Lewis Hamilton proven right in joining Ferrari – dreadful Mercedes are even worse in 2024

Lewis Hamilton finished seventh and ninth at 2024 Bahrain and Saudi Arabian GP

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Lewis Hamilton came away from the Formula 1 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with a sinking feeling that Mercedes are not in a better position than they were last year after all. In fact, they might be worse.

No one could deny that Hamilton gave it everything to finish as high as possible after qualifying eighth. He held off Oscar Piastri on an old set of medium tyres in the first stint and, after pitting for a pair of softs, was all over the back of Lando Norris’ rear wing right up to the checkered flag.

Their scrap provided an entertaining battle in an otherwise dull race, but it wasn’t for a win or podium. It was eighth place that was up for grabs, and even that proved to be out of the Mercedes star’s reach as he came home in P9. This wasn’t a case of not having the right tyre or damage to his car – both were on the soft tyre towards the end – the W15 simply didn’t have the power or aerodynamic capability to overtake the McLaren.

It wouldn’t have been lost on the Briton that the last time he tasted victory in F1 was at this track in 2021 – a run that stretches back 47 races. Despite Hamilton’s objections to travelling to Saudi Arabia to race on a human rights level, it holds a special memory for him as it his 103rd race victory was the last time he stood on the top of the podium.

Lewis Hamilton during 2024 Saudi Grand Prix practice | Mercedes / LAT Images
Lewis Hamilton during 2024 Saudi Grand Prix practice | Mercedes / LAT Images

His dramatic tussle with Max Verstappen at the front meant they would be level going into the final race before the controversial events in Abu Dhabi transpired. But the very thought of Hamilton being on an even keel with Verstappen heading into the final race of the season is almost impossible to imagine now.

Mercedes have no excuse for their poor form since the new regulations were brought in back in 2022. They had time to prepare and design the car like everyone else, but chose the wrong concept and have been playing catch-up ever since. Now into the third season, Toto Wolff is still speaking about fixing the car. From the perspective of a team that has won the constructors’ championship eight times, it is almost embarrassing to be in this position.

It also seems to be taking its toll on Hamilton‘s mood. The 39-year-old remarked after the race that, while the racing part was enjoyable, finishing ninth “definitely wasn’t fun”, and his optimism in Bahrain has dissipated into waiting to see what the team can come up with. Any slim hopes Hamilton had of rounding off 12th and final season with the Silver Arrows with a record eighth title already appear to be unrealistic, with Verstappen already 43 points clear of him.

Lewis Hamilton at the Mercedes end-of-season photoshoot at the 2023 Abu Dhabi GP | LAT Images / Mercedes F1 Team

A new adventure with Ferrari

Having finished seventh and ninth in the opening two races, Hamilton may well be relieved that he took the leap in joining Ferrari for 2025. His only regret at this point is that he cannot do it sooner.

So far, the Scuderia have looked like the only team capable of challenging Red Bull in qualifying, and even if they are a fair way back in terms of race pace, both Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc have finished on the podium so far in 2024.

Ollie Bearman, the 18-year-old teenager who has only ever practiced in an older version of a Ferrari, jumped into the SF-24 and drove a magnificent race to claim seventh ahead of Norris and Hamilton in Jeddah.

As you would expect, the seven-time world champion put his own misery aside to offer his congratulations to the youngster. But few could blame the Stevenage-born racer for being envious of his position in a car that looks extremely competitive. At least he can console himself with the knowledge he will be stepping into it this time next year.

It won’t be long until Hamilton waves goodbye before heading to Maranello, with 22 races left with the Silver Arrows. Those who know Hamilton will attest he will give everything to help the team until the last day of his contract.

But if Mercedes fail to find a way to resolve their issues with the car, it will only reinforce the idea that Hamilton made the correct call to pack his bags for his Ferrari adventure.

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.
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