Ex-F1 stars give contrasting opinions on Lewis Hamilton’s stunning move to Ferrari

Lewis Hamilton will spend one final season with Mercedes before replacing Carlos Sainz at Ferrari

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Ex-Formula 1 drivers Jan Lammers and Christian Danner disagree on Lewis Hamilton signing a multi-year deal with Ferrari for the 2025 season.

Hamilton, a Mercedes driver since 2013, had announced at last September’s Italian GP that he would remain at the Brackley-based team until 2025, seemingly putting speculation of a move to Ferrari or Red Bull to rest.

But, it emerged Hamilton had activated a release clause in his Mercedes contract, paving the way for a historic move to Ferrari. Hamilton will partner Charles Leclerc, who signed a multi-year contract extension with Ferrari in January.

Hamilton‘s impending arrival means Carlos Sainz‘s four-year stint at Ferrari will conclude at the end of this season. 

“Well, I think Toto Wolf and Lewis have a very good understanding,” Lammers exclusively told Total-Motorsport.com. “I think they are fair enough and close enough to each other to understand that if Lewis says,You know what, I might be racing for another, whatever, two, three, four years and I will still like to tick off my experience with Ferrari‘.

“But also, at the same time, both Ferrari and Lewis have a good reason to think about [forming a] relationship because, in the last few years, Ferrari has lost a lot of points due to themselves, with pitstop strategies [and] sometimes a little bit of unreliability.

“But in terms of speed and competition, they were always up there, and that’s something that Lewis is very aware of, and at the same time, I think both have a good reason to think like, well, we could be a good combination, Lewis with his reliable track record from a driving point of view, and Ferrari with its potential.

“So maybe it’s a good combination to get the best from each other, and it’s lovely to see these changes because the last thing Formula 1 fans want to see is the same drivers with the same teams every year.”

Meanwhile, Danner is sceptical about whether the Hamilton and Ferrari partnership will work but wishes the seven-time world champion well with his new challenge.

“It may sound sarcastic, but all I can say is good luck!” responded Danner to Total-Motorsport.com. “Do I understand it? No, do I think it’s the right decision? No.

“Is it good for his ego? Most probably, yes. Is it good or even better for his bank account? Almost certainly, yes. His life, his decision, his freedom, as I said, good luck!”

Hamilton joins a long list of champions to don red

Hamilton’s departure from Mercedes means he joins an exclusive club of drivers who have left the teams they won world championships with to join Ferrari.

In 1989, Alain Prost, disillusioned at McLaren after his relationship with Ayrton Senna had soured, joined Ferrari in 1990 alongside Nigel Mansell. Prost enjoyed an excellent first campaign at Ferrari, taking five victories and narrowly missed out on the championship after a controversial opening-lap collision with Senna at the Japanese GP. 

However, Prost’s second season at Ferrari in 1991 was disappointing, as the Frenchman failed to win a race for the first time since his rookie campaign at McLaren in 1980. Prost was then dramatically dismissed from Ferrari for comparing the team’s 1991 car, the 643, to driving a ‘truck’ during the Japanese GP.

Michael Schumacher was the next world champion to succumb to the allure of the prancing horse as he announced in the summer of 1995 his departure from Benetton to join Ferrari for 1996.

Michael Schumacher in action at the 2002 Brazilian GP | Ferrari

Despite missing out on the titles in 1997 and 1998, Schumacher and Ferrari ended their title drought at the fifth time of asking, winning both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships in 2000. Four more drivers and constructors championships followed, earning Schumacher a place in the pantheon of F1’s greatest drivers.

The man who ended Schumacher‘s run of dominance in 2005, Fernando Alonso, signed for Ferrari in 2010 following two average seasons with Renault, where he was unable to consistently challenge for victory. Alonso quickly became an idol of the Tifosi by producing mesmerising performances in average cars and was victorious on his Ferrari debut in Bahrain.

Sadly for Alonso, a third world title would be cruelly snatched from his grasp, as he narrowly lost out on the 2010 and 2012 world championships to Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel. Following a dismal 2014, where Ferrari only managed two podiums, Alonso left at the end of the season to commence a second ill-fated spell at McLaren.

Vettel followed in Schumacher’s footsteps by joining Ferrari in 2015, helping the team return to form with 14 race wins between 2015 and 2019. Like Alonso before him, Vettel couldn’t end Ferrari’s wait for a title, finishing runners-up to Hamilton in 2017 and 2018 before leaving the team at the end of 2020. 

Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
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