It has been confirmed that Lewis Hamilton will be leaving Mercedes for Ferrari in the 2025 season. 2024 will mark the end of a 12-year partnership between Hamilton and Mercedes.
This is not the first time Lewis Hamilton switching teams has caused shockwaves in the realm of motorsports. When it was announced that Lewis Hamilton was set to drive for Mercedes in 2013, it was a move that was coloured to be wrong and possibly career-ending.
Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team and Lewis Hamilton will part ways at the end of the 2024 season. Lewis has activated a release option in the contract announced last year.
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) February 1, 2024
At the end of 2009, Brawn rebranded to Mercedes after Mercedes-Benz’s parent company Daimler AG bought a minority stake (45.1%) in the Brawn GP team and Aabar Investments purchased 30%. They then started competing as Mercedes in the 2010 season onwards.
In Lewis Hamilton’s final years at McLaren, he was in the title fight each time, or at least close to it. Meanwhile, Mercedes hadn’t been able to produce a competitive car that could match up to the frontrunners. So when Hamilton was announced as a Mercedes driver, it was very unexpected.
In 2012, Mercedes finished 5th in the Constructors’ Championship. In 2013, Lewis Hamilton joined Mercedes who still had not produced a good package. Despite finishing 2nd in the Constructors’ standings, they were not fighting for any of the titles. However, Hamilton saw something special in Mercedes that no one else could see.
The start of something special
Hamilton proved all his doubters wrong eventually. In the dawn of the new regulations, Mercedes made their case with a beast of a car in 2014.
Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were teammates at Mercedes from 2013 to 2016. The two went from being childhood friends and karting teammates to fiercely battling for the F1 title for 3 years.
The 2014 season witnessed Mercedes’ dominance, claiming victory in 16 out of 19 races. Hamilton secured 11 of those wins and became a 2-time World Champion.
The following year, Hamilton showcased his dominance again by winning 10 races and achieving 17 podium finishes, matching the records previously set by Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher. Hamilton’s dominance in that period did not come with ease though. The rivalry between Rosberg and Hamilton was intense and escalating as time went by. Throughout the 2015 season, the two teammates gave us thrilling wheel-to-wheel battles. That season, Rosberg secured 15 podiums and 5 wins allowing Hamilton to claim his third F1 title.
For the third year in a row, Hamilton and Rosberg engaged in a season-long duel in the 2016 season. The combination of Nico Rosberg’s talent and Lewis Hamilton’s unfortunate luck allowed Rosberg to seize the championship title by the end of the season.
Hamilton vs Vettel
Nico Rosberg retired from F1 at the end of the 2016 season. To give Hamilton and Mercedes competition, Ferrari stepped up their performances and gave Sebastian Vettel a title contender from 2017 to 2019.
The 2017 season gave us a fight for both title contenders. Ferrari demonstrated greater consistency in terms of race trim, allowing Sebastian Vettel to lead the championship for the initial 12 rounds. However, Ferrari’s championship challenge dwindled towards the season’s end. Hamilton’s consistency allowed him to finish the season with a fourth F1 title – his third at Mercedes.
At that point, the only person who had won more than four F1 titles was Michael Schumacher, who won an outstanding seven. That was Hamilton’s next goal.
In 2018, the Mercedes driver delivered an almost flawless performance throughout the season. While Sebastian Vettel remained a constant contender throughout the season, poor team strategies and driver errors ultimately contributed to Hamilton clinching the title with two races to spare, marking his fifth championship win.
Hamilton experienced a comparatively smoother journey to the title in 2019. Ferrari posed a threat in terms of engine power and qualifying pace. They particularly excelled on the straights. Ferrari’s title hopes were snuffed out by constant team and driver mistakes. Mercedes on the other hand maintained an advantage in the corners. To add, they had Lewis Hamilton and better strategic decisions than their counterparts in red. Hamilton and Mercedes secured both titles. A sixth for Lewis, and a fifth for Mercedes.
“Lewis Hamilton wins the Turkish Grand Prix, and is a 7-time champion of the world!”
2o20 saw Mercedes give us the W11, a marvel in design. In contrast, the Ferraris found themselves trailing, no longer as competitive due to deficiencies in aerodynamics and engine power.
In a season that gave us 5 different race winners – including 2 first-time winners – it was Lewis Hamilton’s season. Benefiting from a championship-worthy package, Lewis Hamilton drove a champion’s drive throughout the entire season.
As if it was written in the stars, fourteen years after the pivotal GP2 race in Istanbul that completely changed his career, Hamilton secured his seventh title in the very same city. This achievement meant that the Brit had now equalled Michael Schumacher’s record for the most Formula 1 Drivers’ Championships.
Hamilton has arguably redefined Mercedes as a brand. From Mercedes’ 8 Constructors’ titles to Lewis Hamilton’s 103 career race wins, his name is all over the record books of the sport, and Formula One.
In 332 races so far, Lewis has won 7 titles, 103 races, achieved 104 pole positions, 197 podiums, and 4639.5 points. Here are 7-time champions achievements since joining Mercedes in 2013:
Grand Prix: 222
Drivers Championships – 6
Race wins – 82
Pole positions – 78
Hamilton still has this season to go with Mercedes. Whether Mercedes will be able to produce a car capable of consistently fighting for wins and podiums is a question yet to be answered. The ideal situation for both Mercedes and Hamilton to be able to extend their records together, allowing Hamilton a fitting farewell before he joins Ferrari for the 2025 season.