Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton is about to make a surprise switch to Ferrari for the 2025 Formula One season, according to reports on Thursday.
The Italian team want the 39-year-old Briton to partner their current driver Charles Leclerc, according to a number of reports in Britain and Italy.
The BBC reported that Mercedes team staff were called to a meeting with boss Toto Wolff at their UK headquarters on Thursday to be told Hamilton will leave at the end of the 2024 season and head to one of Formula One’s most storied names.
Reports in Italy say the move could be announced officially as early as Thursday evening.
A move to Ferrari would raise eyebrows because Hamilton has signed a two-year contract with his current team Mercedes for the 2024 and 2025 seasons, but that deal reportedly contains a clause allowing him to leave after one season.
Several reports say Hamilton’s agreement with Ferrari was put together hastily as the team was in talks with Spanish driver Carlos Sainz, whose deal runs out at the end of this season, about a contract extension.
Hamilton won the last of his world titles in 2020 but lost the 2021 championship in controversial fashion to Max Verstappen when the race director ignored the safety car rules in Abu Dhabi, effectively blocking the Briton’s route to victory in both that grand prix and the championship.
The Dutch Red Bull driver, who is 13 years younger than Hamilton, has dominated the F1 scene ever since.
Hamilton finished sixth in the drivers’ standings in 2022 and third in 2023.
Ferrari, who have admitted they held discussions with Hamilton in 2019 about joining them in the future, declined to comment on the reports they were negotiating a switch for the 2025 season.
A Ferrari spokesman said: “We do not comment on rumours.”
Mercedes did not reply when contacted by AFP.
Hamilton has never hidden his anger at the 2021 incident in Abu Dhabi, believing he was robbed of an eighth title that would have put him ahead of Ferrari legend Michael Schumacher.
He has made clear his frustration with the performance of his Mercedes car in the last two years and might believe a move to Ferrari would enable him to reignite his challenge for that elusive history-making title.
However Ferrari have also suffered patchy form in the last few seasons although they seemed to find momentum towards the end of last season.
That improvement was not enough to prevent Mercedes beating them to second place behind Red Bull in the constructors’ championship.
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