Hamilton must ask himself if he has made wrong decision to leave Mercedes for Ferrari

Lewis Hamilton wins at Silverstone - but has he made the wrong decision to leave Mercedes for Ferrari?
Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning his ninth British Grand Prix - Getty Images/Mark Thompson

Watching Lewis Hamilton win that extraordinary race at Silverstone on Sunday, his first grand prix victory for 945 days, will live long in the memory. The outpouring of emotion afterwards, sobbing on his father’s shoulder, celebrating with his home fans, only added to the sense of heightened drama.

We knew how much it hurt Hamilton to have that eighth world title ripped away from him in Abu Dhabi three years ago. But to see him show it, and speak about it so openly, felt poignant.

There was one nagging question, though, that had to be brought up afterwards. Midway through Hamilton’s press conference, after he had spoken about the mental torment he had suffered since 2021, and how much it meant to him to share the moment with his family, I asked whether the win felt “bittersweet” as he was leaving Mercedes for Ferrari next year, just as Mercedes finally appeared to be getting their act together.

There is no doubt Hamilton will be looking down the pitlane and feeling slightly alarmed by what he is seeing.

Monaco suddenly seems a long time ago. Ferrari have had one podium since Charles Leclerc’s emotional win in front of his home fans, and four non-scoring finishes between both drivers.

Silverstone was another complete shocker. Carlos Sainz finished fifth, 47 seconds off the lead, despite driving what he felt was “one of the best races I’ve had in the last few years”.

Leclerc, meanwhile, recorded his third non-scoring Sunday in his last four races. Previously Max Verstappen’s closest challenger, the Monegasque managed to progress from 11th to 7th in the early part of the race before Ferrari inexplicably switched him to intermediate tyres way too early, sending him spiralling back down the field. It has almost become a cliche with Ferrari. “Another weekend to forget,” Leclerc admitted afterwards. “And it starts to be a lot. It’s a very hard [period]. I don’t really have the words to explain it, but it’s been four races that it’s been worse than a nightmare.”

Worse than a nightmare? Hardly words to inspire confidence as Hamilton wakes from his Silverstone dream. Jenson Button, speaking after the race on Sky Sports, said he was sure Hamilton would be wondering about his choice. “After he goes to bed, hopefully after a few beers, he’ll be thinking about his future a bit – ‘was that the right decision?’” the 2009 world champion said.

The truth is, though, Hamilton had no way of being sure, when he made his decision at the start of the year, who would be better placed to challenge in 2025. If anything, the lessons of the last two seasons suggested Ferrari would. They certainly looked the better bet six weeks ago. Now Mercedes do. That is Formula One. A month is a long time in the sport. But in Formula One, where the in-season development race progresses at warp speed, it is is an age. Who knows where we will be  six weeks from today?

As for 2026, Hamilton did not even have a contract offer at Mercedes for that year. At least with Ferrari he is guaranteed a crack at the new regulations. And he gets to fulfil the ambition of a lifetime.

Yes he may come to regret it if Mercedes are challenging for the title next year (although it has to be said, even if they are, there is no guarantee Hamilton would beat George Russell, whom he trails 10-2 in qualifying this season) while Ferrari are sending him out on inters for no good reason.

But a change is as good as a rest. Moving to Maranello, sampling a different culture and a different project, will be an interesting final chapter to his career if nothing else. “Sometimes you need a switch, you need something to change so that you are hungry again,” Button noted. “We have seen many drivers do it, then perform at a better level. Sebastian Vettel, for example. It could be that Lewis goes there and suddenly [Ferrari] are on an upturn.”

As for Hamilton, his reply to my question about his Silverstone win potentially feeling ‘bittersweet’ was interesting.

“No,” he insisted. “I think when we started the season and we had a car where we weren’t anywhere near Red Bull, or anywhere near looking like we would ever get a win through the year, that for me felt like it would be kind of ‘bittersweet’ at the end of the season.

“The fact we’ve really all come together, and everyone’s done such a great job to get the car into a place where we’re feeling much more comfortable… so I’m not leaving on a low, but leaving on a high, which has been our goal.”

I’m not sure I’m buying that completely. Hamilton wants that record eighth world title more than anything – and it will sting him for sure if it is Mercedes who overhaul Red Bull in the next year or two. But that is partly in the lap of the gods. For now, he will just enjoy being back in the winners’ circle.

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