Lewis Hamilton will close the gates of the Mercedes factory in Brackley at the end of 2024 and move to Ferrari. The Formula 1 world was rocked when the news leaked on Thursday. But what do the leading Dutch analysts think? “This is the right time for Hamilton to do something different.”
Coronel: ‘This switch is also good news for Max’
“I secretly saw it coming,” said Tom Coronel at Formula1.nl. ‘Last season he sometimes aired Mercedes’ dirty laundry and openly criticized the team several times. That’s not Hamilton’s, because normally he is always very discreet.’ Perhaps the seven-time world champion has seen it after eleven years at the Silver Arrows – he switched from McLaren in 2013 – and then a new adventure at Ferrari is the best option according to Coronel. ‘At some point in your career you must have put on that red suit. It is a dream for every driver since childhood. Also for Lewis.’
Hamilton is far from the only driver who moves to Maranello at a later age (39). He joins the illustrious list that includes Sebastian Vettel and Alain Prost. An excellent choice, according to the Dutch driver and Viaplay analyst. ‘Ferrari is often the final destination for former world champions. I think it’s fantastic that Lewis is doing this. He is turning forty and wants to check this off. He is not afraid of Charles Leclerc. Lewis is only afraid of one man, and that is Max Verstappen.’
Hamilton has been chasing his record-breaking eighth world title since 2021 and hopes to succeed with Ferrari. But have the Scuderia’s chances suddenly increased significantly with the arrival of the Briton? ‘Not a lot, but a little. They now have the GOAT, together with Michael Schumacher, in house. Frédéric Vasseur has both the apples of his eye (Hamilton and Leclerc, ed.),” Coronel continued. ‘He also had to do something and had two options: either bring in Max or Lewis. The field is now being shaken up considerably. This is FOM’s wet dream. This transition is good for everyone, including Max.’
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Albers: ‘The right time to do something different’
For Christijan Albers, just like Coronel, it did not come completely out of the blue when the news of the surprising transfer leaked out. ‘Ferrari is something magical for every driver. That will be no different for Hamilton.’ The Dutch analyst understands the 39-year-old Briton’s choice to abandon Toto Wolff’s ship. ‘Mercedes’ dominance in the hybrid era is over. They are no longer supreme. Then it is good to look further as a driver. This is the right time for Hamilton to do something different.” Although the timing of the news means that both Hamilton and the Silver Arrows will end up in a difficult situation in 2024. At least, if we can believe Albers. “That will be a sensitive issue.”
Next season Hamilton will drive for Mercedes, but after that he will have Charles Leclerc next to him when he moves to Italy. And that will create sparks according to Albers. ‘With Leclerc they have a beast of a qualifier, with Hamilton an extremely consistent driver in the long runs and also someone who always performs. The different driving styles of the two are not a problem. They both know well enough how to customize a car. This is huge for Ferrari. The arrival of Hamilton means an enormous boost in terms of confidence and dedication,” Albers concluded.
Bleekemolen: ‘Something must have happened between Hamilton and Mercedes’
However, not everyone saw Hamilton’s departure from Mercedes coming. Jeroen Bleekemolen is surprised by the timing, because Hamilton recently signed a two-year contract extension in Brackley, the last year of which he will not start. ‘Something happened, I think. They don’t agree on something,” the Dutchman speculates. ‘Lewis has just signed for two more years, so this is quite illogical and crazy. Two years ago I might have expected this, they used to talk to each other, but now they don’t talk at all.’
Mercedes team boss Wolff, whose future in Formula 1 is suddenly no longer a foregone conclusion according to Bleekemolen, respects Hamilton’s decision. But what lies ahead for the Austrian? ‘I wonder what Toto will do. Maybe he has decided to quit F1. I wouldn’t assume he just wants to stay without Lewis. They have been a close team for years,” said Bleekemolen.
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Bleekemolen also discussed via Formula1.nl what exactly Ferrari gets out of it. ‘Will Ferrari become the unbeatable team? It’s possible.’ Yet the racing driver does not want to waste too many words about it. Predicting the future is and remains guesswork. He is clear about the reason behind Hamilton’s switch. ‘He probably felt like doing something different. If you can drive for Ferrari, that is something special.’ The fact that Vasseur is at the helm of the Scuderia was only a plus for Hamilton. ‘These are things that influence your choice. He’s going to be fine.’
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