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Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton to leave Mercedes and join Ferrari next year

The seven-time world champion will make the surprise move on a multiyear contract after the 2024 season, the two teams announced Thursday.
F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi - Previews
Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Nov. 23.Clive Rose / Getty Images

Seven-time Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton will leave Mercedes for Ferrari next year on a multiyear contract, the two teams announced Thursday. The shock move means one of the sport's greats will join its most storied team.

"Scuderia Ferrari is pleased to announce that Lewis Hamilton will be joining the team in 2025, on a multi-year contract," Ferrari said in a statement.

Mercedes said Hamilton activated a clause in his contract to leave.

"The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team and Lewis Hamilton will part ways at the end of the 2024 season," Mercedes said. "Lewis has activated a release option in the contract announced last August and this season will therefore be his last driving for the Silver Arrows."

The move begins a thrilling new chapter in Hamilton's career as he pursues a record-breaking eighth championship. Hamilton, 39, is poised to replace Carlos Sainz, whose contract expires this year, and race alongside Ferrari star Charles Leclerc, who signed a multiyear contract extension with the Italian team last week.

“I have had an amazing 11 years with this team and I’m so proud of what we have achieved together,” Hamilton said. “Mercedes has been part of my life since I was 13 years old. It’s a place where I have grown up, so making the decision to leave was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make. But the time is right for me to take this step and I’m excited to be taking on a new challenge.”

Hamilton has driven for Mercedes since 2013 and won six world championships with the team after previously having won one title with McLaren. In 2021, he narrowly lost what would have been a record eighth championship to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who went on to dominate the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

The move was first reported by Sky Sports News and ESPN.

Image: Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton speaks with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton speaks with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc after the Sprint race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on Oct. 21 ahead of the U.S. Formula One Grand Prix.Chandan Khanna / AFP - Getty Images file

While Red Bull has crushed the competition in the last two years, Ferrari and Mercedes have had close battles in both years for second place in the constructors’ championship, with Ferrari finishing ahead in 2022 and Mercedes finishing ahead last year.

It’s far from clear that Hamilton would be better positioned to achieve his goal of an eighth championship at Ferrari, which has struggled in recent years.

Ferrari has not won a drivers’ championship since 2007, despite signing all-time greats like Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel since then. The team has suffered from a series of mechanical failures and strategy errors during races in recent years, but it remains the prestige name in the sport.

The surprise news comes just over a month before the new season begins with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 2.

“I will be forever grateful for the incredible support of my Mercedes family, especially Toto [Wolff] for his friendship and leadership and I want to finish on a high together. I am 100% committed to delivering the best performance I can this season and making my last year with the Silver Arrows, one to remember,” Hamilton said Thursday in his statement.

Hamilton was rumored last year to be mulling a future move to Ferrari, but he shot down those rumors during the Monaco Grand Prix.

“Naturally when you’re in contract negotiations, there’s always going to be speculation. And I think ultimately that’s — unless you hear from me, then that’s all it is,” Hamilton said, joking that they may have been the result of reporters’ being “bored” between races.

Leclerc also addressed questions at the time about whether he would welcome Hamilton on the team.

“Lewis is such an incredible driver, has achieved so much in the sport. So I think anybody on the grid would love to have Lewis as a teammate, as everybody would learn a lot from him,” Leclerc said at the time, adding that he was happy to have Sainz as a teammate.