LONDON: Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton is set for a shock switch from Mercedes to Ferrari in 2025 as a replacement for Spanish driver Carlos Sainz, according to multiple media reports on Thursday.
Mercedes and Ferrari declined to comment on speculation that would be by far the most sensational driver move of the so-called ‘silly season’.
Sky Sports Television said it understood Mercedes principal Toto Wolff would brief the team before a formal announcement later on Thursday.
Hamilton, 39, has been with Mercedes since 2013 and won his first title with McLaren in 2008. His current contract is due to expire at the end of next year and a move to Ferrari would surely extend that into the sport’s new engine era in 2026.
The Briton has been linked with Maranello repeatedly during his career, particularly when his contract has been up for renewal, but he signed a new two year deal with Mercedes last August.
Despite his loyalty to Mercedes, Hamilton has remained close to Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur after winning Formula Three and GP2 (now Formula Two) championships with the Frenchman’s ART team as a junior in 2005 and 2006.
Vasseur said last August that he talked to Hamilton at every race weekend.
In 2019, Wolff said Hamilton and Mercedes had discussed the possibility of the driver one day racing for Ferrari and such a move would be no drama.
“You have to simply acknowledge that probably it’s in every driver’s head to drive at Ferrari one day,” the Austrian said then.
“It’s the most iconic, historic Formula One brand out there and I totally respect if a driver has the desire to drive at Ferrari.
“Even within the team we have discussed it and with Lewis, we have discussed it and we have agreed on the topic,” Wolff said.
The most successful Formula One driver of all time, with a record 103 wins and 104 pole positions in a career that started in 2007, Hamilton has not won a race since December 2021 as Mercedes struggled to match Red Bull and Max Verstappen.
Verstappen has won the last three titles and starts 2024 as favourite for a fourth. The Dutch 26-year-old has a contract to the end of 2028.
Hamilton would join Charles Leclerc at Ferrari, with the Italian team announcing a week ago that the Monegasque had signed on for several more seasons.
McLaren also ensured Lando Norris, who had been seen by some as a possible future replacement for Hamilton, was off the market by announcing a new deal on Friday.
A move to Ferrari would likely be Hamilton’s Formula One swansong and a calculated risk, with the 2026 rule changes leaving everyone entering new territory.