Former Formula 1 driver Michael Bleekemolen indicates in an exclusive interview with F1Maximaal that financial interests probably also played an important role in Lewis Hamilton’s choice to sign a Ferrari contract. Whether it makes much difference in practice remains to be seen, because according to Bleekemolen, it is not the car, but the driver that is decisive.
Hamilton turned the Formula 1 world upside down last week by announcing that he will leave for Ferrari in 2025. The news came five months after the now 39-year-old Englishman signed a new contract with Mercedes. The team communicated that Hamilton would continue to drive for Mercedes in 2024 and 2025, but that turned out to be an option for the 2025 season. Hamilton therefore already decided not to use this option.
Financial interests are great
“I think he also does it for the money,” says Bleekemolen about Hamilton’s reasons for closing the Mercedes door behind him and moving to Ferrari. The news of Hamilton and Ferrari is extra striking, because the Brit will only change employers in a year. “That is difficult to estimate,” Bleekemolen responds when asked whether Hamilton has a better chance of an eighth title at Ferrari.
‘It is his perception of the world, and he thinks he is doing the right thing, but I don’t know what is or is not true about the gigantic salary he receives at Ferrari. I can also imagine that he will choose that for the rest of his career.’ For example, amounts of up to 100 million euros per year have already been mentioned for the record champion’s Ferrari contract. ‘I always find it strange that these kinds of things come out. You always have to wonder whether it is all correct.’
Time is running out for 39-year-old Hamilton in the hunt for his eighth title. “He also has to look at himself, he is also getting a year older,” says Bleekemolen, who adds that Fernando Alonso shows that this does not necessarily have to be a problem. ‘Just look at other racing classes, you will see that drivers do not necessarily have to say goodbye at the age of forty. Even then you can still be good. It will be exciting, that’s clear. For the viewers, for the enthusiasts and the fans, something like that is fun. You get something different.’
Can Hamilton keep up with Verstappen at Ferrari?
Still, Bleekemolen wonders whether it will lead to much change if Hamilton puts on a red suit in the future. ‘People always say that the Red Bull is very good, but put Max in a Mercedes or a Ferrari and he will win. In every racing class there are people who are just that little bit better. Now that is Max Verstappen. It is not that the car is immediately the decisive factor,” says the former Formula 1 driver.
‘The cars are of course important, because we all know that the Haas is not as good as the Red Bull, so the car remains an important aspect, but it is not the most important thing. That is why such high salaries are paid, because you also want to have the best driver in the car,” says Bleekemolen, who sees another advantage of a good driver. ‘People are becoming more enthusiastic. I think Max’s mechanics work on the car with more enthusiasm than his teammate. You also enforce that.’
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