Given both Ferrari and Mercedes’ struggles last season and this season, the rumour mill has been working overtime suggesting that star drivers, Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton, would be switching to each other’s respective teams. The strange thing about this theory, is that it doesn’t make much sense.
Former F1 team owner, Eddie Jordan (via Planet F1), wants to see Hamilton at Ferrari as he believes the sport “needs Lewis Hamilton in a Ferrari.” Jordan cites Toto Wolff’s own comments on Mercedes’ recent performance and suggestion that Hamilton should move on if they aren’t able to provide him a championship winning car. The problem is that moving to Ferrari wouldn’t solve this.
Ferrari’s pace in 2023 is a step down from last year’s and Mercedes are at least on par with them this year, so why change when Hamilton knows the team at Mercedes so well? If anything, Hamilton would consider retiring rather than moving to Ferrari as that would be a step sideways rather than forwards.
Jordan’s point continues, “At the moment, there’s no contract signed and Toto Wolff said if he was Hamilton he would consider leaving. What would I be thinking if I was Hamilton, am I really loved here? What is actually happening at Mercedes?”
Is Hamilton loved at Mercedes? What a ridiculous notion. He has won seven World Championships with this team, he has proven his skill and ability time and again, he works well with the engineers, what else is he supposed to do? What is happening at Mercedes? Few would know that better than Hamilton, so he isn’t confused on that note.
Now the case of Charles Leclerc is an interesting one because it’s entangled in all the media drama surrounding the team. The media has suggested that Leclerc being Championship winning material should leave Ferrari to make that happen. Mercedes has been suggested as a replacement, but you run into the same problems with Hamilton leaving, it’s a step sideways. Ferrari is part of the Big Three and the best performing of those three is Red Bull, and Max Verstappen isn’t going anywhere nor is Sergio Perez. There isn’t really anywhere else to go if you expect to win a championship.
Leclerc himself has dismissed these rumours when he told Italian newspaper QN (via RacingNews365), “I know you are worried that I would go to Mercedes, but the truth is that there are no talks at all. I feel good here at Ferrari and I feel the enthusiasm of the people. The idea of winning with Ferrari makes me excited.”
You have to understand that Ferrari has a mythical quality to it. It’s almost as if winning a championship with Ferrari means more than winning a championship with anyone else. Part of this is marketing, part of this is their racing legacy. Leclerc likely grew up with a Ferrari poster on his wall like so many other young boys, so winning a championship with them probably has greater weight to it for him. That is an assumption as we don’t know Leclerc personally and have no idea what is going on in his head, but if the man lives and breathes racing, then Ferrari was almost certainly apart of his youth.
It’s easy to leave a team while they aren’t doing well, and if it was a team like AlphaTauri, then yes, you would be wise to leave, but a Big Three team? What kind of character does that show? That you jump ship as soon as the going gets rough? In Hamilton’s case it would prove to many people that it wasn’t him who won those championships, but the car.
For Leclerc it isn’t as clear cut as he has already been with Ferrari for several years while they haven’t been competitive, and when they were, the team failed him. Ferrari haven’t won a championship for over a decade; it takes time to get there, and Leclerc is a core part of the machine needed to do so. In addition, would you leave a workplace that treats you like the golden boy? No, and you especially wouldn’t if that team was the mythical Ferrari. It isn’t like Sebastian Vettel’s stint at Ferrari where they essentially pushed him out.
So no, neither of these phenomenal drivers are leaving their respective teams, there’s just little reason to do so.
For more, we question whether the 2023 season has already been decided?