‘Too much of a handful’ – ‘Selfish’ Lewis Hamilton criticised over ‘strange’ Ferrari F1 2025 move

Oliver Harden
A close-up shot of Lewis Hamilton with a prominent Ferrari logo alongside him

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Former Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has taken aim at Lewis Hamilton over his “strange” F1 2025 switch to Ferrari, arguing the outgoing Mercedes driver is “too much of a handful.”

Hamilton rocked the F1 world in February by announcing that he will join Ferrari on a multi-year contract from F1 2025, ending his long and successful alliance with Mercedes.

Lewis Hamilton criticised over Ferrari F1 2025 move

His announcement came just five months after Hamilton had signed a new two-year contract to remain with Mercedes until the end of 2025, with the 39-year-old activating a break clause before the first season of his new deal had even started.

It has resulted in the unusual situation of Hamilton spending the entire F1 2024 campaign with the team in the knowledge that they will part ways at the end of the year, with team boss Toto Wolff left with a frantic search for a new team-mate to George Russell.

Carlos Sainz, the driver whom Hamilton will replace at Ferrari, as well as reigning World Champion Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ 17-year-old sensation Andrea Kimi Antonelli have all been linked with the vacant seat.

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Ecclestone, who ran the Brabham team with distinction before becoming F1’s overlord, was left bemused by the bombshell – and saw it as proof that the relationship between Hamilton and Wolff is not as close as it seemed.

He told RacingNews365: “It was a strange, strange move to make.

“Toto has relied on him an awful lot more and they’ve become close for selfish reasons – both of them.

“I don’t think there was ever a sort of a relationship where you could rely on both parties. There obviously wasn’t because that’s why he suddenly decided to leave.

“Big surprise in as far as I didn’t understand why he did it, given the year’s notice basically.

“Why didn’t he wait [to announce it] until later on during the season?

“People thought [Ferrari had] done a clever deal in taking him, but I think it’s a bit of an ego thing that he got latched into it all.”

Ecclestone insisted he would not have signed Hamilton, claiming Wolff and Mercedes had allowed him to exert too much power within the team.

“Too much of a handful – an unnecessary handful,” he said. “He really sort of commands a little at Mercedes.

“Toto has let him be like that, to keep him on board and keep him happy.

“But I never had that with the drivers. They’re still good, good friends of mine – genuine friends, not for finance or whatever. Good friends.

“I’d rather have that sort of relationship rather than the fact I jump when somebody says jump, or defend a situation. If I wanted to do something, I’d do it if I thought it was the right thing to do.”

Hamilton’s switch to Ferrari will see him reunited with team principal Fred Vassuer, who oversaw his title-winning GP2 (now F2) season back in 2006, with the veteran also known to be on friendly terms with Ferrari chairman John Elkann.

Almost a year after reports first emerged that Elkann had offered Hamilton a big-money offer of £40million to leave Mercedes, Ecclestone feels the Ferrari chairman’s pursuit of the star was driven by ego.

He added: “Fred knew him from their early days and I think John Elkann at Ferrari, from his point of view, it was a bit of an ego thing that he’s managed to capture one of the leading Formula 1 drivers – the best Formula 1 driver, in many people’s opinion.

“These things happen. Just a whole set of circumstances that come together.”

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