Credit where credit is due! Ferrari president John Elkann has been relatively low-key during his tenure as the big boss of the sport’s most loved Formula 1 team, but he hit a ‘home run’ out of the F1 paddock by signing Lewis Hamilton to his team. So who’s next on the list for the Reds?
Huge kudos to Elkann, often underfire in the past for his ultra-subtle interest in the team he inherited from grandad Gianni Agnelli who saved the great Italian marque for Enzo Ferrari. But on February 1, 2024, he orchestrated the F1 News of the Century by securing the services of Lewis Hamilton.
I imagine Lewis telling Elkann something like: “I would like to end my career at Ferrari…” And the Boss making him an offer he can’t refuse. Probable amounting to north of $40-million etc etc.
Contrary to the narrative being spewed out by the clueless ‘media’ and influencers (that proliferate the F1 landscape) that somehow Lewis realised the new 2024 F1 Mercedes was rubbish, and with nothing to lose, inked a deal with Ferrari as a last resort. Clueless!
This was simply the greatest ‘marriage’ for F1, it is beyond World Titles and Mercedes having a fast car or Ferrari having a faster car. It’s about legacy and destiny. The way I reckon it happened is during the summer break or shortly after last year during a get-together between Elkann and Hamilton.
They decided there and then to do the deal. By around Las Vegas time, Hamilton flaunted a Ferrari-red ensemble (pictured below) during that weekend which was perhaps a clue that the deal was done. If so, in retrospect it was very, very cheeky by LH44!
The Ferrari-Hamilton news is just too massive for the moment
Since then, Hamilton has been restructuring his management team and possibly figuring a way to break the news to his number one fan and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. With that out of the way, the timeline to announce so early is questionable but inevitable as Hamilton’s signing for Ferrari was not a secret that could be kept forever.
So less than a week ago the “Ferrari sign Hamilton” headline went globally viral, relegating the previous viral story which was that of F1 rejecting the Andretti-Cadillac 11th team bid, rendering it to the backburner for now. But certainly stealing all the wind out of an outrageous decision.
But the Ferrari-Hamilton news is just too massive for the moment to ignore and for us to not analyse the repercussions and speculate about the possibilities.
Max Verstappen remains the best F1 driver I have ever witnessed in 50 years following this sport, and for that, he is my current favourite. Lewis has always been ‘My Man’ and therefore I will consider myself a part-time-Tifosi as long as he is at Maranello.
However speculating on how can Elkann deliver some more home runs for Ferrari now that he has Hamilton in his team, alongside Charles Leclerc, a formidable pairing.
Who’s next Adrian Newey? Then Max Verstappen?
Adrian Newey! With new F1 rules not only for 2026 but also beyond that, Ferrari needs the Red Bull design guru in Red as soon as possible.
With Christian Horner mixed up in an internal investigation into alleged inappropriate conduct, which may cost him his job by all accounts, Ferrari may not need to break the bank to extract the sport’s preeminent engineer, whose designs are being chased without success and winning as if they are in another class.
Horner is innocent until proven guilty on the allegations, however, the incident has revealed cracks in the World Champion team’s top management structure. This is sure to be a an opportunity foe Ferrari to tap up Red Bull’s greatest asset.
With Newey on board, then the final piece of Elkann’s hat-trick of great decisions to turn Ferrari into the most potent F1 team in history: in 2029 when Hamilton will most likely retire, and Verstappen joins.
That would be my master plan. It into the old ethos that Ferrari is a team for F1 World Champions to come to and flourish or maybe not. Michael Schumacher (Jean Todt, Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne et al) setting the template of bringing a World Champ to get the ball rolling.
Hamilton is the first ball to roll to Maranello, Newey next? Then Verstappen? While Lewis does his time at Maranello, Newey follows in the nearish future and then, when LH44 quits, “Ferstappen to Ferrari” has a good ring to it! And may have DESTINY written all over it. Let’s see…