Another bombshell in the world of sport that Lewis Hamilton is leaving Mercedes at the end of the 2024 season and joining rivals Ferrari! The last few days have been quite chaotic in the sports world. Last week Jurgen Klopp stunned one and all by announcing that he was leaving Liverpool at the end of the season. Hours later Xavi announced he was leaving Barcelona at the end of the season!
Phew! The last few days have been days of great departures.
On Thursday, reports that Hamilton was heading to Ferrari started doing the rounds. At first, it appeared a hoax. Formula 1 has such a reputation. It’s a world of gossip. But as the day progressed, some credible media organisations started lending credence to those reports and asserting it was all over bar the shouting. That Hamilton was indeed joining hands with Ferrari. Those reports turned out to be true, as they were given a seal of approval in the evening.
Hamilton became a household name at Mercedes. He became a man at Mercedes. Six out of his seven drivers’ championships have come at the Silver Arrows. Out of his 103 wins to date which is a Formula One record, 82 have come at the United Kingdom-based team. But all good things come to an end and so has Hamilton’s time at Mercedes.
In August 2023 he had signed a new two-year deal but it is understood there was a clause which empowered Hamilton to leave the team after one season if he wanted out. The 39-year-old joined Mercedes from McLaren for the 2013 season. At 23 years and 300 days – then the youngest – he had won his first championship in 2008 with McLaren. The next four years with them however didn’t turn out to be fruitful for him and that led him to join Mercedes.
It has been a hell of a ride for Hamilton at Mercedes. Second season into his time with the new team, he won his second championship. He did it again the next season, making it two championships in three seasons. He had proved the doubters wrong, who weren’t happy that he was leaving McLaren. “I wouldn’t advise anyone to leave McLaren if they want to win, but I’ve got to respect Lewis’s decision and really wish him well,” Martin Whitmarsh had said at the time. Then from 2017-2020, Hamilton etched his name into the annals of the sport as he won four championships on the trot.
It would be fair to say that history kind of has repeated itself in Hamilton’s case. The last three years at Mercedes haven’t been great. Max Verstappen and Red Bull have made massive strides, and it appears Hamilton left Mercedes because he no longer believed they could deliver a car that can stop Red Bull’s juggernaut. Just like the situation he faced at McLaren after early success with them!
In Formula One, it’s not all about the driver. It’s also about the car. So if Hamilton got frustrated at Mercedes, he can’t be blamed. Not that Ferrari are not struggling but a change sometimes can work miracles for either party. Hamilton would hope he can emulate Nigel Mansell who won the championship at the ripe age of 39 with Williams way back in 1992. There are also examples of drivers who have done it in their forties. “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 said after his departure was confirmed.
Some Mercedes fans might be sceptical over his move but Hamilton may have unleashed a masterstroke. At Mercedes, for the past few seasons, he appeared to have been stuck in a rut which wasn’t doing him and the sport any good. Hopefully, he will taste another round of great success before he bids adieu for good.
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