Norbert Haug, the former Mercedes F1 chief, openly admits being baffled by Lewis Hamilton’s decision to join Ferrari in 2025. This move, unexpected by many, has sparked a flurry of speculation and intrigue.
During the Aston Martin launch, Fernando Alonso couldn’t help but comment on Hamilton’s reasoning for the switch, suggesting a sudden change of heart in what Hamilton claimed was a lifelong dream. Alonso’s playful jab, “It was not his childhood dream 12 months ago, no? Or two months ago, I guess. It was a different dream.”
Haug, in an interview with motorsport-magazin.com, shared his astonishment: “If I had bet on one thing, on a partnership in Formula 1 that would last forever, it would have been Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes. I was completely blown away by it,” he confessed. His words echo the sentiment of many fans and insiders who saw Hamilton’s alliance with Mercedes as a defining element of his career.
The German further shared his disbelief, stating, “I would have sworn that it would stay that way forever. And that he would stay after he was finished driving as a brand ambassador or whatever.” This reveals the depth of Hamilton’s integration into the Mercedes brand and the surprise his departure has caused.
Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ team boss and co-owner, has remained tight-lipped about the specifics behind Hamilton’s decision, other than acknowledging Hamilton’s pursuit of a new challenge. This has left many, including Haug, pondering the real reasons behind the move. “It’s a mystery,” Haug said, suggesting that only a select few, including Wolff, might know the true story.
Wolff has openly discussed the potential implications of Hamilton’s departure, not just in racing terms but for Mercedes’ brand and financial standing. “Are there any risks? Of course, because Lewis is much more than just a driver. It is clear that after 2024 we will be missing something,” Wolff admitted to CNBC, highlighting Hamilton’s multifaceted value to the team.
The narrative also touches on the challenges and risks Ferrari faces in signing a 40-year-old Hamilton. Haug acknowledges the physical demands on older drivers, contrasting it with younger athletes’ vigor but also notes the trend of drivers maintaining peak fitness later in their careers. “It takes a lot more effort at 40 than at 20,” Haug admits, adding, “But there are many drivers in F1 who are physically fitter at 30 than they were at 20 because they recognize the need and know how to feed themselves.”