Could Hamilton really move to Ferrari? And who, then, will replace him in the Mercedes?
Evgeniy Kustov May 23, 2023, 22:30 Moscow time Audio version: Your browser does not support the audio element.
If the Scuderia miraculously get away with it, Toto Wolff will be in serious trouble.
A couple of months later, the world media again began to actively discuss the theoretical transition of Lewis Hamilton. The Briton’s contract with Mercedes is set to expire, and the Daily Mail reported yesterday that Ferrari had offered the seven-time world champion a $50 million salary for Lewis to become a partner of Charles Leclerc in 2024. So real is that transition and what will happen to Mercedes then?
Hamilton at Ferrari: pros and cons
At the end of March we were already betting on the possible departure of Lewis to Maranello, so in part we will only repeat the previous theses. So why might Hamilton be interested in an offer from Ferrari?
1. State. Like it or not, there is a Ferrari and there is every other Formula 1 team. For any driver, playing for the Scuderia is something special, despite all the problems of the Italian team. If Hamilton managed to lead Ferrari to the title, it would take Lewis’s legend to a new level, especially as he would have become champion with the third team of his career.
2. Money. Against the background of falling Mercedes results and the fact that Hamilton himself is not far ahead of the “cheap” George Russell, the champion has not yet been able to agree with Toto Wolf on the terms of a new contract. . And just at that moment, Ferrari appears on the horizon with its wonderful offer. True, as La Gazzetta dello Sport points out, in exchange for a wonderful salary, Ferrari will surely take away from Hamilton the degree of freedom he enjoys in a Mercedes. It is unlikely that Lewis will be able to retain all image rights, and Ferrari can, shall we say, pay attention to Hamilton’s quasi-political activity.
3. Problems with Mercedes. If the Germans had recovered this year from the problems of 2022, Hamilton would hardly have thought about the transition. But a new glitch raises questions: will the Silver Arrows be able to recover quickly? In such a situation, the transition to a comparable Ferrari in terms of level no longer looks so scary. Yes, if you choose between the two teams then you expect a quicker return to the top of Mercedes, but maybe Hamilton has some not-so-comforting inside information that makes him decide to leave.
Detailed analysis of why Lewis may go for a sensational move:
3 reasons why Hamilton can really switch to Ferrari
The disadvantages of the transition are also clear. Ferrari has another rebuild and there is no guarantee that it will be more successful than the previous ones. For its part, the last titles of the Scuderia in the individual and team classification date back to the distant 2007-2008.
At the same time, Hamilton can’t wait forever for everything to settle in Maranelo. Of course, by Alonso’s standards, Lewis is not at all “old” and, nevertheless, he does not have many seasons left to win the long-awaited eighth title and get ahead of Michael Schumacher. But in the event of a transition, you will have to rebuild, adapt, break the team yourself … Will Hamilton really want to do this when he turns 39 before the start of the 2024 season?
Here’s why Ferrari could replace Sainz:
They say that Ferrari is not happy with Sainz. But, why change to Spanish and why?
What if Hamilton really leaves?
So let’s imagine the improbable happened: Hamilton disagreed with Wolf and signed the contract with Ferrari. Who then to take “Mercedes” instead? Let’s briefly list all the options:
Mick Schumacher. You can’t fail to mention the current Mercedes reserve driver. Of course, all the German media dream of such an option, but it’s hard to believe that Wolf considers Mick ready to play in a top team after two controversial seasons with Haas, Carlos Sainz. That’s a direct driver swap with Ferrari. It is supposed that it is the Spaniard who can make his place for Lewis. At the same time, Carlos has a valid contract with the Scuderia, but we believe that if he is offered not only compensation, but Lewis’ place, Sainz will not kick much. On his face, Mercedes will have a fairly experienced driver who will try to fight Russell, but he will be a decent second number if anything; Lando Norris. McLaren has denied a million times that the Briton has a clause in his contract that allows him to break it. But we understand that everything always depends on the quantity. And the desire of all parties. And with Oscar Piastri worthy of his debut season, McLaren can afford to part with the team leader more easily;
McLaren’s weak form threatens Lando’s future:
F-1 stands to lose one of the most talented drivers. It’s time for Norris to direct Esteban Ocon. As you probably remember, the Frenchman is a Mercedes graduate, and Toto Wolf was Esteban’s manager for a long time. Okon gained experience in Force India and Alpin, even miraculously winning the Grand Prix. In general, a worthy pilot, albeit without the “top” prefix. Of the minuses: a difficult character and a contract valid until the end of 2024; Fernando Alonso. Yes, the Spaniard has a long-term deal with Aston, but why shouldn’t Toto, as a friend, agree with Lawrence Stroll and intercept the two-time world champion he’s showing elegant form? Still, it looks like if Nando has a final shot at a third title, it’s with Mercedes, not the Stroll team; Valtteri Bottas. Why not bring back a Finn who knows the team inside out as a measure of fire? Yes, Valtteri somehow relaxed at Alfa Romeo, but surely he will find a new motivation when he does not have an average car on his hands, but something more serious. And the Finn himself will surely believe that he is capable of coping with Russell, Niko Hulkenberg. Roughly the same temporary shot option as Bottas. Of the minuses – the lack of experience of playing for a top team. Of the additional advantages, in addition to experience and stability – a German passport. And low salary; Daniel Ricardo. Well, if you really fantasize about it. But purely formally: the Grand Prix winner, a driver with many years of experience playing for the best teams. And without a contract for 2024.
Well, Toto Wolf has backup options. So, after reading the news in the British and Italian media, the Mercedes boss is unlikely to panic and urgently send Hamilton’s lawyers a contract with an empty salary column. The silly season of transitions in Formula 1 has already begun. We hope it will be more interesting than the sports season.
Hamilton continues to fight Wolf, and the FIA has already won:
F-1 teams shamelessly spit on all rule amendments. Why is the federation so disgraced?