Lewis Hamilton causes confusion over Ferrari factory visit after Maranello claim

Thomas Maher
Lewis Hamilton in the pits during Bahrain F1 pre-season testing

Lewis Hamilton in the pit lane.

Lewis Hamilton said he’s never been to Maranello, contradicting a claim by Piero Ferrari that the F1 World Champion has visited their factory.

Hamilton will make a sensational switch to join Ferrari in 2025, moving away from Mercedes after more than a decade racing with the Brackley-based team that netted six Drivers’ Championships.

The unification of Hamilton and Ferrari created headlines globally on the day of the announcement – even well outside the sphere of F1 and sport – with Ferrari’s share prices soaring more than 10 percent, a value of $7 billion, on that day.

Lewis Hamilton contradicts Piero Ferrari Maranello visit claim

While Hamilton moving to Ferrari makes for a hugely anticipated alliance as both sides aim to take title glory together, the British driver has caused confusion by, apparently, forgetting about a visit to Maranello a few years ago.

Addressing the media for the first time since the Ferrari announcement earlier this month, Hamilton stated that he’s never visited Ferrari’s factory home in Italy as he feared the optics had he been spotted doing so.

“I have not,” he told media, including PlanetF1.com, on Friday in Bahrain, when asked if he’d ever visited Maranello.

“I bought my first Ferrari in 2010 (sic) [Hamilton took delivery of his LaFerrari road car in 2015 – editor], I think.

“That was my first present to myself. I don’t have it anymore, but I didn’t get to go during that time.

“Being with Mercedes, I didn’t think it was a good look to go.”

But it appears Hamilton may have forgotten that he, apparently, had been a visitor to the Ferrari factory a few years ago as Ferrari vice-chairman Piero Ferrari – son of late founder Enzo – recently spoke about Hamilton’s expedition to Maranello to pick up his LaFerrari.

Speaking to esteemed Italian journalist Leo Turrini for Quotidiano Nazionale, the 78-year-old addressed Hamilton’s upcoming switch to Ferrari and revealed the seven-time World Champion’s previous interest in the red team.

“Perhaps not everyone knows that Lewis has always been sensitive to the fascination of the Prancing Horse,” Ferrari said.

“He’s a customer of ours! He has visited the factory more than once.”

Ferrari clarified Hamilton had not visited the F1 racing department of the factory, which perhaps explains Hamilton’s contradiction, but said he had come to Maranello for tips on his new LaFerrari.

“He came as a buyer of our cars. He is not just a speed ace,” he said.

“He has a genuine love for supercars. His garage couldn’t be without our cars. One in particular…

“The model called LaFerrari. Hamilton came to Maranello to give directions on how to set up the car. It was on that occasion that we greeted each other cordially.”

It was at this point that Ferrari also revealed that Hamilton had ‘joked’ about being interested in a seat with the Scuderia.

“We had Vettel in the team and we were happy with Seb,” he said.

“We had just renewed the contract with the German, which was going well. Lewis made a joke: if you waited twelve months I would come in…”

Reports also swirled in Italian media in 2014 that Hamilton had been spotted in Maranello during the car-buying process, although this was never officially confirmed by the manufacturer.

Lewis Hamilton reveals Michael Schumacher wonder

While Hamilton has also stated in the past that he used to pick Kimi Raikkonen’s car when playing computer games growing up, the British driver has updated that to say he chose the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher for his gaming sessions in his youth.

“For every driver growing up, watching the history, watching Michael Schumacher in his prime, I think probably all of us sit in our garage and see the screen pop up and you see the driver in the red car and you wonder what it would be like to be surrounded by the red,” Hamilton said when explaining the logic behind his desire to join Ferrari.

“You go to the Italian GP, and you see a sea of red Ferrari fans, and you can only stand in awe of that. It’s a team that’s not had huge success, really, since mostly from Michael’s days, but since 2007.

“I saw it as a huge challenge. Without a doubt, even as a kid, I used to play in GP2 [computer game] as Michael in that car. It definitely is a dream, and I’m really, really excited about it.”

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