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Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari in 2025: The knowns and unknowns so far in Formula 1's blockbuster transfer

The news that Lewis Hamilton is joining Ferrari for 2025 has sent shockwaves through F1 and prompted a whole array of questions about the move's timing and its implications; while we wait for the key players to speak publicly, here are some of the early big talking points around this move

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Damon Hill and Natalie Pinkham debate whether Lewis Hamilton's move to Ferrari is the biggest in history on a special edition of The F1 Show.

Question 1: Why now and why Ferrari over Mercedes?

Largely unanswered

It's the number one question that has been on everyone's lips since the first reports of the stunning switch broke - just why has Lewis Hamilton decided that now is the moment in his career to sign for Ferrari and end what has been a record-breaking partnership with Mercedes at the end of this year?

After all, this bombshell decision comes just five months after Hamilton committed to a new Mercedes contract on what the team announced at the time was a deal for both the 2024 and 2025 seasons.

Despite completing his second win-less season in a row at the disposed former champions, Hamilton still spoke passionately in the final months of last season about his faith in the former champions' ability to get back to the front of F1 and take on Red Bull, saying that their abilities were "beyond proof".

So what, if anything, has changed? We won't get a proper understanding until we hear from Hamilton in person at either Mercedes' car launch, on February 14, or during pre-season testing from February 21 in Bahrain.

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Sky F1's Martin Brundle believes Lewis Hamilton might have become dissatisfied at Mercedes and could be seeking a new challenge at Ferrari.

All we have to go on so far are his comments contained in the Mercedes press release announcing his end-of-year exit, in which Hamilton states: "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."

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Hamilton turned 39 at the start of January and so will be 40 by the time he arrives in Maranello in what will be the final year of the current regulation era before the big change with all-new engines for 2026. That, theoretically, is a clean slate for everyone. Are Ferrari a better bet than Mercedes or is there more to it for Lewis than that?

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Following the news Lewis Hamilton is moving to Ferrari in 2025, relive some of his previous comments on potentially joining the team.

Question 2: What happened to Hamilton's two-year Mercedes deal?


It was never a fixed two-year deal, as widely assumed, after all.

It was just five months ago on August 31 that Mercedes announced that both Hamilton and George Russell were continuing as their driver line-up for a further two seasons until the end of 2025.

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Sky F1's Ted Kravitz, Damon Hill and Karun Chandhok have their say on the monumental news that Lewis Hamilton will join Ferrari in 2025.

On Hamilton's deal, Mercedes' official press release said: "Lewis will drive for the team in the 2024 and 2025 seasons and continue a historic relationship that has secured six World Drivers' Championships and eight World Constructors' Championships."

It has now emerged that there was an escape clause on Hamilton's side at the end of that first season, 2024, which he has now triggered.

"Lewis has activated a release option in the contract announced last August and this season will therefore be his last driving for the Silver Arrows," confirmed Mercedes.

Question 3: How long has Hamilton signed for at Ferrari?


Ferrari's statement on Thursday evening confirming the seven-time champion's arrival from 2025 only contained 21 words but it did at least confirm one thing we did not know for sure beforehand - Hamilton has committed to a "multi-year contract" at his new team.

Caveating the statement that follows with the fact that, as seen in this very episode, what you see in a team press release announcing a driver contract isn't always what ends up materialising, that "multi-year" detail should nonetheless point as the first confirmation that Hamilton will at least be sticking around in F1 until 2026 and the first year of the sport's all-new regulations and engines.

Question 4: What will Hamilton and Sainz's final seasons at their current teams be like?


The fact this deal has been done one year ahead of time means both Hamilton and Sainz face the strange situations at the very start of a season of continuing to drive for a team already knowing they are leaving at the end of the year. The teams themselves will find them in the middle of this unusual situation too.

It's not like either Mercedes or Ferrari face inconsequential 2024 campaigns either given both former champions are set to unveil majorly-overhauled new cars in under two weeks' time in the hope of significantly closing the gap to world champions Red Bull on track this year.

Given that on Hamilton's side at least this is a move of his choosing, how will his long-standing and hugely successful relationships with everyone at Mercedes, including team boss and co-owner Toto Wolff who himself has recently committed to an extended term to stay in day-to-day charge, fare during the year?

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Martin Brundle believes Lewis Hamilton joining Ferrari is a wonderful opportunity for both team and driver to reset.

As you would expect, both Hamilton and Sainz have promised to give it their all in their respective final seasons.

"I am 100 per cent committed to delivering the best performance I can this season and making my last year with the Silver Arrows, one to remember," said Hamilton, while Sainz wrote in a post on social media: "We still have a long season ahead of us and, like always, I will give my absolute best for the team and for the tifosi all around the world."

Such a high-profile scenario for a driver being announced at another team a year ahead of time is not completely unheard of in F1, mind you.

Fernando Alonso signed and was publicly named as a McLaren driver for 2007 at the end of 2005 having just won his first world title at Renault. The season in between, although not without internal flash-points late in the year, worked out rather well for him too given he won a second crown at Renault before switching to McLaren, where things did not famously work out quite so well next to Hamilton…

Question 5: Who will replace Hamilton at Mercedes?


If there was ever a gamechanger for F1's driver market, then this is undoubtedly it.

The 2025 market was always set to be a busy one with 14 drivers officially out of contract but Hamilton's impending switch has suddenly blown everything wide open.

For Mercedes, how do you replace the most successful driver of all time and one of the biggest sports stars on the planet? As Wolff acknowledged in Mercedes' statement, "we knew our partnership would come to a natural end at some point", but it appears they had not envisaged it being quite this soon.

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Sky F1's Jenson Button would like to see his former teammate Fernando Alonso replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes for the 2025 season.

Assessing the possible contenders on Sky Sports News, Craig Slater said: "It's hard to see who Mercedes promote - although that's probably good news for George Russell, he'll become No 1 within the team.

"Fred Vesti is their junior driver, he's not ready for Formula 1. They've got Mick Schumacher as their reserve driver, who didn't have a great start to his F1 career - might he be a stop-gap?

"Alex Albon, to me, might be the heavyweight signing to replace Hamilton."

Sainz clearly could also be a contender in what would amount to an effective swap deal.

Mercedes also already have on their books a young 17-year-old rising star from Italy named Andrea Kimi Antonelli who has been making major waves on the junior racing ladder to such an extent that he has bypassed F3 to join the F2 grid with the leading Prema team this year.

But would Mercedes want, and indeed need in terms of the stature of the team, to go out and get another world champion on the books? With Max Verstappen well off the market at Red Bull, that would only leave Alonso or, in an F1 comeback he tantalisingly left the door ajar to last year, Sebastian Vettel.

The timing of Hamilton's decision and announcement has at least given Mercedes time to properly consider a suitable replacement, with Wolff remarking "our opportunities for the future are exciting to contemplate".

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Sky Sports News' Craig Slater says it would 'top off' a glittering career for Lewis Hamilton if he was to emulate Michael Schumacher by winning a title with Ferrari

Question 6: Where does Carlos Sainz go next?

Unanswered...but maybe not for long

While his team-mate got his contract renewal for 2024 last week, hopes of extending his stay at Ferrari have come to an abrupt halt for Sainz.

In truth, eyebrows had already been raised by the fact that news of any renewal for the Spanish driver had not also featured in Ferrari's announcement about Leclerc, given the pair's existing deals lapsed at the same point, and appeared to back up pre-Christmas media reports in Italy that Sainz and the team's management were not in agreement on contract length.

Sainz is now left without a drive for 12 months' time by the signing of Hamilton, so what are his options?

Long before this shock development, the 29-year-old had already been heavily linked with Audi as a potential marquee signing for the manufacturer's Formula 1 arrival at Sauber in 2026. One potential problem with that timeframe for Sainz is that the Swiss team are unlikely to break out of the lower midfield before the end of 2025 and, even once Audi come on board with an all-new engine programme, instant success is unlikely.

For a driver like Sainz, who has become a two-time race winner since joining Ferrari from McLaren in 2021 but wants to take the next step and challenge for titles, that might seem like too long a wait at 29 years of age.

Mercedes, as mentioned, is also now clearly an alternative destination too. But could there be any way back to the Red Bull family, where he was previously a junior driver and began his career at what was Toro Rosso? Sergio Perez's deal next to Verstappen expires in December. There's also Aston Martin too if Alonso retires or moves elsewhere.

In his brief statement on X, Sainz simply said that "news about my future will be announced in due course".

Question 7: Has Lewis played another transfer blinder?


It seems so long ago now but it's worth noting that Lewis Hamilton has stunned F1 once before with a transfer move that no one saw coming.

That was back in September 2012 when against most expectations it was announced that Hamilton was leaving McLaren, where he had been since a 13-year-old, and joining Mercedes, who at the time had won one race in three seasons and were further away from the front than the team he was leaving.

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Paul Merson and David Prutton discuss the similarities between Lewis Hamilton's move to Ferrari and big football transfers.

But sold a compelling vision by Ross Brawn and Niki Lauda of how Mercedes planned to approach the big engine regulation change coming in 2014, Hamilton's decision to move proved inspired when his new team set off on an unprecedented era of success from his second season there.

So, Hamilton has got impressive form in this area. Has he seen something in Ferrari over the next few years that gives him a similar feeling of confidence heading towards F1's next big engine change in 2026?

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