Lewis Hamilton has stunned Mercedes by switching to Ferrari for the 2025 Formula 1 season.
The seven-time F1 world champion, 39, joined Mercedes in 2013, and signed a new two-year deal last summer at the Silver Arrows, but has now had a shock change of heart as he tries for his record-breaking eighth title as he hurtles towards the end of his racing career.
It’s understood Lewis’ contract contained a break clause after one year, which he has chosen to activate.
Lewis said he was “so proud” of the success he had achieved in 11 years with Mercedes, adding in a statement: “Mercedes has been part of my life since I was 13 years old.
“It’s a place where I have grown up, so making the decision to leave was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make.
“But the time is right for me to take this step and I’m excited to be taking on a new challenge.”
Lewis’ change of allegiance is being hailed by racing commentators as possibly the biggest driver transfer in F1 history.
Lewis was linked with Ferrari in May, but denied reports at the time he was going to move to the team by insisting he wanted to stay at Mercedes “for life”.
He is set to partner Charles Leclerc, 26, next year, leaving Spaniard Carlos Sainz, 29, facing his last year as a Ferrari driver.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, 52, and technical director James Allison, 55, informed Mercedes personnel of Lewis’ departure on Thursday afternoon.
The move leaves the Silver Arrows looking for a driver to partner George Russell, 25, in 2025.
It comes less than a month until the start of the new F1 season, with Lewis set to turn 40 by the time he wears the famous scarlet red on the track.
Lewis added: “I have had an amazing 11 years with (Mercedes) and I’m so proud of what we have achieved together… I will be forever grateful for the incredible support of my Mercedes family, especially Toto for his friendship and leadership and I want to finish on a high together.
“I am 100 per cent committed to delivering the best performance I can this season and making my last year with the Silver Arrows, one to remember.”
Toto said: “In terms of a team-driver pairing, our relationship with Lewis has become the most successful the sport has seen, and that’s something we can look back on with pride; Lewis will always be an important part of Mercedes motorsport history.
“However, we knew our partnership would come to a natural end at some point, and that day has now come.
“We accept Lewis’s decision to seek a fresh challenge, and our opportunities for the future are exciting to contemplate.
“But for now, we still have one season to go, and we are focused on going racing to deliver a strong 2024.”
Lewis missed out on a record-breaking eighth title in 2021 in controversial circumstances during the final F1 race that year in Abu Dhabi, while Mercedes have faced harsh competition from Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, which have streaked to regular victories.