Even if Lewis Hamilton persuades Pete Bonnington to join him at Ferrari, he may have to wait a few months for his arrival due to ‘gardening leave’ clauses.
Hamilton broke the internet last week when the Briton announced this year’s championship would be his last with Mercedes having signed a multi-year contract with Ferrari from 2025.
Almost immediately questions were asked about his long-time race engineer, Bono.
Could Pete Bonnington follow Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari in 2025?
It’s a conversation Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff will have with the Briton in the coming months.
Addressing the media, including PlanetF1.com, Wolff said: “I think this is a discussion that everyone needs to have in the months to come.
“As much as I’ve spoken with Bono already, when I told him, he said ‘Is it April the first?’
“That’s something which we will discuss in the future in the next couple [of months].”
But while Wolff’s comment suggests Bono may have been surprised by Hamilton’s announcement, that doesn’t mean the race engineer, trusted by Hamilton, won’t be persuaded to swap Brackley for Maranello.
There is, however, one notable complication: gardening leave.
That’s usually a set period in a high-level team member’s contract in which they cannot work for a rival team. As such, even if Bono does opt to follow Hamilton at the end of the year, the Briton may start his first season as a Ferrari driver without his trusted race engineer.
“One complication is that Bonnington would have to stay with Mercedes until the final race of this season in Abu Dhabi on December 8th and then be available for Ferrari in early 2025, meaning a very tight transition in terms of the so-called ‘gardening leave’,” reports sport.de.
Ralf Schumacher believes Hamilton needs Bono at Ferrari
Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher believes if Hamilton wants to win with Ferrari, he’ll need Bono by his side.
“It depends on who is there,” he told Sky Deutschland of the seven-time World Champion’s chances for success.
“There are rumours that he is taking his race engineer with him and that would be the best thing that could happen to him because there is such a strong bond between the two.
“And who else will Vasseur bring in? That package at Ferrari wasn’t bad last year, but there was always the tyre problem and something had to be changed.”
If Bono does head to Ferrari that means Carlos Sainz’s engineer Riccardo Adami will need to be shuffled into a new position, unless he follows the Spaniard to his next team.