- It’s Andrew Benson
- The main F1 writer
Lewis Hamilton will make a shock move from Mercedes to Ferrari for the 2025 season, BBC Sport understands.
Several sources say that the agreement of the seven-time world champion Hamilton to join Charles Leclerc in Maranello from 2025 has been agreed.
Ferrari and Mercedes declined to comment.
Mercedes F1 staff were told in a meeting with team principal Toto Wolff and team director James Allison on Thursday afternoon.
The move could be officially announced as early as Thursday evening.
Hamilton, 39, signed a new two-year contract with Mercedes last summer. His contract is known to have a one-year release clause, which Hamilton has opted to exercise.
The possibility of Hamilton moving to Ferrari in 2025 was first reported in the Italian and Spanish media on Thursday. BBC Sport have confirmed the move through multiple sources.
There have been rumors of Hamilton moving to Ferrari for years. So far, this has been empty, but several sources say that this is different.
Hamilton’s deal is done quickly. Ferrari was in talks to extend the contract with Carlos Sainz, whose contract expires at the end of this season.
But Ferrari president John Elkann realized that Hamilton was a possibility and moved to sign him. The two are friends and have met on several occasions in recent years.
Hamilton won the latest of his seven world titles in 2020 and signed his latest two-year contract with Mercedes in August, which will extend his time with the team to 13 years.
Red Bull have dominated the sport for the past two years since the controversial 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, when Hamilton lost to Max Verstappen after former FIA chief Michael Masi ignored safety car rules late on.
Since then, he has been driven by the desire to avenge what he believes to be an injustice and win his eighth title.
At the end of last season, Hamilton sounded like he believed that Mercedes could recover from two difficult seasons and challenge Red Bull.
In an interview with BBC Sport and other selected sites at the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi, he said: “I believe we have the North Star now. Which I don’t think we have had for two years. There is still no straight line.
“I think we understand the car very well. They have made great equipment at the back. So naturally, I hope, but I will not rest.”
Ferrari has also had a couple of difficult seasons, and the two teams battled for second place in the constructors’ championship last year, with Mercedes narrowly winning despite Ferrari being the fastest car at the end of the season.
Hamilton’s move will send shockwaves through F1 – similar to his decision to switch from McLaren to Mercedes in the 2013 season.
At the time, many doubted Hamilton’s decision, but it turned out well – he and the team dominated F1 from the 2014 season, making the Briton the best driver in F1 history.
The allure of Ferrari, the sport’s most iconic and alluring team, is strong for many drivers. Until now, Hamilton seems to have taken no action – he has said several times that he wants to spend the rest of his life with Mercedes, and the two have several projects together, especially on the diversity and equality of races.
But it seems the chance to spend the final years of his career driving for Ferrari would be too good to turn down – it’s something Hamilton’s boyhood idol Ayrton Senna was also planning to do before he was killed in a crash driving a Williams car. 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.
Hamilton’s move will explode the F1 driver market.
Mercedes is looking for a replacement for Hamilton at the end of the season, Ferrari’s Sainz is looking for a new job.
And with the exception of Fernando Alonso, whose Aston Martin contract expires this season, there are no established drivers available to join Mercedes alongside George Russell.
Max Verstappen has signed a contract with Red Bull until 2027, Leclerc has committed to Ferrari and Lando Norris has also signed a new contract with McLaren.
Analysis – Has Hamilton recovered?
Hamilton’s move to Ferrari is one of the biggest – and most surprising – stories in F1 for years.
Hamilton has insisted he wants to spend the rest of his career with Mercedes – comparing his situation to that of Stirling Moss, who was the Mercedes boss for the rest of his life.
But things have changed and Hamilton has decided that he cannot resist the allure of Ferrari, whose history, legend and mystique will always be a strong attraction for any F1 driver.
Hamilton is still the biggest star in F1, and its most successful driver, with the most world titles is Michael Schumacher and the most successful race wins.
His decision to leave Mercedes is a big blow to the team he signed a two-year contract with a few months ago.
His decision is as much the confidence of Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur – with whom Hamilton has been close since working with him in the junior teams – as it is with Mercedes.
Both have struggled with Red Bull in the last two seasons since the new regulations were introduced, but Hamilton should see something of Ferrari’s progress towards the end of last season.
It is impossible to imagine the reasons for this migration, or its consequences, without the context.
Hamilton was very disappointed with the outcome of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. He believes he was robbed of his eighth national championship by race director Masi for failing to follow the rules correctly and driving a safety car late in the race.
Since then, he has been driven by a desire to avenge that injustice – although he has never put it that way in front of people.
With Mercedes, back in 2012, his judgment was amazing – he showed everyone who doubted his decision to leave McLaren, and started the best time that the F1 team and the driver have ever spent together.
Has he found success again, or has he just made a decision he will regret?