History has shown that of world champions who moved to Ferrari, only two were successful

Leone Lewis? Glory not guaranteed as Hamilton seeks Ferrari revival

Former world champions have switched to the Scuderia before but only Fangio and Schumacher have prospered at Maranello

Sebastian Vettel driving for Ferrari in 2015

Sebastian Vettel arrived at Ferrari as a four-times F1 world champion in 2015 but left with the same number of titles. Photograph: Max Rossi/Reuters

nzo Ferrari liked his English drivers. In 1958 the bow-tied Mike Hawthorn became the team’s third world champion. John Surtees won the title in 1964, ending a period of internal turmoil. When Ferrari died in 1988, aged 90, he had just signed up Nigel Mansell for the following season. He liked Mansell’s aggression, his competitive spirit. He would surely have appreciated Lewis Hamilton, too.

As Hamilton pointed out while the ground was still shaking from Thursday’s sudden announcement that he will join the Scuderia Ferrari in 2025, he already knows about driving cars from Maranello. He has two of them in his garage in California. Next year he will take the relationship a step further, into the realm of every young racing driver’s dreams.

The omens are mixed. The seven-time world champion is joining a team that can boast a record 243 wins from 1,076 grands prix. Given that his personal tally is 103 wins from 332 starts, also a record, Hamilton is unlikely to be overawed by the statistics.

But Ferrari’s long history is studded with periods of prolonged and operatic anguish in which a win could not be bought for love or money, such as the dry spells they endured in the late 60s and early 70s and all the way through the 80s and 90s. They are enduring another such drought now, with no drivers’ champion since 2007 and no constructors’ title since 2008.

Hamilton is currently in a low moment of his own. After at least one race win every year between 2007, his debut season, and 2021, he has now gone two years without a victory, a bitter sequel to having the chance of an eighth title unjustly dashed as the 2021 season came to a climax in Abu Dhabi.

At 39, and with perhaps only two or three years left at the very top, he seems to have reached the conclusion that the cars provided by his present team are unlikely to match the currently untouchable performance of Max Verstappen’s Red Bull before a new set of technical regulations comes into force in 2026.

Lewis Hamilton waving in his Mercedes racing suit Lewis Hamilton has won six drivers’ championships at Mercedes but has now gone two seasons without a race victory. Photograph: EPA

He will miss the close relationships developed over the years at Mercedes. Toto Wolff, the team principal, is the man who agreed to have the cars historically known as Silver Arrows painted black in salute to the Black Lives Matter movement – a decision hardly imaginable at Ferrari, where red is sacred, even though the precise shade was once altered to match that of their sponsor, Marlboro cigarettes. He will miss Mercedes’ technical director, James Allison, and his race engineer, Pete Bonnington.

But the presence of Fred Vasseur, who arrived at Ferrari as team principal a year ago, may have swung his decision. They won the Formula 3 and GP2 titles together with teams run by Vasseur while Hamilton was a member of McLaren’s driver development programme. Now Vasseur will be hoping to emulate the impact of Jean Todt, the only other Frenchman to run the team, who arrived in 1995, attracted Michael Schumacher to Maranello, and supervised a run of titles that put the Scuderia back where they are always convinced they belong.

Hamilton proved the sceptics wrong when he moved from a dominant McLaren team to the underperforming Mercedes outfit in 2013. Presumably Vasseur has convinced him that Ferrari now have the technical firepower to match Red Bull, and that there will be no repeat of the strategic errors that often blighted the promise of recent seasons.

Jean Todt embraces Michael Schumacher after winning the 1996 Spanish Grand Prix
Jean Todt embraces Michael Schumacher, the pair who revived Ferrari’s fortunes at the turn of the century. Photograph: Paul-Henri Cahier/Getty Images

He will be racing alongside the gifted Charles Leclerc, 13 years his junior, in the knowledge that while Enzo Ferrari always encouraged internal competition, the team worked most effectively in the periods when first Niki Lauda and then Schumacher had a clear No 1 status. Hamilton will have to fight for that priority against a teammate who is both embedded and cherished in Maranello.

But even in times of trial the red cars remain unique, the only team to have taken part in every world championship since the inaugural series in 1950. They were a new team then, but within a year they had their first grand prix victory and were soon celebrating the triumphs of Alberto Ascari, the first of their nine drivers to win the world title.

Those nine champions represented eight different nationalities: an Italian, an Argentinian, an American, an Austrian, a South African, a German, a Finn and the two Englishmen. Hawthorn became Britain’s first world champion at the wheel of a Ferrari named after Dino, Enzo’s beloved first son, who had died two years earlier of muscular dystrophy, aged 24. Peter Collins, Hawthorn’s pal and teammate, had befriended Dino during his illness. The red cars of the English pair were neck and neck in the championship when Collins was killed at the Nürburgring.

Argentina’s Juan Manuel Fangio driving the Ferrari Lancia D50 in 1956

Argentina’s Juan Manuel Fangio driving the Ferrari Lancia D50 in 1956. Photograph: The Klemantaski Collection

A year after Hawthorn’s title another Englishman, Tony Brooks, came within touching distance of the championship for Ferrari. In 1962 Stirling Moss, the greatest English racer of his generation, was on the verge of racing a Ferrari in F1 when a crash ended his career. Two years later Surtees restored the team’s lustre, but other Englishmen – Cliff Allison, Mike Parkes, Jonathan Williams and Derek Bell – made less impression when they raced briefly for the team in the 60s.

The company was still mourning Enzo’s death when Mansell raised hopes by winning the first race of the 1989 season. He left after two years, a victim of internal politics but with a nickname – Il Leone – reflecting the qualities that had won him a place in the hearts of the Italian fans.

Hamilton will want to leave with more than a nickname. Of the five drivers who, like him, were already world champions when they joined Ferrari, two – Juan Manuel Fangio and Schumacher – went on to win further titles with the team. The three others – Alain Prost, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel – had their hopes of further glory very publicly and sometimes humiliatingly dashed. As Hamilton will discover, a Ferrari driver exists in a world where there are no half measures.

Related Posts

Catriona Gray looking forward to becoming ‘Mrs. Milby’ this year

Catriona Gray has a lot of things to look forward to in 2024. ABS-CBN News caught up with the Miss Universe queen during the launch of the…

Jason Kelce Reveals Wife Kylie Bought Him Khaki Pants for Golf Tournament and ‘Packed Them for Me’

The former Philadelphia Eagles center has been playing in the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament in Lake TahoeGabrielle Rockson is a staff writer-reporter for PEOPLE. She…

WATCH: Kathryn Bernardo shows ‘revenge body’ at sexy Century Tuna Superbods 2024 finals night performance

Actress and new “Superbod” Kathryn Bernardo delivered a provocative dance number at the culmination of Century Tuna Superbods 2024 in Marriott Manila Hotel last night. Dancing to…

“We Love to Play the Game”- LeBron James Praises Steph Curry’s Unbelievable Lob Which Led to His Spectacular Dunk

LeBron James and Stephen Curry created the spark on Wednesday night that the basketball enthusiasts were eagerly expecting. Besides their fantastic individual contribution, the pair’s connection in one of the…

Loose Women star Frankie Bridge’s ‘cool’ jacket is £15 in River Island sale

Loose Women star Frankie Bridge’s ‘cool’ jacket is £15 in River Island saleThe Loose Women star and singer is known for her incredible fashion sense Frankie has…

Marian Rivera trends online after gamely translating a question for ‘Superbods 2024’ candidate

COURTESY: SUPER BODS/FACEBOOK Marian Rivera delighted netizens and trended online after she gamely translated a question for a candidate at a recent beauty and fitness competition.On her…