Lewis Hamilton set for Ferrari disappointment due to Mercedes contract clause

Lewis Hamilton will join Ferrari for the 2025 Formula 1 season


Lewis Hamilton used his Mercedes contract to engineer a shock move to Ferrari in a move that stunned Formula 1 fans, but the same legal document could also prevent him from getting everything he wants with the Scuderia.

A week has passed since the 39-year-old announced he would be leaving the Silver Arrows at the end of the 2024 season after 12 years of service, in what has proved to be an earth-shattering decision for Mercedes and Toto Wolff, who didn’t see it coming.

The seven-time world champion will see out his final season before departing, having exercised a break clause in his contract with the German manufacturer that allows him to join Ferrari.

But Hamilton is set to face disappointment in his attempts to reunite with key personnel from the Mercedes organisation whom he wanted to move with him to Ferrari’s Maranello base in Italy.

According to Motorsport Italia, his £50million-a-year deal signed in August 2023 contains a “no poaching clause” with Mercedes, which would prevent him from being able to offer a job to his race engineer Peter ‘Bono’ Bonnington or trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin.

Hamilton signed the agreement which apparently stipulates that the eight-time constructors champions can “prevent him from inviting colleagues in case the working relationship is broken by proposing him employment in another workplace”.

Why teams resort to no poaching clauses

These non-compete and no poaching clauses are relatively common in F1, although key engineers often move between teams due to the specialised nature of their jobs. In many cases, the person will be placed on gardening leave to protect the team’s confidential information before they move to a rival.

And sure enough, Mercedes have inserted the same contract clause as they did with Hamilton for team principals, technical directors and other essential members of the team.

One of the precedents that triggered this type of clause occurred in 2014, when Fernando Alonso left Ferrari to join McLaren. The Spaniard took his race engineer, Andrea Stella – now the Papaya’s team principal – along with him.

But Ferrari were unable to repeat the same process when they signed Sebastian Vettel to replace Alonso in the Prancing Horse in 2015. The German had a ‘no poaching’ clause written into his deal, meaning his trusted engineer Guillaume ‘Rocky’ Rocquelin, who worked with him for all four of his championship-winning seasons, was unable to move with him.

There are special cases where such transfers are possible, but there must be consent from all parties in order to break their contracts. And it does not appear that Mercedes will grant permission for Bonnington or Shovlin to leave.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
- Advertisment -


Carlos Sainz during practice for the 2024 Spanish GP | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Carlos Sainz hits out at Lewis Hamilton over unpunished Spanish GP move

Carlos Sainz believes Lewis Hamilton should've been given a penalty for his overtaking move that forced the Ferrari driver...
Max Verstappen during 2024 Spanish GP Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen warning to Red Bull and demands improvement

Max Verstappen demands Red Bull improvement as another tough race saw the reigning world champion have to really work...
Start of the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

LIVE F1 Spanish Grand Prix 2024 – Reaction as McLaren mistakes costly as Verstappen...

Welcome to Total-Motorsport’s F1 live coverage of the Spanish GP 2024. Held at the iconic Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, today’s race...
Lewis Hamilton during 2024 Spanish GP weekend | Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton brushes off furious Sainz after Spanish GP incident

Lewis Hamilton risked angering Carlos Sainz after claiming the Ferrari driver "left the door open" to overtake him during...
Lando Norris of McLaren after the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Lando Norris: McLaren easily had the best car at Spanish GP

Lando Norris believes Spanish GP victory should have been his as McLaren had the best car in Barcelona, but...
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner at the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Christian Horner warns of Norris danger to Verstappen after Spanish GP battle

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner warned that Lando Norris and McLaren are their strongest competitors following a nail-biting...
McLaren team principal Andrea Stella at the 2023 Belgian GP | McLaren F1 team

McLaren chief pinpoints where 2024 Spanish GP was lost

McLaren's team boss they lost the 2024 Spanish GP by Turn 1 as a poor start saw Lando Norris...
Max Verstappen, Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton on the podium after the 2024 Spanish GP | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

F1 Standings after 2024 Spanish Grand Prix

Max Verstappen showcased his racing prowess at the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix, clinching his seventh victory of the Formula...
Lando Norris during the 2024 Spanish GP weekend | McLaren

F1 Fastest Lap: Spanish GP 2024

The Spanish GP Fastest Lap award is given to the driver who posts the quickest time over one timed...
Lando Norris during the 2024 Spanish GP weekend | McLaren

F1 2024 Spanish GP: Driver of the Day

Lando Norris was crowned 2024 Spanish GP Driver of the Day, but couldn't land the biggest prize of all...
- Advertisment -