Mystic Marko? Red Bull senior advisor Helmut Marko had quipped that Lewis Hamilton could shed the annoyance of being paid less than Max Verstappen by joining Ferrari…
Hamilton is arguably the most marketable driver on the Formula 1 grid, though the seven-time World Champion has in recent years been demoted from top spot, both on the track and financially, by Red Bull’s dominant force Verstappen, who has now reeled off three World Championship triumphs in successive seasons.
Hamilton and Mercedes are among the chasing pack looking to quell the Verstappen assault, though F1 2024 will be the final year of this union, with a shock Hamilton switch to Ferrari come 2025 now confirmed.
Did Lewis Hamilton chase the Ferrari salary predicted by Helmut Marko?
According to Forbes, Verstappen topped the F1 driver earnings list for 2023 with $70million pocketed, while Hamilton took home $55m, his higher base wage than Verstappen’s comfortably wiped out by a second successive winless season bringing zero in bonuses.
In the midst of Hamilton’s F1 2023 frustration, Marko suggested that as well as being absent from the title scene, Verstappen earning more was also of great annoyance to Hamilton, claiming the way he could fix that is by joining Ferrari.
Lo and behold, Hamilton’s shock switch to Ferrari, on multi-year terms from 2025, has now been confirmed in one of the biggest driver moves Formula 1 has ever witnessed.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff often likes to use a crystal ball analogy, but while Hamilton’s Ferrari salary is unconfirmed, it seems Marko has been using his magical powers for this one.
Speaking to F1-Insider in 2023, Marko said: “There are two things that really annoy Hamilton. Firstly, that he is no longer World Champion and will have a hard time becoming one again in the future.
“He knows that there is no place for him at Red Bull. And whether Ferrari is better for him than Mercedes in the future in sporting terms is not set in stone.
“Apart from the sporting perspective, Lewis is anything but happy about the fact that he is no longer the best-earning driver in Formula 1. That is now Max Verstappen.
“At least he could change that with Ferrari’s help.”
Hamilton has already assured 100 per cent commitment in his final Mercedes season, as he looks to depart Brackley with a record-breaking eighth World Championship secured.
To end the Verstappen era though is a mighty challenge, the Dutchman looking for a fourth consecutive title in F1 2024 which would see him match Sebastian Vettel’s achievement with Red Bull between 2010-13.