Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton decision sets up major chain reaction

Lewis Hamilton is set to leave Mercedes at the end of the 2024 Formula 1 season and join Ferrari as Carlos Sainz Jr.'s replacement.
Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc, Formula 1
Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc, Formula 1 / Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

After joining Mercedes from McLaren in 2013, Lewis Hamilton is set to move on to a new chapter in his Formula 1 career in 2025.

His impending move to Ferrari is surprising, as he had signed a two-year extension to stay with Mercedes last summer. But he activated the release clause in his contract to allow him to leave just one year into his new deal, and he did so even before the 2024 season began.

Given the fact that the 2024 season is a contract year for a large portion of the grid, Hamilton's move should set off a domino effect which results in several moves no one saw coming. Though the largest domino has fallen, it was only the first, and now the focus has turned to Carlos Sainz Jr.

Hamilton’s move solidifies that the Spaniard driver's tenure with Ferrari will not go beyond 2024. But Sainz should have several options for 2025, and his possibilities could evolve as the season progresses and more contracts begin to get signed.

Still, this was a rather harsh way for Sainz to exit Ferrari, considering the fact that he has done quite well for the team over the last three seasons. Could he make the make a move to Mercedes as Hamilton's replacement to complete a driver swap, or is Sauber still his most likely landing spot ahead of the Audi takeover in 2026?

What happens at Mercedes?

Another big focus over the coming weeks will be who Hamilton's replacement as George Russell's new teammate. With Mercedes having been toward the top of Formula 1 for over a decade, they will want to maintain that status going forward, and the open seat will certainly be an attractive landing spot.

At first glance, two names come to mind: Sainz and Williams driver Alex Albon. Both seem like solid fits, and the decision could come down to some of the finer details once Mercedes begin to focus on that choice. One key aspect to note could be the close relationship between Mercedes and Williams, and another could be the same between Russell and Albon.

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With Albon coming off a splendid season in 2023, a much-improved Williams car in 2024 could net him a big move for 2025. However, it is still early. One thing will surely lead to another, and after all 20 drivers kept their seats from 2023 for 2024, the Formula 1 grid is slated to look quite different heading into the 2025 season.