Former Ferrari engineer Rob Smedley believes Ferrari will be a suitable environment for Lewis Hamilton due to his desire to return to winning races and secure his eighth title. Smedley points out that the Italian racing team remains united during tough times, which would suit Hamilton at this point.
Ferrari has been striving since 2008 to bring the title back to Maranello. Kimi Raikkonen is Ferrari’s last champion. Multiple drivers have attempted to win the championship with Ferrari, but there was always another team that performed better. In recent years, those teams have been Red Bull Racing and Mercedes. From 2014 to 2020, the drivers’ title and the constructors’ championship went to Brackley each year, with the last three years going to Red Bull. Mercedes has struggled with their car for a few seasons and could not challenge Red Bull. Therefore, Smedley suspects Ferrari understands how Hamilton feels currently.
What awaits Hamilton? “The way the team will embrace him, because the culture is still the same, one of unwavering belief,” says Smedley on the F1 Nation podcast. “Is Ferrari a big family? No team is a big family. But it’s definitely a very warm team; they remain united during quite difficult times,” the former Ferrari engineer continues. “It seems to me that Lewis thrives in that environment, with that strong positive energy that is constantly there and doesn’t disappear. Tifosi can be angry and let you know when you haven’t done what they expected. But that’s great. You want to be surrounded by people who are honest.”
“He clearly feels that Ferrari has a greater chance than Mercedes”
Smedley thinks Hamilton might be surprised. Mercedes was, of course, big in the United Kingdom because of the Brit, but in Italy, there’s only one team the fans cheer for. “I don’t think there are fans in the world who are as passionate and united as a nation behind their F1 team,” says Smedley. “Ferrari is bigger than the national football team. In Italy, there is only one team, unlike in the United Kingdom where some support Ferrari, others Mercedes, and so on. That brings a huge amount of energy, which Lewis thrives on. He uses the energy of fans.”
Not everyone understood Hamilton’s choice to switch to Ferrari. At Mercedes, he won six of his seven titles, and Ferrari hasn’t won anything for a while. “Drivers like Lewis need a new challenge. He’s had this long collaboration and tremendous successes, but Lewis is a winning machine,” says the former engineer. “If he’s not winning, he’ll do everything to stay motivated with the team, but you can only do that for so long before you… He’s craving that eighth world title. And make no mistake, he’s won everything in the sport and achieved all records, he’s still tied with Schumacher.”
Hamilton is taking a risk by moving to another team, especially just before the regulations are set to change again. Many expect Red Bull to remain dominant until 2025, although many suspect Ferrari will again seriously contend for the title from 2026. “Lewis is a driver who could have retired a long time ago, but he’s driven, he’s hungry because he wants that eighth world title. He clearly feels that Ferrari has a greater chance than Mercedes,” concludes Smedley.
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