Respected Italian journalist Roberto Chinchero believes this is the “right moment” for the Lewis Hamilton-Ferrari union with a view to 2026, as Ferrari salivate over the quality of engineers who will look to follow.
It looked as though the Hamilton to Ferrari dream move was destined to remain Formula 1 fantasy, but now the unthinkable has happened.
F1 2024 will be Hamilton’s final season with Mercedes, with that switch to Ferrari now confirmed from 2025, in one of the biggest driver moves Formula 1 has ever seen.
Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari look to strike in F1 2026
Speaking on the F1 Nation podcast, Chinchero suggested the timing is right on the Hamilton-Ferrari dream team, predicting 2026, when new chassis and power unit regulations come into force, will be the first real opportunity for team and driver to chase title success, Hamilton currently on seven and searching for a record-breaking eighth.
He also confirmed that Ferrari are awaiting the arrival of “at least two high-level engineers” come the end of F1 2024, with both former Mercedes performance director Loïc Serra and their head of trackside performance Riccardo Musconi heavily linked with moves to Maranello in the Italian press.
“It should be the right moment,” he said on Hamilton joining Ferrari.
“Because I think that a new project started with Frederic Vasseur. At the end of this season, at least two high-level engineers are arriving in Maranello because the gardening [leave period] is very long.
“They are investing in a way to manage the budget cap in the right way in order to have the maximum energy possible to develop the car.
“It should be the right moment. Yes. And I think the target is 2026. I think that it should be quite difficult to fight with Red Bull with this generation of car, but 2026 is really a good chance for everybody of course, not only for Ferrari.”
Hamilton will find himself alongside Charles Leclerc at Ferrari come 2025, both drivers sharing the achievement of title-winning success under Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur during their junior careers as part of the ART Grand Prix team which he co-founded.
Also talking up the influence of Ferrari president John Elkann in the push to sign Hamilton, Chinchero said Vasseur had been telling him last year of this initiative to secure Hamilton’s signature, which he described as a “present” that would attract the “best engineers” to Ferrari.
“Part of the job was done by Frederic Vasseur, but the man that pushed so hard to have Lewis is the president John Elkann,” Chinchero confirmed. “It’s not the first time that he tried to convince Lewis to swap from Mercedes to Maranello.
“For sure it is absolutely good business for Fred, he’s a guy that he knows. During the Christmas lunch with the media, he said that he was still calling Lewis at least one time a month, but sometimes every week.
“And remember that he was the team principal and the owner of ART Grand Prix when Lewis won Formula 3 and GP2. He changed the career of Lewis in that moment. So the relationship has always been very strong during 20 years, which is a long time ago.
“For Fred, he will have two guys in the team that are complete different generations like Leclerc and Lewis.
“They both drove and won for ART with Fred Vasseur as team owner, so in that context, the junior categories is perfect to start human relationship. You have no stress, you have less people, you have the possibility to travel together, to live together, everybody’s in the same hotel, everybody’s updated together, so it’s more easy to start with a good friendship.
“And I think for Fred [we] should be saying it’s a kind of victory, because he would like to have Lewis he said last year a couple of times. He said to me, ‘To have Lewis is something that helps you to have also the best engineers. If you have Lewis, it’s like a present card for the best engineers, a guy we are really pushing hard [for] now’.
“And I think also from this point of view, it’s a very good deal for Ferrari.”
The collateral damage in all this is Carlos Sainz, the only non-Red Bull grands prix winner of 2023, who now is searching for a new home come 2025.