Lewis Hamilton speaks out about ‘hardest decision’ to leave Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton has opened up about the decision to leave Mercedes in 2025

Sonia Twigg
Sunday 25 February 2024 14:39 GMT
'Doing what is best for me': Lewis Hamilton went with 'gut feeling' on Ferrari move

Lewis Hamilton admitted it was the “hardest decision” to leave Mercedes and join Ferrari from the 2025 season.

The 39-year-old joined Mercedes from McLaren in 2013 and signed a two-year contract extension only last August, but his move to join the Italian giants was confirmed earlier this month.

Over the winter he made the decision to terminate his £100million deal 12 months early to make the move.

“It (the decision) happened very fast,” Hamilton told the BBC’s Chequered Flag F1 podcast.

“The opportunity just popped up and I was like ‘Ok I’ve got to think for a second’ and I didn’t have a lot of time to think, I just had to go with my gut feeling and I decided to take the opportunity.”

Hamilton did not win a race with Mercedes in 2023 (Getty Images)

Hamilton added: “I didn’t speak to anybody, I didn’t tell my parents until the day of it being announced, so no one knew and I really wanted to do it for myself and that’s ultimately...I had to find out what was best for me.”

The British driver signed a “multi-year contract” with the Italian team and will race alongside Charles Leclerc, replacing Carlos Sainz.

Hamilton is the joint-most successful driver in the sport’s history and has won six of his seven world championships at Mercedes, after joining from McLaren back in 2013.

On the decision to leave the team with which he has had so much success, Hamilton said: “It was the hardest decision. When I left McLaren it was a very hard decision also because it was like my family, you feel such a part of the family and obviously, I’ve been such a big part of Mercedes, and it’s been such a huge part of my life and we’ve achieved so much together.

“The thing is I will always be a Mercedes fan and we’ll always have this incredible history together, even now, after all these years I genuinely always check where McLaren are and I’m always supporting them and that will always be the case for me here also.”

Hamilton will have one final farewell season with Mercedes in 2024 (AP)

Last year was a second straight season for Hamilton without a victory - a streak which now stands at 45 races - and Mercedes’ first winless campaign in 12 years.

Ferrari however have not won the drivers’ championship since Kimi Raikkonen lifted the trophy for them in 2007.

Mercedes team director Toto Wolff explained how he found out about the news. “I was surprised at the timing, the sheer fact didn’t come as a shock at all, it was more ‘why now’ and why from one day to the other, but that discussion probably lasted a minute and then it became ‘what are we doing about communication’.”

Mercedes have not yet decided who will replace Hamilton as their second driver in 2025, but Wolff hinted that the process is already being worked out.

He said: “When you look at the drivers out there, there is a couple who are interesting.”

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