Lewis Hamilton reveals the one man who made Ferrari move a reality

Lewis Hamilton worked with Frederic Vasseur in his junior racing career

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Lewis Hamilton credits Frederic Vasseur as the one man who made his move to Ferrari happen as the seven-time world champion leaves Mercedes at the end of 2024.

After spending 10 years with the Mercedes works team and many more years with them as an engine supplier, many expected Hamilton to end his career in silver, akin to Sterling Moss, and move onto an ambassadorial role post-F1.

But with rumours that the board executives didn’t want to offer him such a spot, and that they were going to push him out of a seat in 2025 anyway, Hamilton began shopping for new offers and Ferrari were one of the first teams to enquire.

With the combination of a serious financial commitment from John Elkann (Ferrari Executive Chairman), Hamilton decided to strap on red race suits for the future, but it was through his personal relationship with Frederic Vasseur, the Ferrari team principal who managed Hamilton through junior racing, that allowed the move to happen.

“I’ve got a great relationship with Fred,” Hamilton said to media at F1 testing. “Obviously, I raced with him in Formula 3, and we had amazing success in F3 and also in GP2 [now Formula 2] and that’s really where the foundation of our relationship started, and we just always remain in touch.

“And I thought that he would try to see what he was going to do. He was going to be an amazing team manager at some stage and progress to F1, but at the time he wasn’t interested in that. It was really cool to see him step into the Alfa Romeo [now Sauber] team and then when he got the job at Ferrari, I was just so happy for him.

“And I think just the start of the line, it really wouldn’t have happened without him [the move to Ferrari], so I’m really grateful and I’m really excited about the work that he’s doing there.”

Frederic Vasseur looks on at the 2023 Qatar GP | Scuderia Ferrari

The dynamic between Hamilton and Vasseur

Based on their time as Hamilton was coming through the ranks, Ferrari can enjoy a very strong driver-team principal dynamic that the British racer is well-known for forming, with previous examples being Ron Dennis and Toto Wolff.

Vasseur founded the ART team and the ASM Formule 3 team that signed Hamilton to the 2005 Formula 3 Euro Series and the domination the seven-time world champion has become synonymous with was instantaneous.

In that season, he won 15 races from 20 attempts whilst taking 13 pole positions and 15 fastest laps showing how he was a cut above anyone else in a field that included Sebastian Vettel, Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta, all of whom graduated to F1 eventually.

Of the five races he didn’t win, he finished third in two of them, 12th in one retired from another and was disqualified from Belgium along with seven other drivers including his teammate.

After winning Formula 3, Hamilton had no business in sticking around and remaining with ART Grand Prix, he moved on to GP2 – the final step before F1, which is now known as Formula 2.

Hamilton won the title in his rookie attempt, defeated Nelson Piquet Jr. by 12 points and taking five wins, seven second-places and two third places from 22 races, seven fastest laps and one pole position at the challenging Circuit de Monaco.

It also included an incredible memorable comeback drive at the race in Turkey. The British racer spun early on and seemed as though he handed the title to Piquet Jr. on a silver platter but a storm through the field saw him go from last to second to expertly minimise the damage and in all honesty, it’s the drive that won him the title.

Naturally, after impressive performances in both of those series, his relationship with Vasseur was put on hold for 17 years as Dennis signed him to McLaren to partner Fernando Alonso for the 2007 season and the rest, as they say, is history.

So, can the pair reignite the success they enjoyed all of those years ago? Can they break the suffocating dominance Max Verstappen and Red Bull have unleashed on the sport? Both are excited for their partnership’s potential and so is the rest of the racing world.

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