Lukas Raich/Wikimedia Commons

When the news first broke, I was sitting at the back of a dark lecture theatre, frantically scrolling through my phone to see if the rumours were true, cell differentiation long forgotten. The most successful Formula One driver in history signing for the most successful Formula One team in history is perhaps the biggest the sport has seen. Having only recently extended his contract with Mercedes into the 2025 season, Lewis Hamilton’s surprise move to Ferrari has sent shockwaves through the sport, leaving many questions over the future of F1.

My first question after digesting the initial shock was what will Mercedes do now? The strongest driver–team partnership in history is coming to an end, leaving Mercedes under big pressure to recruit the best possible driver. 12 drivers currently on the grid are still without a contract for 2025, including alpine duo Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly. Ocon particularly will be targeting Hamilton’s seat, having maintained close ties to Mercedes after coming into F1 through their junior programme.

There’s then the question of whether Mercedes should look for an already accomplished driver, given the experience they are losing in Hamilton. Fernando Alonso has to be one of the top contenders, given both his recent form at Aston Martin and history of bold transfers. On the other hand, there’s also plenty of exciting upcoming talent to look at. Kimi Antonelli is set to take part in F2 this year fresh from winning the 2023 formula regional European championship, bypassing F3. The Italian has been tipped to be a future star for Mercedes, but being only 17, this may be a move to look more to in the future.

Hamilton’s shock move has brought many questions to the future of Carlos Sainz, who (despite being the only non-Red Bull driver to win a race last year) is currently without a seat for 2025. The likes of Mercedes and Red Bull seats will most certainly be on his radar, but with competition for both fierce, he may stick it out until 2026, when Audi is set to join the grid. Sainz has been tipped as a top contender for one of the seats, so who knows, maybe he’ll take a year out of F1 and join his dad for some father–son rallying.

The unusual timing of Hamilton’s announcement has definitely added to the shock of this move. Coming before official F1 testing has even begun and with an entire season left with Mercedes potentially speaks of Hamilton’s lack of faith in the team’s ability to get back to title contention. Hamilton will still be hungry for that eighth world title, so to leave a team that has successfully delivered him six could speak strongly of the feeling within Mercedes. However, the irresistible pull of Ferrari will also have hugely influenced Hamilton’s decision to make the move, his first statement since the announcement revealing that this will allow him to fulfil a “childhood dream” of “driving in ferrari red”.

Hamilton’s move will certainly shift the driver dynamics within the Mercedes team this season. Russell will now be expected to step up to lead the team, despite Hamilton remaining in the team for the rest of the season, making it more likely that Russell is prioritised when it comes to things like race strategies, which wouldn’t make an already strained dynamic between Hamilton and the team any easier. Plus, if Russell can’t compete on the same level as Hamilton this year, Mercedes will be stuck knowing that they’ve let their best driver go with no strong replacement currently lined up to take over, leaving questions to be asked over their future.


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On this topic, there are many questions around how the new Ferrari driver partnership will play out. Charles Leclerc is Ferrari’s golden boy: he secured the longest contract in their history, recently extended it even further, and has earned himself the title of “il predestinato”, the predestined. Ferrari have opted not to have a number one driver in recent seasons, but bringing in a seven-time world champion to partner such an exciting talent could easily cause tensions within the team, as both will be desperate to secure themselves as number one.

Until Hamilton actually makes his debut at Ferrari, we can only speculate about what he may achieve there. Whether the transfer only solidifies him further as one of the greats or ends in disappointment remains to be seen, but there is no doubt Hamilton has caused shockwaves up and down the grid with possibly the biggest transfer in F1 history, making the run up to the 2024 season all the more exciting.