Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton is expected to leave Mercedes for Ferrari next year, according to reports, in a shock move that will see one of the sport’s greats join its most storied team.
Sky Sports News reported on Thursday that the seven-time world champion’s switch in 2025 would be made official after Mercedes employees were briefed. ESPN reported that the move is “as good as done” to replace Carlos Sainz, whose contract expires this year.
NBC News has not independently confirmed the news. Mercedes declined to comment, while Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton’s representatives did not immediately respond to queries.
If he leaves his current team, Hamilton would finish out the 2024 season with Mercedes and then race alongside Ferrari star Charles Leclerc, who signed a multi-year contract extension with the Italian team last week.
Hamilton, 39, has driven for Mercedes since 2013 and won six world championships with the team, after previously winning one title with McLaren. In 2021, he narrowly lost what would have been a record eighth championship to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who went on to dominate the 2022 and 2023 seasons.
While Red Bull has crushed the competition in the last two years, Ferrari and Mercedes have had close battles in both years for second place in the constructors championship, with Ferrari finishing ahead in 2022 and Mercedes finishing ahead in 2023.
Hamilton was rumored last year to be mulling a future move to Ferrari, but he shot down those rumors during the Monaco Grand Prix.
“Naturally when you’re in contract negotiations, there’s always going to be speculation. And I think ultimately that’s — unless you hear from me, then that’s all it is,” Hamilton said, joking that they may have been the result of reporters being “bored” between races.
Leclerc also addressed questions at the time about whether he would welcome Hamilton on the team.
“Lewis is such an incredible driver, has achieved so much in the sport. So I think anybody on the grid would love to have Lewis as a teammate, as everybody would learn a lot from him,” Leclerc said at the time, adding that he was happy to have Sainz as a teammate.
It’s far from clear that Hamilton would be better positioned to achieve his goal of an eighth championship at Ferrari.
Ferrari has not won a drivers’ championship since 2007, despite signing all-time greats like Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel in the period since then. The team has suffered from a series of mechanical failures and strategy errors during races in recent years, but remains the prestige name in the sport.
The surprise news comes just over a month before the start of the new season, which begins with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 2.