The F1 paddock ponders: Hamilton’s Ferrari fling, folly or fortune?

The F1 world is abuzz, and it’s not just the engines roaring this time. In a move that’s left jaws on the floor and pundits scratching their heads, Lewis Hamilton has made the bombshell decision to leave Mercedes for the allure of Ferrari in 2025. “I’m very surprised,” admits Flavio Briatore, the flamboyant former Renault boss, reflecting the shock rippling through the paddock. “But he must have his reasons,” he muses, hinting at the complex calculus behind such a career-defining pivot.

Briatore, ever the enigmatic figure, sends his best wishes to Ferrari and Hamilton but can’t hide his astonishment. Mercedes, after all, has been Hamilton’s fortress, his kingdom. “But I am surprised because Mercedes has done a lot for him,” he remarks to Lapresse, echoing the sentiment of many who’ve watched Hamilton and Mercedes dominate the turbo-hybrid era.

“Do I agree with the choice? I don’t know,” Briatore ponders, hitting the nail on the head about the necessity of a competitive car. “You can have Batman at the wheel but if it’s not competitive the driver will not make the difference.” It’s a stark reminder that in F1, the car and the driver are a package deal.

Jarno Trulli, another voice from Italy’s rich racing heritage, weighs in, suggesting the move seems more beneficial for Hamilton than for Ferrari. “He will remain in the history of Mercedes, whilst realising a dream at the age of 40,” Trulli tells La Repubblica. It’s a poetic thought—Hamilton, having conquered virtually every summit with Mercedes, now seeks a new challenge, perhaps the only one left: to win in red. “For me, honestly, it looks better for Hamilton than for Ferrari.

“He will drive a Ferrari knowing that everything he had to win in his career is won already. Maranello, however, has other dreams – to win new titles.”

Ralf Schumacher, linking Hamilton’s decision to his brother Michael’s legendary move in the ’90s, sees it as a potentially right choice. “There are many drivers who would like to drive a Ferrari before finishing their career and he is one of them,” he observes, suggesting Frederic Vasseur’s leadership at Ferrari might have been a decisive factor.

Robert Doornbos and Christijan Albers join the chorus of opinions, each highlighting different angles—Doornbos speculating on the gamble with 2026’s regulations and Albers pointing to Mercedes’ perceived stagnation.

“It’s the right time for him to do something different,” Albers said, according to Dutch publication Formule 1. “Mercedes’ dominance in the hybrid period is over. They are stagnating. So as a driver it’s good to look ahead.

“I’ve heard a lot of people say that (Charles) Leclerc and Hamilton’s driving styles are so different, but that’s not an issue. They are both guys who know how to customise a car.”

As for Carlos Sainz, speculation abounds about his next move. Jarno Trulli believes Sainz will bounce back, possibly eyeing a future with Audi. “He knows very well that these are the dynamics of Formula 1,” said the former Renault and Toyota driver. “Ferrari took an opportunity and signed a seven-time world champion – what are you going to say about that?”

Albers, meanwhile, skeptically questions whether Sainz or Alexander Albon would fit into the Mercedes picture.

“Alexander Albon? To be honest, I think he’s a little bit overrated. Just look at who he has driving next to him at Williams,” he added, referring to Logan Sargeant.

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