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Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton's last dance with Mercedes

The story of a well-kept secret.

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Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton's last dance with Mercedes

The story of a well-kept secret. On February 1, Mercedes announced the departure of Lewis Hamilton at the end of the season. And at the same time, he formalized his arrival, for the 2025 season, at Ferrari. A transfer like a huge thunderclap on the paddock, still stunned by the news. Which no one saw coming, and for good reason as the Briton recounted on the Back at Base podcast. “I didn't have much time to think and decided to take the opportunity. There was instinct and heart. I didn't tell anyone about it. I only told my parents on the day of the announcement. I really wanted to carry out this reflection alone to find what was best for me.

A choice that he took the time to explain in detail a week ago during preseason tests in Bahrain. With one main source of motivation: collaborating again with Frédéric Vasseur. “I have great confidence in him,” confided the Briton. “Our relationship goes back a very long time. I raced with him in F3, then in GP2, meeting with success and we got along well since then, we have always stayed in touch. He's a brilliant manager and I knew he would come to F1 one day. So I thought it was cool that he took over the Sauber team and I was very happy when he then got the opportunity to join Ferrari. And let's be clear, I don't think I would have signed if he hadn't been there. It’s very exciting to see him at work and I will be delighted to come full circle in my career with him who was by my side at the start.”

To this was added, inevitably, the Ferrari legend. “Like all drivers my age, I grew up with this image of Michael (Schumacher) all in red, at the wheel of this red car, supported by all these fans dressed in red. And like all pilots, I wondered what it was like to be surrounded by red. Even if by going to Monza, we have a small idea of ​​it, I had this desire to experience it from the inside, to no longer be a simple spectator of this madness. And then since 2007, the team hasn't had much success. So I also see it as a nice challenge to try to bring the Scuderia back to the top.” Which does not, however, prevent him from adding, with regard to his current team: “It was undoubtedly the most difficult decision to make to leave all these people with whom I have been riding for so long. Now, if we wrote part of the story together, I felt like I needed to open a new chapter.”

But even if there are only love stories that end badly according to the song, Lewis Hamilton is still keen to leave Mercedes, with whom he has always collaborated - either as a simple engine manufacturer of the time of McLaren or as a team in its own right - since its debut in F1 in 2007, on the best possible note. “I am 100% focused and motivated for this last season with this team. I want to end with a success and I have every confidence in this team to achieve it. A success that has stubbornly eluded him since December 5, 2021 and the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. But after a very difficult 2022 season, symbolic of the pain caused by the 8th title stolen in Abu Dhabi during the final lap of the final race of the previous season, the seven-time world champion raised his head during the last exercise to finish on the podium in the drivers' classification. In front of a George Russell who seemed to have gained the upper hand, before being brought back gently, but firmly, with his feet on the asphalt.

It remains to be seen whether his Silver Arrow will allow him to reach his target. Which does not yet seem to be the case when listening to the British driver after the pre-season tests carried out in Bahrain. “We know there is still work to do and we are not yet at the level we want to be. We knew this would be the case before the test. We have a great platform that we can build on. We will work hard over the next few days to analyze all the data from the test and I am very excited to start the season. I think we will approach it in good conditions.” But will that be enough against the near-invincible Max Verstappen-Red Bull tandem? Start of response this Saturday, still in Bahrain, with the first grand prize of a season which will include 24. History of prolonging this last dance as much as possible.

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