How ‘market force’ Lewis Hamilton could ‘destabilise Red Bull’ with Ferrari move

Thomas Maher
Lewis Hamilton, 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton has been tipped to be a destabilising factor for Red Bull when he joins Ferrari.

Former Ferrari engineer Rob Smedley believes Lewis Hamilton can help the Scuderia “get over the hump” to take the fight to Red Bull.

Ferrari has had to watch on as Red Bull has swept all before it in recent years, but Lewis Hamilton’s arrival next year could provide the extra spark needed to challenge for the title, believes Rob Smedley.

Rob Smedley: Get over ‘the hump’ and teams become a ‘winning machine’

With Red Bull having won all but six races since the beginning of the current regulation cycle, there’s little argument to be made that the Milton Keynes-based squad aren’t currently the ‘winning machine’ in F1.

But Ferrari – as the team that took the sole non-Red Bull win in 2023 – has been consistently there or thereabouts since 2022, with signs of improvement this year as Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz have each taken a podium in the two races since.

But Sainz won’t be racing in red next year, as seven-time World Champion Hamilton sensationally made the decision to leave Mercedes in order to join Maranello for 2025.

This move could end up being the catalyst for unlocking the last little bit of impetus Ferrari needs to take the fight to Red Bull, believes Smedley – the former Ferrari engineer having put in 10 seasons with Maranello between 2004 and ’13.

“Ferrari has had now the second-best car for a couple of years,” Smedley told PlanetF1.com in an interview ahead of the launch of his Global Karting League championship over the Saudi Arabian GP weekend.

“Certainly, if you look at how fast they were developing that car at the end of last year, it was impressive.

“I think somebody like Lewis can give Ferrari those extra one or two percentage points – that’s all they need.

“That’s all sometimes a team in their position, that’s right on the brink of becoming the leading team, they just need that one or two percentage points of improvement everywhere across the board.

“Just that extra little bit of motivation, and then they get over the hump. Once you’re over the hump – I’ve been there and done this with Ferrari back in the day – suddenly, you become like this winning machine.

“That’s where Red Bull is now, right? Red Bull is a winning machine. They literally don’t know how to lose. That was the same with Mercedes in the years of prior dominance and before that, it was the same when I was at Ferrari.”

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With Red Bull’s dominance showing no sign of stopping, and with stable regulations for 2025 suggesting no reason for Red Bull to fall off the boil, Smedley believes it’ll take a ‘market force’ change like Hamilton’s switch to start shaking things up.

“You’ve got to make an actual intervention to start losing or there has to be some market force somewhere – Lewis could be that market force,” he said.

“That just changes things that gives the whole of Ferrari just that 1 per cent lift or whatever it is, to get to start nicking race wins from Red Bull.

“That starts to destabilise Red Bull and then the whole thing starts to go into a positive spiral for them.

“I should also point out that I’m also impressed by what Red Bull is doing, you cannot take anything away from them. People talk about when there’s a dominant team that it’s boring or whatever, it is not good for Formula 1.

“It’s true to a certain extent, but the reality is Formula 1 is a meritocracy. It’s not up to the sport, the governance of the sport, or Red Bull themselves, to sort this out for anybody else. It’s up to the other teams, who have exactly the same opportunity as Red Bull. So it’s up to them to try and catch them.”

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