Lewis Hamilton warned of ‘hard’ Ferrari transition as key Mercedes allies to be blocked

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton in the Las Vegas drivers parade.

Lewis Hamilton is without a win since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

While former F1 driver turned pundit Martin Brundle says Lewis Hamilton ideally needs to take some of his “own gang” with him from Mercedes to Ferrari, he sees non-compete clauses getting in the way.

Hamilton’s final season with Mercedes is now fast approaching, with his blockbuster move to Ferrari for 2025 looming just over the horizon.

And when he embarks upon this new challenge, it has been widely reported that Hamilton will look to take fellow Mercedes defectors with him as a vital safety net. However, Brundle senses trouble is afoot when it comes to that plan.

Lewis Hamilton to start Ferrari life without Mercedes allies?

The likes of Mercedes performance director Loïc Serra, head of trackside performance Riccardo Musconi and Hamilton’s long-standing race engineer Pete Bonnington have all been linked with following him to Ferrari, but Brundle fears gardening leave periods would throw a spanner in the works if they attempted to make that switch.

So, while Brundle believes “respect” from Ferrari towards Hamilton will go a long way, he still reckons integrating into the Maranello outfit will be a “hard” task.

Speaking on the Sky Sports F1 podcast, Brundle said: “He’s got to integrate and it’s hard, because I don’t think he’ll speak the language, he certainly won’t speak the language and know the team like Charles Leclerc does.

“So you’ve got to go and find out where all the buttons are to press.

“And that’s why I think Lewis will want to try to take a few people with him. But there’ll be non-compete clauses where he can’t really do that. But you really want to take some of your own gang with you when you go so that you can hit the ground running.

“But I think he’ll have such respect there anyway, that if Lewis says, ‘I want the back wheels put on the front’, they’ll go, ‘Straight away.'”

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Sky F1 presenter and commentator Natalie Pinkham then told Brundle she sensed a change in the Ferrari ethos in recent years, whereby the “live in Italy, speak the language” demand is no longer so set in stone, as it was when four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel took the plunge and raced for the team.

Asked whether that is the case or drivers still need to embed themselves in Maranello and learn the language, Brundle replied: “I think it’s still the case.

“So how could this go for Lewis? He could do a Michael Schumacher and turn them into champions again. Or he could do Fernando Alonso and Seb Vettel where it’s kind of a bit of a near-miss, but look look pretty good on occasions.

“And just look at what Schumacher did. The Schumacher Piazza we’ve been in and filmed where Schumacher had his gym where he stayed overnight when he was always embedded in Fiorano in the factory, like Leclerc and [Carlos] Sainz have done.

“So I think if Lewis really wants to get a fast start in what is a completely different team to the seven British-based teams over there in Italy, I think you’ll have to go and embed himself in it.”

Sainz, the only non-Red Bull grands prix winner of 2023, is the driver left in need of finding a new home on the F1 grid due to Hamilton’s impending arrival. He has already been linked with Mercedes, Williams and Sauber, which will morph into Audi as of 2026.

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