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Hamilton has timed his F1 Ferrari switch to perfection

Hamilton has timed his F1 Ferrari switch to perfection

Hamilton has timed his F1 Ferrari switch to perfection

Hamilton has timed his F1 Ferrari switch to perfection

Mercedes looks set for another Formula 1 season of strife, judging by the opening three rounds of 2024.

The Silver Arrows had high hopes of putting right what they have wrestled with over the past two seasons since 2022's new aerodynamic regulations.

READ MORE: Mercedes confirm SPECIAL return

However, Australia saw the Anglo-German constructor suffer their worst weekend in years.

An engine issue for Lewis Hamilton had the seven-time champion pulling off to the side of the road with only a quarter of the race over, and George Russell ended the race with his W15 on its side after barrier contact.

This messy Melbourne Sunday led to Mercedes scoring zero points for the first time since the 2021 Azerbaijan GP – a race that Hamilton might've won had he not selected the wrong brake mode for the one-lap dash to the line.

READ MORE: Wolff confirms Verstappen NUMBER ONE target for vacant Mercedes seat

Mercedes' march down the order

Mercedes are struggling in F1

What will hurt most about the 2024 Australian GP is that, unlike Azerbaijan, where Hamilton would've had a podium or a win if not for that fateful error, Russell was battling for P6 rather than trophies.

Even with Max Verstappen unexpectedly out of the race and Mercedes running their heavily redesigned car, they were nowhere near the front to pick up the pieces from a rare Red Bull mishap.

Instead, Ferrari took the glory with a sensational one-two finish, with McLaren only a little further back, while Russell struggled 50 seconds adrift before his crash.

However, I can't help but think that while we saw Carlos Sainz take the win Down Under, the true victor was still at Mercedes.

After all, a man in black overalls was watching from the pit lane after exiting his car an hour earlier, and he saw the team he'll soon be joining stride to victory. Hamilton is a driver who has been at the heart of Mercedes since moving to the Brackley team in 2013, but has seen something happening that has made him want to leave for pastures new.

We may never know whether it's the pull of the Scuderia helmed by his GP2 team manager Frederic Vasseur, or the push by his current employer's downward trajectory that ultimately made him make the seismic decision to swap teams.

READ MORE: Mercedes driver suggests Hamilton struggles could be irreversible

The new-look Ferrari

Frederic Vasseur is managing Ferrari

It's already starting to look like another Hamilton masterclass in team transfers after his leap from McLaren in late 2012.

Yes, Red Bull is the best car for any driver today, and I daresay Hamilton would love to have the RB20 under him for the 2024 season.

Yet, the team would never partner Verstappen with Hamilton when they can feel confident of taking Drivers' and Constructors' crowns without handling the inevitable internal driver conflict.

That only leaves one of the other 'big three' teams of the last decade left, Ferrari, but the Italian outfit have repeatedly become experts at clutching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Vasseur's arrival in 2023, showing the Scuderia's willingness to allow a foreign team principal again, speaks of a new era for Ferrari.

F1's oldest team being the only one to defeat Red Bull in 2023 and 2024 is an encouraging indicator that the pit wall clown show meme days are over, and Melbourne showed that Singapore was no one-off race.

READ MORE: Vettel CONFIRMS F1 comeback and reveals what's holding it up

Hamilton's history of terrific timing

Hamilton won with McLaren

It's on brand for Hamilton to join a team when they are at or near their best, even from his rookie season.

While Fernando Alonso jumped from an amazing car at Renault in 2006 to an amazing car at McLaren in 2007, there are numerous examples of the Spaniard getting his team swaps wrong.

Hamilton was a Ron Dennis prodigy destined for McLaren and would've graduated to the team after his GP2 title no matter where in the pecking order they were.

Fortunately for the newcomer Brit, McLaren had a rocket ship for 2007 after a winless 2006, and the future record holder began taking his first F1 victories in his maiden campaign.

As we saw with Lando Norris following in those footsteps 12 years later, Hamilton might've entered a midfield McLaren team and been happy with top-10 finishes, but that's not how his career went.

With a world championship to his name and regular podium finishes, the F1 world was rocked by the announcement that Hamilton would leave all of that behind in favour of moving to the works Mercedes team for 2013.

This was a Mercedes team with only one win to its name and had no credentials of being a title-contending force in the sport, and we all know how that turned out.

READ MORE: Adrian Newey given HUGE 'offer by F1 rivals to leave Red Bull'

Ferrari's Future promise

Hamilton will join Ferrari

There's no certainty that Ferrari will usurp Red Bull from their lofty perch in 2025, but they have established themselves as the best team on the grid to do so.

Despite how well Sainz is performing, Hamilton joining Maranello can only serve to galvanise his new team, while Mercedes will become weaker no matter who they replace their long-time hero with.

So consider Ferrari's upward swell of momentum behind them right now and add one of the sport's greatest drivers to that mixture; the potential for excellence is palpable.

I raised my eyebrows when I learned the seven-time champion would head to Ferrari, but it already looks like Hamilton is on course for another perfectly timed transfer.

Hamilton needed a season before unleashing his full potential at McLaren and again at Mercedes, so no one should expect he'll be the 2025 world champion.

But this is Lewis Hamilton we're talking about – a driver who has repeatedly shown never to count him out. 2021 round two, but with a Prancing Horse instead of a Silver Arrow? Count me in.

READ MORE: Mercedes F1 star will 'MISS' Japanese Grand Prix

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