Bombarded by messages from so-called friends teasing me about Lewis Hamilton joining Ferrari, one even had the audacity to ask if I’d get a Hamilton tattoo if he became Ferrari’s next World Champion, I’ve found myself having to come to terms with the disturbing news that next season I’ll be a Lewis Hamilton fan.
That, most definitely, was never on my F1 bingo card and yet here we are.
Arriving on the Formula 1 grid in 2007, Hamilton not only announced himself as a future World Champion but also the bane of the Tifosi’s existence.
Lewis Hamilton v Ferrari, stats in the Briton’s favour
Although he lost the title to Kimi Raikkonen in 2007, that would be the last time he’d go up against a Ferrari driver for the ultimate prize and come up short. And let’s be honest, the only reason he lost to the Finn was because McLaren had two drivers fighting for the title, and Ferrari had just Raikkonen.
He got his revenge a year later as he pipped Felipe Massa by a single point, coming from behind at the Brazilian Grand Prix with a last-lap-of-the-season pass on Timo Glock to grab the P5 he needed to wrap up the title.
Misery doesn’t even begin to describe what Massa, Ferrari, and their Tifosi were feeling as they celebrated the championship for a joyous 38 seconds. And then it was gone.
That both Sebastian Vettel’s runner-up results in the standings, 2017 and 2018, were second to Hamilton did nothing to endear the Briton to the Tifosi.
That he won six titles in seven years, Mercedes making it seven from seven, while Ferrari counted yet another campaign and then another without a Drivers’ crown only added to the ill feelings.
He kept beating Ferrari, and it was irrespective of who was second, it always just felt like another Ferrari loss.
The dislike grew to the point that when Max Verstappen went up against Hamilton for the 2021 World title, the Tifosi celebrated the end of the seven-time World Champion’s reign. More to the point, it prevented Hamilton from taking our Michael Schumacher’s record.
Now Ferrari’s die-hard fans are being asked to support the 39-year-old, and do so as he bids to break Schumacher’s record.
Talk about a U-Turn of note.
From adversary to hero…
Thankfully we have a year to adapt to it so there won’t be a host of Ferrari fans missing work with whiplash next March when the 2025 season begins with Hamilton’s first race in red.
But this isn’t the first time the Tifosi have had to change their mindset from adversary to hero, in fact, it’s the fourth time in less than two decades.
Back in 2007, mourning the retirement of Schumacher, the fanbase had to welcome Kimi Raikkonen, who although he wasn’t the one who forced the German out, he was the one to replace the Ferrari legend. Arriving from McLaren didn’t help his cause.
Two years later it was Alonso, the man who ended Schumacher’s five-year reign, who donned the iconic red. At the time it was probably a good thing the Tifosi and F1 as a whole didn’t yet know all the facts about Singapore 2008. So instead, he was widely welcomed given he hadn’t been much of a threat in the years prior.
Then it was Vettel. Finger Boy. Four years of winning one World title after another, and beating Alonso in three of those, he wasn’t a Ferrari favourite… until he pulled on the red overalls.
The way to the Tifosi’s heart is simple…
Because, and it is a very simple because, Ferrari fans only want one thing – a Drivers’ Championship title. And if they believe you are the driver who can do that for them, they’ll give you their full support, their adoration, hero-worship, and everything else you could want.
Even if your name is Lewis Hamilton.
Although the Briton hasn’t won a Grand Prix or World title since 2021, he has 103 of the first and seven of the latter. After an off-colour 2022, where it’s fair to say he was dealing with the emotional fall-out of Abu Dhabi 2021, he bounced back last season.
Mercedes didn’t give him a car that could fight the Red Bull, but on days he was good, he proved to the world that he had lost none of that ability. And it’s that ability Ferrari need from him, both on the track and in the factory.
Bygones be bygones, history is in the past, and the hard feelings and harsh words along with it. He’s now, at least in 2025, a Ferrari driver and we’ll love him for it.
Win a World title, and who knows about that tattoo…