Auto, Motor und Sport journalist Michael Schmidt thinks Ferrari needs to perform this year to make the deal with Lewis Hamilton work in 2025. The Italian team will have to work hard to finish ahead of Red Bull Racing, and many do not expect them to succeed. For Schmidt it is certain: they must at least show that they are closer to Red Bull than in 2023.
The 2024 season has not even started and everyone is already talking about 2025. Hamilton made sure of that when he announced on February 1 that he will leave Mercedes after this season. The Brit then packs his things and moves to Maranello. Schmidt didn’t expect it to be real this time. “When I heard the rumors, I thought it was the usual stuff,” says the German in Formel Schmidt. “It is not the first time that Hamilton would go to Ferrari. Shortly before he signed the new contract with Mercedes in Monza, and the time before that it was the same. That’s why my first thought at the beginning was: well, now something old is being repeated. And the next day they say again: no, he will stay with Mercedes’
That’s why Schmidt initially thought it would remain just rumors, but nothing could be further from the truth. However, some do not understand what Hamilton wants at Ferrari. Mercedes has been dominant from 2014 to 2020, and Ferrari has not won a title since 2007, while Hamilton is chasing his eighth title. Schmidt suspects that Ferrari may therefore feel a bit more pressure this year. ‘Ferrari has been behind Red Bull for some time now. Ferrari must perform this season, that is very clear. If they always finish second or third in the beginning, people will say: yes, but Hamilton will come next year. That cannot be said for an entire season,” says the journalist. ‘So they have to win one or two races. They have to show that they are closer to Red Bull.’
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‘If Mercedes is good, he can ignore the Ferrari topic for the time being’
Before Hamilton appears in red on the grid, he still has to drive one more season with the Silver Arrows. Mercedes will present its car on February 14. “It’s definitely going to be exciting because everyone knows this is his last year,” Schmidt said. ‘And let’s assume that the Mercedes is a success after all. The car is going to be really good. And then he will fight again for victories or perhaps even for his eighth title. It will certainly be exciting to see what will happen with Hamilton and Mercedes this season,” the German continued. “So if the car is good and he is motivated, I don’t think it matters that it is his last year and that he will compete in different colors the following year.”
On the other hand, things can of course also go completely wrong. Mercedes had a hard time with the car in the past two seasons, but expects to have all the ingredients to fight at the front again this season. ‘If it is another tough year like the past two, your thoughts can wander relatively quickly to next year. and a certain amount of frustration arises. And it might even strengthen his view that he made the right decision. But if Mercedes is good and he is fighting for victories, he can ignore the Ferrari topic for the time being. Then he would certainly go for the eighth title, because Hamilton knows very well that you cannot wait for anything in Formula 1. If the opportunity is there, you have to take it.’