a contract with Mercedes for two years (we now know for one with the option of another), but the channel with Elkann was opened. And they’ve stayed in touch ever since.
At this point, everyone believed that Hamilton would be stuck with Mercedes until the end of 2025. During the Formula 1 vacation, however, Hamilton and Elkann spoke again. Frustrated with the German team’s prospects for the next two years and also with the German automaker’s refusal to make him a brand ambassador until 2035, the seven-time champion began to seriously consider fulfilling his childhood dream: racing for Ferrari. The conversations progressed well and an agreement was reached: Hamilton signed a two-season contract with the option of one more with the Italian team that will make him the highest paid driver currently in F1. The Englishman will receive a total of US$100 million per season (R$500 million), with US$80 million (R$400 million) as salary and US$20 million (R$100 million) as a bonus for the club. “Mission 44”, an initiative by the seven-time champion that supports the inclusion of young people from social minorities in motorsport. For comparison purposes, three-time champion Max Verstappen currently receives a maximum of US$70 million (R$350 million) per season from RBR, but only if he meets all the targets stipulated in the contract.
Furthermore, Hamilton will continue to have the freedom to support the social causes he wishes, in the same way as the current contract with Mercedes provides. And take the actions and attitudes that you think are most appropriate for this. Still in this field, but in financial terms, Elkann also offered an investment fund that will be created by Exor for the seven-time champion’s projects off the track. The value of this? €250 million, around R$1.3 billion. All of this, which is in the contract signed by the Englishman with Ferrari, helped a lot in his convincing process. However, it was the Italian team’s sporting project that made Hamilton accept the challenge of rebuilding an extremely traditional team, bigger than Formula 1 itself.
Hamilton will arrive at a Ferrari that is undergoing a restructuring process led by Frenchman Frédéric Vasseur, team boss since December 2022. And he will be a key player in this gear. New names have already started to be captured in the market: the most important of them is Frenchman Loic Serra, former performance director at Mercedes, with more than 20 years of experience in F1, but who will only be able to take on the role in 2025. The seven-time champion will also have carte blanche to bring his trusted names to strengthen the structure of the Italian team, which currently has several bottlenecks. The best known of them would be that of the Englishman Peter Bonnington, known as Bono, Lewis’ racing engineer at Mercedes. A proposal should be made soon. The process is reminiscent of Michael Schumacher’s arrival at Ferrari in 1996, when the German, still two-time champion, brought almost the entire technical team from two-time champion Benetton in 1994 and 1995. The most important names? English engineer Ross Brawn and South African designer Rory Byrne, who were joined by French boss Jean Todt. This was the technical basis that underpinned the dominance of the Italian team between 2000 and 2004.
Paintball and Toto Wolff’s surprise
On the Mercedes side, Lewis Hamilton’s bomb took everyone by surprise. Including boss Toto Wolff. He revealed that he even believed in the possibility of the seven-time champion activating the clause that freed him from the second year of his contract with the team, but confessed that the timing took him completely by surprise, more than a year before the actual start of the 2025 season. The manager, in an interview with the English Sky Sports, Hamilton informed him of the decision in a cafe at his home in Oxford, on January 31, the day before the official announcement by the press. In other words, the Austrian had to rush to organize everything and inform the team of the seven-time champion’s decision before everything was completely leaked in the press and the official announcement was imminent. So much so that an emergency meeting was called at 2pm local time (11am Brasília time) at the headquarters in Brackley, England, and Toto Wolff had to participate via video conference, such was the urgency of the matter.
Hamilton, in turn, did not let his trusted team within Mercedes find out the news from management, the press or official statements. On Thursday, the driver took his closest employees to play paintball in Brackley, close to the German team’s factory. During the event, the seven-time champion informed them that he was going to Ferrari for the 2025 season. A class act from the driver, who was not satisfied with the treatment given by the team management, who did not give him the long contract renewal that he intended last year. On the other hand, Hamilton has always respected and had a good relationship with his engineers and mechanics throughout the 11 years – so far – of his time with Mercedes in Formula 1.
Harmony with Leclerc and enormous challenge
Inside Ferrari, as expected, the news was extremely celebrated. Frédéric Vasseur, who led Lewis Hamilton to the GP2 title in 2006, has always been a signing enthusiast. The point of resistance, of course, could be Charles Leclerc, the first driver trained in Maranello by the Ferrari Academy to be hired as an official driver of the team in Formula 1. However, the Monegasque, who has just renewed his contract (three years with the option of more two) reacted well to the news and thinks that the challenge of facing the seven-time champion within the same team could help him evolve in his career. It is worth remembering that Hamilton and Leclerc get along well and have a great relationship off the track.
A huge challenge awaits Lewis Hamilton in 2025 at Ferrari. The Italian brand made sure to provide the seven-time champion with everything he asked for, so that he has the best environment and working conditions to lead the team. Cavallino Rampante back to the glory days. This means that the responsibility for performance during the period in which Hamilton remains in the team lies with the Englishman, who will have carte blanche to give input on everything within there. For the good or for the bad. The Englishman definitely left his comfort zone. At the same time, this was never a problem. Now it’s time to see how this marriage, perhaps the most important in the history of Formula 1, will unfold from 2025 onwards.