Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari: Ex-Mercedes boss weighs in on ‘mystery’ decision

Michelle Foster
A race-ready Lewis Hamilton looks down to reveal the top of his helmet as he gets into his Mercedes F1 car, with a prominent Ferrari badge alongside him.

Lewis Hamilton will leave Mercedes for Ferrari at the end of 2024.

Norbert Haug admits he was “completely blown away” by Lewis Hamilton’s shock move to Ferrari with the former Mercedes Motorsport VP saying it’s a “mystery” why he’s jumping ship.

Even in the midst of Formula 1’s 2024 launches, Hamilton has dominated the news cycle having announced on February 1 that he had activated an escape clause in his Mercedes contract and would leave the team at the end of the 2024 season.

Shortly after, Ferrari was confirmed as his next team with the Briton signing a multi-year contract to partner Charles Leclerc from 2025.

Ex-Mercedes boss surprised by Lewis Hamilton Ferrari switch

Between Carlos Sainz, who has lost his Ferrari race seat to Hamilton, and Toto Wolff, who said he was on the same page as the seven-time World Champion heading into the Christmas break, it’s fair to say Hamilton’s decision came as a surprise, if not a shock, to many.

Former Vice President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Haug counts himself on that list as he thought Hamilton and Mercedes would be a life-long partnership.

“If I had a bet on one thing, on a combination in Formula 1 that would last forever, it would have been Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes,” he told Motorsport-Magazin.

“I was completely blown away.

“I would have sworn that it would stay that way forever and that he would stay with the silver star as a brand ambassador or whatever afterwards.”

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As for why Hamilton made the call to swap Mercedes for Ferrari, he billed that as the realisation of a “childhood dream.”

That, though, according to Fernando Alonso, is up for debate.

For Haug, it’s all part of the mystery that only Hamilton and maybe his team boss Toto Wolff know the full answer to.

“It’s a mystery. Very few people probably know that. Toto Wolff will know, whether he reveals all of this…” he said.

But one thing is sure: Mercedes will lose more than just a seven-time World Champion when Hamilton walks out of the door.

“I think so, yes. But it can’t be avoided,” said Haug. “For me, he’s perfect.

“What records has he set in Formula 1? Why do people say that Formula 1 has a single superstar?

“Of course [Max] Verstappen is the fastest, he’s maturing, but all the statements that Lewis his performances, his work off the track, his fight for equal treatment. That’s very remarkable.”

As for whether Hamilton could win an eighth World title with Ferrari, Haug believes it is possible.

“He’s fit as a fiddle,” he said before adding: “[But] It takes a lot more effort at 40 than at 20. But they [Formula 1] have many drivers who are physically fitter at 30 than at 20 because they recognise the need and because they know how to feed themselves.”

Read next: How Charles Leclerc reacted to finding out Lewis Hamilton would be new Ferrari teammate