On Feb.1 2024, news of a driver switching teams sent shockwaves through the Formula 1 community — Lewis Hamilton, the seven time World Drivers' Champion — tied with Michael Schumacher for the most titles — who has driven for Mercedes for the past 11 years, is set to drive for Ferrari for the 2025 season.

Lewis Hamilton started off his F1 career at McLaren in 2007 and came out tied for the most wins in a rookie season — one point behind the championship winner Kimi Raikkonen. The following season, Hamilton won the Driver’s Championship and finished in the top five every following season until his switch to Mercedes in 2013. In his second season at Mercedes, Hamilton won the Driver’s Championship, repeating the win six more times in his 11 years at Mercedes. In that time, Hamilton also helped Mercedes win eight Constructors’ Championships from 2014 to 2021. Looking at the statistics, Hamilton is undoubtedly one of the most decorated drivers with 103 victories, 103 pole positions, 183 podium appearances.

Now Hamilton is set to drive for Ferrari, who has found similar success in F1. Ferrari is the only team to have competed in every season of the World Championship since 1950, and is the most decorated team with 16 Constructors’ Championships and 15 Driver’s Championships. Ferrari also has had some of the most iconic and victorious drivers such as Alberto Ascari, John Surtees, Niki Lauda, and Michael Schumacher — all who have won a Driver’s Championship. This impressive pairing generates high expectations for the 2025 season.

While there is high anticipation for what is to transpire on the track next year, this change does not come without strong emotions from both Mercedes and Hamilton. In a post on X, Hamilton reminisces about his time at Mercedes, stating it was an “incredible 11 years at Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team” and that he feels “fortunate” for all of his achievements there that he “could only have dreamed of as a kid.” However, Hamilton says he also now has “the chance to fulfill another childhood dream” of “Driving in Ferrari red” and that “the time is right to make a change and take on a new challenge.” He compares his switch to Ferrari to the “leap of faith into the unknown” when he “first joined Mercedes in 2013.” 

He also admits “this decision has been the hardest I’ve ever had to make. I’m incredibly proud of all that we’ve achieved together and I’m very grateful for the hard work and dedication of … Toto, for his friendship, guidance and leadership. Together we have won titles, broken records and become the most successful Driver-Team partnership in F1 history.” But before he focuses on next year’s season, Hamilton’s “focus is on the upcoming season and getting back out on track with Mercedes.” Balancing his relations with his current team, he also clarifies “I am 100% committed to the job I need to do and determined to end my partnership with the team on a high.”  

Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ team principal since 2013 responded to the news of Hamilton leaving Mercedes a few days later in a video interview. Wolff knew that Hamilton’s contract was a short-term one for three years, with a release clause. But the news still came as a shock as he said “Let me say if you told me two days ago that Lewis would be going to Ferrari I didn’t think it was possible.” However, he revealed “I’ve found a friend, we’ve built a relationship over the last 10 years, and he faced a very, very difficult situation, making a decision of where to drive, maybe for the first time since 10 years without being able to brainstorm with me. And therefore, I will always respect the difficulty of the situation that he faced. And in the future, we will discuss whether this could have been done in a different way or not. But I hold no grudge.” Wolff, like Hamilton, is focused on the upcoming season together, stating “the mind, the Mercedes, the team’s mind, kicked in.”

As the driver with the most Driver’s Championships joins the oldest team also with the most Constructors' Championships, this is considered one of the biggest signings in F1 history. Since the driver lineup did not change from 2023 to 2024, this switch leaves a lot unknown. Lewis will leave behind his number one driver seat at Mercedes along with his teammate George Russell, with nothing confirmed about who will replace him. The addition of Hamilton to Ferrari to join Charles Leclerc who signed a contract extension to 2026 also leaves current Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz without a seat for the 2025 season yet. With Audi entering F1 under the partnership with Sauber in 2026, the lineup of drivers has the potential to be totally changed. 

However, before the 2026 season can start, fans are excited to see how the 2025 season will play out, and to watch Netflix’s docuseries “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” for all of the behind the scenes dynamics of the upcoming season.