Changing tides in Formula 1
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has recently announced his controversial move to Scuderia Ferrari for the 2025 season.

With seven world championships and the most race wins in Formula One (F1) history, Lewis Hamilton is one of the most recognizable figures in F1. Hamilton and Mercedes-Benz have become synonymous as the start of the 2024 season marks Hamilton’s 11 years with AMG Petronas Mercedes. However, the weeks ahead of the start of the 2024 season were struck with controversy when Hamilton unexpectedly announced that he will be moving to Scuderia Ferrari for the 2025 season. As the 2024 season begins—Hamilton’s last season with Mercedes—there is still speculation as to why he moved to Ferrari. 

When Hamilton joined the Mercedes team in 2013, he had won one world championship during his six years with the McLaren team. Hamilton’s move to Mercedes seemed to be the right decision, as he won six world championships in just 11 years, paving the way for the era of Mercedes dominance.

With newer and younger drivers on the grid, such as Max Verstappen, the era of Mercedes dominance has since been replaced with the emergence of Red Bull dominance. This transition was best portrayed during the controversial and highly debated outcome of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, in which the presence of a safety car, a breach of regulation, and a final pitstop led to Verstappen overtaking Hamilton, robbing Hamilton of what would have been his eight world championship. Verstappen has since won two more world championships since 2021, establishing the era of Red Bull. 

During the 2023 season, Red Bull drivers won all but one grand prix, demonstrating the team’s and its drivers’ sheer power. Hamilton, who hopes to win an eight world championship, may have lost faith in Mercedes as it became clear that Red Bull Racing was operating at levels incomparable to any other team on the grid. Although Ferrari has consistently ended each season in the top six constructors, their ability to compete for world champion is questionable, as they haven’t won a world championship in 16 years. Possible feelings of stagnation at Mercedes may have led to Hamilton finally deciding to explore other options. 

A more concrete reason Hamilton decided to move lies in the contracts offered by Mercedes and Ferrari. Hamilton’s primary request for his Mercedes contract was a pay increase to US$100 million per season. Hamilton’s current contract with Mercedes is worth US$55 million per year. In comparison, his contract with Ferrari allegedly offered US$100 million per year for two years and a joint investment of US$272 million into Hamilton’s Foundation, Mission 44

In the famously quoted words of four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, “Everyone is a Ferrari fan, even if they say they aren’t a Ferrari fan.” Hamilton expressed throughout his time karting as a child that his dream was to race for Ferrari. Ferrari, the oldest F1 team, has been home to many, such as Michael Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen, Niki Lauda, Fernando Alonso, and Sebastian Vettel. 

The news of Hamilton moving to Ferrari shocked its fans as they expected the current second driver, Carlos Sainz Jr., to remain at Ferrari until the start of his alleged Audi contract in 2026. Despite Sainz Jr.’s future remaining uncertain, his performance hasn’t staggered as he was the only non-Red Bull driver to finish on the podium at the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix.

During the first week of March, a rumor claimed that Verstappen might be moving to Mercedes. Verstappen’s current Red Bull contract expires in 2028. However, there is a clause that allows him to switch teams whenever Red Bull Advisor Helmut Marko leaves the team. 

Regarding his decision, Hamilton told AutoSport, “I have had an amazing 11 years with this team and I’m so proud of what we have achieved together. Mercedes has been part of my life since I was 13 years old. 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.” 

Fans are happy to support Hamilton as the 2024 season continues. Whether or not he wins the Eight World Championship, he has already secured his spot as one of F1’s most legendary drivers. 

Staff Writer (Volume 49) — Kuicmar is completing a Forensic Biology specialization and a Creative Writing minor. This is Kuicmar’s first year as a staff writer for The Medium. She usually writes for the Opinions and Arts and Entertainment sections. She can’t wait to share her thoughts, opinions, and poetry. When she’s not studying or writing, you can find her watching movies, shooting arrows in archery, updating her Letterboxd, watching F1 content, reading NASA articles, or listening to music. You can find Kuicmar on her Instagram and Linkedin.


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