Maranello (Italy), Feb 2: Seven-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton will make a sensational switch from Mercedes to Ferrari next year on a multi-year contract, the Italian team confirmed.
"Scuderia Ferrari is pleased to announce that Lewis Hamilton will be joining the team in 2025, on a multi-year contract," the team's statement read.
Hamilton has raced for the Mercedes since the 2013 season and has won six of his seven world titles with the team, adding to the crown he achieved at McLaren earlier in his career. He had also re-committed to Mercedes last summer, signing a new deal to keep him aboard through 2025, but this will now be cut short to allow for his shocking move.
The 39-year-old has termed his move of leaving Mercedes as "one of the hardest decisions."
"I have had an amazing 11 years with this team Mercedes and I'm so proud of what we have achieved together. Mercedes has been part of my life since I was 13 years old. It's a place where I have grown up, so making the decision to leave was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make.
"But the time is right for me to take this step and I'm excited to be taking on a new challenge. I will be forever grateful for the incredible support of my Mercedes family, especially Toto for his friendship and leadership and I want to finish on a high together. I am 100% committed to delivering the best performance I can this season and making my last year with the Silver Arrows, one to remember," Hamilton was quoted by F1.
Hamilton’s decision comes after two challenging seasons for the Brackley squad, who have struggled to adapt to F1’s latest ground effect era and have dropped behind Red Bull in the pecking order.
On Thursday evening, Mercedes confirmed that both they and Hamilton would be parting ways at the end of 2024 with Hamilton activating a release option in his contract. Ferrari soon followed by announcing the seven-time world champion would be joining from 2025 on a multi-year contract.
It means Hamilton will link up with Charles Leclerc, who recently agreed an extension with the Scuderia beyond 2024, while Carlos Sainz will have to make way at the end of this year.
Following the announcement that Hamilton would be swapping the Mercedes for Ferrari, Sainz, the driver he will be replacing, released his own statement via social media.
"Following today's news, Scuderia Ferrari and myself will part ways at the end of 2024. We still have a long season ahead of us and, like always, I will give my absolute best for the team and for the Tifosi all around the world. News about my future will be announced in due course," said Sainz. (IANS)