Revealed: How Lewis Hamilton can get Ferrari Tifosi to ‘absolutely adore’ him

Thomas Maher
Lewis Hamilton, 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton has been tipped to win over the tifosi quickly when he joins Ferrari next year.

Long-time Ferrari engineer Rob Smedley doubts Lewis Hamilton will be thrown off by a ‘culture shock’ when he switches to Maranello next year.

The former F1 engineer, who had spells with Jordan and Williams as well as a long tenure at Ferrari, is well-versed in the cultural differences between a team based in Britain and one based in Italy.

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With Hamilton confirmed as joining Ferrari in 2025, moving to race for the Italian squad after almost two decades of racing for British teams, two-time F1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen theorised that Hamilton is facing a big change in how a team operates.

“It’s quite a big change for him, because he’s been in a British team – let’s call it this way – for so many, many years,” Hakkinen told ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

“To now change to an Italian team, where he doesn’t have experience, it can be quite a big change for him – to understand the philosophy, and how they work.

“This has nothing to say they don’t work well or they don’t do the right thing, but it’s a big change.”

But Smedley, who spent 10 seasons with Ferrari between 2004 and 2013 before switching to Williams, said that, while there are differences, they won’t be the type to cause Hamilton to stumble.

“My experience of it was not a culture shock,” Smedley told in an interview ahead of the launch of his Global Karting League championship on the Saudi Arabian GP weekend.

“I mean, there’s definitely a different culture there. But it was something that I found, which is probably what kept me there for so long, something which was very, very positive – the passion.

“People talk about passion, and it’s a much-overused word – when you have to mention Ferrari, all of a sudden, you’re talking about passion. But what does it really mean?

“Formula One is hard. I think that’s a really simple statement but if you’re going to excel in F1, then every day when you get out of bed, you have to put 110 percent in.

“I think what the passion of the fans does, or the passion of the Ferrari community does for you, is it gives you the energy to be able to do that.

“If you want to kind of personify so say how the passion manifests, it manifests in a way that you just feel this huge support.

“When things aren’t going great, they’re very happy to tell you, absolutely to your face, that they don’t think things are going great. They never shy away from that. But you still have their support.” recommends

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With Ferrari’s legion of fans, the tifosi, known for their unwavering love of a driver racing in red, Smedley believes Hamilton will quickly win them over – despite having been driving for Ferrari’s rivals during many championship fights over the past two decades.

But Smedley is confident that, as long as Hamilton puts in the effort, he will be embraced by Ferrari’s passionate fans.

“That’s what the passion of the tifosi… that’s how it manifests itself. I think Lewis is a driver that will absolutely thrive in that environment,” he said.

“He has a duty to himself and to his employer, to embed himself as much as he can, to integrate himself into the community. If he can learn to speak a little bit of Italian, they will absolutely adore him for it. But whatever he puts in – if he puts 100 percent in, he’ll get 100 percent back.

“I think that’s probably the difference between Ferrari and everywhere else. It’s not just the fact that it’s a British team or whatever, I think it’s Ferrari and every other team.

“It’s going to be really interesting journey. Ferrari has had now the second-best car for a couple of years. Certainly, if you look at how fast they were developing that car at the end of last year, it was impressive.

“Okay, Red Bull took their foot off the gas as they put their efforts into 2024 but if you looked at the gap, especially in qualifying again, in Bahrain, they’re right there.

“Whether or not Lewis in a Ferrari today could take it to Max in a Red Bull, that’s a different question. But he hasn’t won seven World Championships by being lucky. He’s done it, because he is one of the all-time greats. I think somebody like Lewis can give Ferrari those extra one or two percentage points – that’s all they need.”

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