- By Lorraine McKenna
- BBC Sport
Lewis Hamilton will leave Mercedes at the end of the 2024 season and join Formula One rivals Ferrari on a multi-year deal in 2025.
The 39-year-old just signed a new two-year contract with Mercedes last summer.
However, it is understood that his contract has a one-year break clause, which the Briton chose to activate.
Hamilton said he is “proud” of the success he has achieved in 11 years with Mercedes.
The seven-time world champion added: “Mercedes has been part of my life since I was 13 years old.
“That’s where I grew up, so making the decision to leave was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.”
“But the time has come for me to do this and I’m happy to take on another challenge.”
Hamilton’s switch to the Italian team is one of the biggest transfers Formula 1 has ever seen – if not the biggest.
He is expected to partner Charles Leclerc in 2025, leaving Spaniard Carlos Sainz facing his final year as a Ferrari driver.
Hamilton joined Mercedes from McLaren for the 2013 season and earned seven out of seven starts with the team.
He also won 82 of his 103 races with the Silver Arrows.
Team boss Toto Wolff said the combination of Mercedes and Hamilton “has been the most successful sport they have ever seen”.
“And that’s something we can look back on with pride,” he added.
Hamilton said: “I will always appreciate the wonderful support of my Mercedes family, especially Toto for his friendship and leadership and I want to finish together.
“I am 100% committed to doing my best this season and making my last year with the Silver Arrows one to remember.”
Sainz confirmed via X, formerly Twitter, that he will leave Ferrari at the end of this season.
“We have a long season ahead of us, and, as always, I wish all the best to the team and to Tifosi around the world,” Sainz wrote.
The 29-year-old said news of his future will be announced “in due course”.
Hamilton’s great run with Mercedes has been halted in recent years, and the team has been unable to provide him with a car to challenge the power of Max Verstappen and Red Bull.
His last victory was at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in 2021 and a year later he finished sixth in the race – two places lower than new teammate George Russell.
Hamilton finished the campaign third in 2023, but was 341 points behind Verstappen, who took his third consecutive title.
Hamilton’s Ferrari move “very strong” – Mansell
Rumors that Hamilton was about to join Ferrari left many fans wondering if the silly season had started earlier this year, but the rumors at the event were 100% true.
Nigel Mansell, who spent two seasons with the Scuderia from 1989 to 1990, thinks the move will be an interesting one for the sport.
“I think it’s great for the fans and it’s very powerful,” Mansell told BBC Sport.
“I think for Lewis, maybe he will continue and finish his career with Ferrari, it’s like a dream come true for him, I think, because going to Ferrari is everything.”
Hamilton celebrated his 39th birthday last month and when the 2025 season starts, he will become the latest F1 driver to still be racing at the age of 40.
Mansell won the 1992 drivers’ championship in his second stint with Williams and said age played no part in Hamilton’s ability to compete.
“People say Lewis is old now,” he said. “At 39? No. I won my race at 39 and I could have done it, but politics got involved.
“But Lewis, if he’s motivated, he’s got a few, if not more years left, I think that’s great.
“Yes, Lewis can, but I’m sure Max [Verstappen] he will do everything in his power to stop him. And I’m sure that next year Ferrari will do everything in their power to stop him.
“But I think we have a good Formula 1 season coming up, and it looks like we’re going to have an interesting one in 2025.”