Will Hamilton expose remaining Ferrari weaknesses?


In the end, even Lewis Hamilton, the most successful Formula 1 driver of all-time, could not turn down the allure of Ferrari.

It appears the seven-time champion is set to leave Mercedes after 12 seasons at the end of 2024 and head for Italy and join Ferrari.

Essentially, after the blunder of the 2022 and failure to listen to his advice over the launch-spec 2023 car which retained the zero sidepods despite Hamilton’s pleas not to, he has lost confidence in the team to ever be able to turn things around.

The fact that news of his departure has come before he has even driven the 2024 W15 is damning. And as history has shown, when a legendary driver is unhappy with his equipment, he will go and crowbar himself into something better.

For chairman John Elkann, it is a personal triumph. A long-time admirer of Hamilton, Elkann has managed to breach Mercedes and persuade Hamilton that Maranello’s grass is greener than Brackley’s.

The most famous F1 driver in the world racing, at last, for the most famous team in F1 is a PR and sponsor dream. Hamilton and Charles Leclerc would make a fascinating line-up between the veteran determined to win that eighth crown and one of the elites of F1’s next generation already biting at his heels.

That is a fascinating dynamic, but it comes with potential jeopardy for Ferrari: Hamilton’s experience of winning will likely expose any remaining weaknesses in the operation his old GP2 boss Frederic Vasseur has rebuilt.

Ferrari’s weaknesses

Over the past few seasons, Ferrari has failed to maintain a consistent title assault after coming out of the blocks strongly.

In 2017, the team was still not mature and grizzled enough to sustain a title challenge with Sebastian Vettel and 12 months later, it was more Vettel’s implosion that cost him in ‘the battle for five’ with Hamilton in 2018.

The chassis was not up to scratch in 2019, before a rebuild effectively wiped out the last two seasons of the old rules cycle.

For ground effects in 2022, Ferrari’s F1-75 was immediately out of the block but repeated strategic, reliability and operational blunders end up costing Mattia Binotto his job and made Ferrari a laughing stock.

But Vasseur, a pure racer at heart, has whipped the race team into shape during his tenure thus far and these blunders were sharply reduced in 2023. The technical team also made good progress in unlocking the SF-23 as the season developed, something Mercedes could not with the W14.

Ferrari has been a technically exciting team in recent years with the trackside operations denying it a shot at race wins and titles. Unlike Mercedes, it crucially has technical stability in key roles unlike the major departures that have affected the Silver Arrows in recent years, including the Technical Director, twice, Chief Technical Officer, power unit director, engineering director and head of strategy.

But while Ferrari might feel it is on the right track, Hamilton coming in will test its resolve.

You don’t win 103 Grands Prix and seven titles and been runner-up three times without being a hard task-master.

Hamilton will bring vital championship and race-winning DNA to Ferrari, something that has been lacking at the Scuderia with just five wins since 2019.

The Briton – the first to race for the Scuderia since Eddie Irvine – will not take any fools and will drag Ferrari to the level required.

If Hamilton can go to Ferrari and be the driver to bring the title back to Maranello and break the joint-record he holds with Michael Schumacher, that is the crowning glory.

Who do you think should replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes – let us know in the comments and by voting in the poll!



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