Lewis Hamilton’s Ferrari switch ‘like Lionel Messi joining Inter Miami’ and great for F1

Alex Albon declared Lewis Hamilton’s impending move to Ferrari is as seismic for Formula 1 as Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami transfer was in football.

Hamilton will bring to an end his 11-year stay with Mercedes at the end of the coming 2024 season. He heads to Ferrari to compete alongside Charles Leclerc, while the unfortunate Carlos Sainz finds himself in need of a new F1 race seat elsewhere.

The announcement last Thursday completely overshadowed football’s January transfer deadline day. For Williams star Albon, it was reminiscent of the news that Messi would be moving to MLS with David Beckham’s Miami-based franchise.

And the British-Thai racer was as surprised and excited as everyone else to watch it unfold. He told reporters: “It’s great for the sport. What a news story it was. I didn’t see it coming but good for him – I think he wants that change up.

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“It just shows you how big Lewis is, seeing the stock of Ferrari going up as much as it did and the general perception of the news, definitely for me it was one of those pinch yourself moments.

“Is this is a real story? There were so many rumours going around over the winter, you didn’t know what had any credibility or not. The Ferrari one definitely seemed to be a rumour to me until it turned out to be a real thing.

“It reminds me of the Messi to [Inter] Miami transfer – on such a huge scale and just shows you the appetite for F1. It leaves a lot of questions for the driver market as well and opens that up.” Albon’s boss James Vowles was similarly taken-aback by the timing of the announcement – but not at all surprised by Hamilton’s desire to move to Italy.

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Vowles knows the seven-time world champion very well having worked with him for years at Mercedes – but feels his old team will be better off for Hamilton’s exit in the long-run. He said: “The timing came as a surprise to me – his want and desire to be in a Ferrari at some point in his career? No. I think most world champions have either been there or have a desire to be there, because it’s a force of nature.

“It is still the most successful team in Formula 1 – Williams is the second-most successful team in Formula 1 – and that can’t be ignored. It’s the hardest thing you do, for every human in the world, to move from where you’re comfortable to where you’re not challenges you and pushes you to the limit. And that’s Lewis all over.

“The fact he’s doing it, I actually think it’s good for the sport. It’ll be good for Lewis, because he’ll learn from it and he’ll challenge himself. It’s not good for Mercedes in the short-term but, actually, I think you’re going to see they’re going to be absolutely fine on where they get to on drivers and they will come back stronger as a result. So, ultimately, it’s a good thing all round in time.”

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