Lewis Hamilton’s decision to leave Mercedes for rivals Ferrari is one of the biggest F1 driver moves in many years, but not everyone is sure the 40-year-old is the perfect fit for the Scuderia
A former Formula 1 team owner insists he “wouldn’t have taken” Lewis Hamilton if he was in charge at Ferrari.
The Italians have persuaded the seven-time world champion to quit Mercedes and join them at the end of the upcoming season. At the age of 40, he will start a new chapter of his glorious F1 career and bid to win the title one more time before he retires.
Hamilton will race alongside Charles Leclerc who last month signed a new long-term Ferrari deal. But the team’s desire to secure the Briton’s signature comes at the expense of Carlos Sainz, who must now look for a new race seat for 2025.
Giancarlo Minardi, the former owner of the eponymous F1 team which is now Red Bull’s sister outfit, thinks signing Hamilton is a “brilliant” marketing move by Ferrari. But he is not convinced that the 103-time race winner is the answer to the team’s on-track problems.
“I wouldn’t have taken someone like Hamilton,” he told Italian publication Quotidiano Sportivo. “I swear that in my reasoning, age doesn’t matter. [Fernando] Alonso is even older than Lewis but he’s still very strong. And Hamilton is also still competitive.
“[But] we have to ask ourselves, in all these years, has Ferrari lost because of the fault of those who drove [for] it? No, the Red has not been without titles for a generation due to the responsibility of those behind the wheel.
“It follows that Hamilton is no guarantee of success. Just as [Sebastian] Vettel was not. In F1 it is essential to have a winning car. You don’t build a house starting from the roof but from the foundations.”
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Minardi went on to question how Leclerc will react to being partnered with Hamilton and expressed his belief that it may have been a better idea to stick with Sainz. He added: “How will Leclerc take it? They extended his contract saying they were betting everything on him. A week goes by and they put a legend like Hamilton next to him.
“Let’s say there is more than one oddity in this story. And in any case, I would have kept Sainz – [I like him] a lot. But it could be that he already has a long-term agreement with Audi, which will enter from 2026. In any case, I would have replaced him with a young talent, not with a 40-year-old champion.”
Former Ferrari racer Jean Alesi agrees that keeping Sainz may have been the better call. And the Frenchman was critical of his old team for putting the Spaniard in “an uncomfortable and undeserved situation”.