A Formula 1 rumor that had been hopelessly regurgitated by the masses year after year after year is actually set to come to fruition in 2025, with seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton slated to leave Mercedes at the end of the 2024 season and join Ferrari.
The move positions Hamilton to potentially go for a record-breaking eighth world championship with a Ferrari team striving to win their first world title since 2008, the same year Hamilton won his first title with McLaren. Ferrari, still the sport's all-time most successful team, have not had a driver win a title since Kimi Raikkonen won it in 2007.
The 2024 season is set to be Hamilton's 12th and final season with Mercedes, which he joined in 2013 after spending the first six seasons of his career at McLaren.
Lewis Hamilton makes Tom Brady-style move to Ferrari
Hamilton's move largely resembles that of Tom Brady -- his former neighbor -- nearly four years ago. The 19-year quarterback for the New England Patriots opted to leave the franchise with which he had won six Super Bowl titles and join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
After Brady won a championship in his first year in Tampa, which hadn't been to the playoffs since 2007, Hamilton will be hoping for similar results.
But just how similar are the moves of the two "GOATs", beyond the obvious element of it taking fans a serious amount of time to get used to them in their new uniforms?
Both moves came about after things started to get stale following years of sustained and unprecedented success. Hamilton won six titles at Mercedes, with Brady winning the same amount in New England. The only difference here is that Hamilton still has a season left to leave Mercedes on a high note, though things don't look all that promising.
Interestingly enough, in both scenarios, it was a bit of controversy that led to things beginning to spiral.
In Hamilton's case, it was the decision to allow some, not all, lapped cars, to unlap themselves for a one-lap sprint to decide the championship between himself and Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi in 2021.
Since being one lap away from an eighth world championship three seasons ago, Hamilton has yet to win another race. His 15-year win streak came to an end in 2022, and he did not stand atop the podium in 2023 either. In fact, Mercedes as a whole experienced their first winless season since 2011 in 2023.
Still, Mercedes were to blame for the flawed strategy that put Hamilton in that position back in 2021. They could have avoided the controversy altogether by having him pit for new tires even one time during the latter stages of the race. Hamilton, a 103-time Grand Prix winner, also technically could have managed to fend off his rival for a single lap.
But Red Bull positioned Verstappen perfectly by pitting him twice, and he capitalized by making the last-lap pass and holding off Hamilton to win his first world championship. Verstappen, now a three-time champion, has won 35 races since Hamilton last won one.
While Hamilton still has another season with Mercedes on his contract until he leaves for Ferrari, in Brady's case, things happened a bit more quickly -- though various reports do suggest that a split was brewing in 2017, possibly even as far back as 2014.
The Patriots started the 2019 season strong at 8-0, and even with a few mid-season losses, they were poised for one of the top two seeds in the AFC. That is, until their game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Wide receiver N'Keal Harry was incorrectly ruled out of bounds after clearly staying in bounds and scoring a touchdown. The Patriots wound up not scoring a touchdown on that drive, and because of the standings ramifications, the missed call cost them a first-round bye -- and a home playoff game against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs -- for the 10th straight year.
Instead, the Patriots were relegated to the Wild Card round, where Brady's Patriots tenure would end with a pick-six to former teammate Logan Ryan. Mahomes would go on to win his first Super Bowl. He has since added a second and is looking to add a third next weekend.
But much like in Hamilton's situation, it wasn't all on the refs; head coach Bill Belichick was to blame for wasting his challenges earlier in the game. A challenge of the Harry play, and for all we know, the Chiefs dynasty never starts. And of course, the Patriots still could have scored a touchdown on that drive, but they couldn't manage it.
Sure, things work a bit differently in Formula 1. Red Bull, in all likelihood, would have given Verstappen a car to win the 2022 and 2023 titles, and given his immense talent, he probably would have capitalized anyway.
But would Hamilton still have felt the need to make a change this late in his career, leaving the team with which he achieved Formula 1 immortality, had he already won an eighth world championship and eclipsed the great Michael Schumacher?
All good things must come to an end, and nowhere is that more accurate than it is in sports. Some good things just turn sour before the end approaches, leading to changes that nobody truly could have anticipated.