Lewis Hamilton underlines why he could end up regretting Ferrari switch

Lewis Hamilton shocked the F1 world ahead of the 2024 world championship by announcing his switch from Mercedes to Ferrari

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Lewis Hamilton was so thrilled with the idea of having a competitive car at his disposal that it was almost easy to forget he’s leaving Mercedes at the end of 2024. So happy, in fact, that he might just be regretting the snap decision to sever ties with his team to join Ferrari.

Hamilton has only had four sessions in the Mercedes W15 but the seven-time world champion is already excited about the potential of their 2024 car in helping them chisel away at Red Bull’s advantage.

He could only qualify ninth for Saturday’s Bahrain Grand Prix, while his team-mate George Russell put his car on the second row in third place in qualifying, but Hamilton’s insistence that his car setup focused on the race could see him close up to Russell with the right strategy.

The 39-year-old may view it as typical that, with only 24 races left to go with the Silver Arrows, the team have produced their best car since his last title challenge in 2021. He won’t have much time to enjoy it either, with his lucrative switch to the Scuderia ending his 12-season association with the Silver Arrows.

Rarely after such a dismal performance in qualifying would Hamilton be so upbeat, but there is no question the prospect of challenging for wins has reignited his passion for racing again.

“The car is really fantastic, it’s real big improvement from previous years, a lot more stable, a lot more fun to drive,” Hamilton told the press in Bahrain. “And we still have work to do, as you can see, but for George to be three-tenths off Red Bull or off Max, it’s incredible.

“It shows what’s possible and I think we’ve just got to continue to add performance and I mean, if that’s our platform from here we can definitely chase through the rest of the season.”

Hamilton’s difficult choice

Lewis Hamilton on track for 2024 F1 pre-season testing in Bahrain | Mercedes F1 Team

Of course, hindsight is golden in F1. Many thought that Hamilton made a huge error in judgment when he left McLaren, the team where he first became world champion, for the exciting Mercedes project in 2013. That brave leap resulted in him dominating the sport with six titles in seven seasons, with Hamilton now recognised as one of the greatest drivers of all time.

The move to Ferrari is arguably more significant because of the teams’ close rivalry in recent years while Red Bull have dominated. Many saw Hamilton’s decision to turn his back on Toto Wolff and reunite with Fred Vasseur as a slap in the face. But with Russell outperforming Hamilton in qualifying for the Bahrain GP, the Austrian supremo might be feeling more positive about a future without their star driver.

That said, Ferrari are widely regarded as the main challengers to Red Bull this season and the fact Charles Leclerc is lining up alongside Max Verstappen on the front row should not be ignored.

If they pip Mercedes to second, or even first place in the constructors’ championship this season, Hamilton’s decision will have been vindicated once again in joining the faster team.

For now, he is enjoying a final hurrah inside the W15 with its silver-black hybrid design. But if Russell or even Hamilton is successful in pulling off a victory in Bahrain on Saturday, that sinking feeling that he may have jumped the gun will only grow to become more prominent.

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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