Hamilton Staying Put for Now But Ferrari Move Can’t Be Ruled Out Entirely
After months of speculation, Sebastian Vettel’s departure from Ferrari has been confirmed. The four-time world champion will leave the Italian giants by mutual consent at the end of the 2020 season.
Despite the rumors, Lewis Hamilton will not replace the German in 2021. Instead, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz will hook up with Ferrari, having signed a two-year deal that will take him up to the end of the 2023 season.
As for Vettel, the future is uncertain. Will he decide to continue his career in Formula 1, or will retirement be on the cards for a driver who registered a pretty forgetful five years at the Scuderia? With just fourteen wins and two runner’s up trophies in five seasons, it’s safe to say the Tifosi will not shed many tears when he moves on.
At one point, tongues were wagging at the prospect of Hamilton replacing his former rival. But with Sainz taking the number two seat behind the impressive Charles LeClerc, the pulsating prospect of a partnership between the Brit and the Italian giants is off the cards. At least, for now.
That said, could Hamilton still race for the Scuderia in the future? Today, I’m going to attempt to paint a picture of how the defending world champion could still find himself in the famous red colors before he retires from the sport and just why Hamilton to Ferrari can’t be ruled out entirely.
Hamilton Is Sticking With Mercedes… For Now
I discussed the idea of Mercedes’ Hamilton joining Ferrari in a piece I wrote back in December, arguing that he could very well link up with the Italians in 2021.
With news of Vettel’s departure at the end of 2020, it did seem like the stars were aligning for what would have been the most sensational transfer in modern F1 history.
This year’s F1 championship was postponed before the first GP in Melbourne. This was supposed the year when Hamilton equaled Michael Schumacher’s record of seven titles and edged towards trying to beat his all-time record of 91 victories. What we know now is that Hamilton should, at very least, get the opportunity to break both records at Mercedes.
Although his contract is up at the end of the year, it is as near to impossible as you can get to suggest that he will move anywhere else. However, the future of team principal Toto Wolff is less certain, and this was seen as a potential factor in Hamilton leaving the constructor.
To the more romantic F1 fans, the prospect of Hamilton moving to Ferrari seemed right. After all, he would have the unique, modern-day opportunity to win titles at three different constructors. Having won a championship at McLaren and five — which could potentially be six at Mercedes if he can clinch the title in 2020 — overtaking Schumacher’s major records would cement him as one of the true greats of the sport.
But we can all but forget about that happening in 2021, with Sainz getting the gig. But that does not mean that a future role for Hamilton at Ferrari is a no-go.
When news of Vettel’s departure married with talk of Hamilton moving to Ferarri, there was talk of Charles Leclerc’s position as number one coming into question. Naturally, this was something that caused concern for the Tifosi.
At just 22 years old, the Monegasque is coming off a season where he clinched two wins and 10 podiums as the team’s number two. Having signed a five-year extension to his deal recently, it goes without saying that he would have had to take a back seat to Hamilton if he took the spot vacated by Vettel.
But with Sainz coming in as a number two, Leclerc’s position is cast iron. It was enjoyable to briefly entertain the possibility of Hamilton and Leclerc working together in 2021. If they are to race on the same team in the future, how would that look?
For the time being, Hamilton will be at Mercedes. At least for a couple of seasons. But if the Sainz move doesn’t work out for Ferrari, could we see Hamilton end his racing days in the famous red overalls?
Arguments Against Hamilton Moving to Ferrari
The top three teams in F1 seem to be set on a dynamic that features a number one and number two driver. Hamilton-Bottas at Mercedes, Verstappen-Albon at Red Bull, and now Leclerc-Sainz at Ferrari prove this point.
Even if Hamilton harbors a desire to leave Mercedes for Ferrari in 2022, the year when new regulations will have a sizeable impact on F1, he will be banking on Carlos Sainz being offloaded by the constructor. He has two years on his deal, so this isn’t exactly out of the question.
Let’s imagine that Sainz fails to cut the mustard at Ferrari, and the rumors of Vettel moving to Mercedes materialize. Hamilton, who at this point might very well have won his seventh and even eight Drivers’ Championship, could join the team. But in what capacity?
Would Lewis Hamilton be happy to play second fiddle to Charles Leclerc if the Ferrari number one is at a level which he is expected to get to over the next couple of years? If so, would Hamilton’s move be more of a vanity project for both parties, rather than an attempt to install the Brit as the star of the show?
Ferrari has operated with two number ones in the past, but it’s highly unlikely that they would look to get in the way of Leclerc’s progress. He is the future of Ferrari, and if he is to enjoy an upward trajectory in a nurturing environment, introducing a bonafide legend of the sport to the mix might not be the best idea.
It’s all conjecture at this point, of course. Leclerc is not guaranteed to excel.
Could Hamilton Join Ferrari in 2022?
In Leclerc and Sainz, Ferrari F1 now has its youngest driving team since 1968.
And while Sainz might seem like the safe bet, he will still have to hit the ground running. Vettel’s deal was reported to be financially unacceptable, and Sainz has probably been drafted in on less money.
Mattia Binotto and the team clearly have faith in Leclerc establishing himself as the man in the future, but Sainz’s role is less certain. He has been signed as the number two to Leclerc and will be expected to play a similar role to the one Valtteri Bottas operates at Mercedes.
But if the move does not pay off, there is no concrete reason to suggest that Hamilton could end his days at Ferrari. Especially if he has won an eighth title at Mercedes and broken Schumacher’s record for the most wins in the history of F1.
As it stands, Mercedes is the strongest team on the grid. Hamilton is the hot favorite to win his seventh title in 2020, even with Verstappen and Leclerc on his tail. If he can do everything there is to do at Mercedes, the lure of racing at Ferrari might be too difficult to pass up. Even if he is not the main man.
Let’s be honest here — Leclerc will be looking to take over the position that Hamilton currently occupies in F1, and he has the backing of his team to make it happen. He could learn a lot from having Hamilton on his team in the future, but at what expense?
Having tasked myself with trying to find an angle where the possibility of Hamilton joining Ferrari in the future is feasible, I have to admit that it’s a hard sell. It would be amazing to see Hamilton in a Ferrari, sure, but it does seem highly unlikely at this point.
Of course, you cannot rule anything out in this sport. The past has taught us that anything is possible, and to completely scrap the idea of these F1 powerhouses combining would be silly.
The future holds all of the answers. So it will be a case of waiting to see what happens.
The 2021 F1 grid is going to look a lot different, that’s for sure.
Carlos Sainz will replace Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari, while Daniel Ricciardo will link up at McLaren. Lewis Hamilton will still be at Mercedes, presumably, but teammate Valtteri Bottas’ future is uncertain. Could we see Hamilton and Vettel in the same team? Crazy, but stranger things have happened.
As for Hamilton’s future with Mercedes, that is a question that no one can say for certain. If the Brit goes on to dominate over the next couple of seasons, there is a chance that he might opt to retire. Then again, could he finish his F1 days with Ferrari?
The 2020 F1 season is due to begin in July, and you can expect to see the top F1 betting sites rolling out the odds. If you have your ideas about who will win the 2020 F1 championship or can’t wait to get back to betting on the races, make sure to check these out.
Finally, let me know your thoughts about Lewis Hamilton one day racing for Ferrari. Drop me a line below, and give me your hot take on the idea!