The Formula 1 rumor that just wouldn't go away, year after year, is finally set to come to fruition, as seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton is set to leave Mercedes at the end of the 2024 season and join Ferrari in 2025, replacing Carlos Sainz Jr. alongside Charles Leclerc.
Hamilton making a move such as this one this late in his career after pretty much everybody had assumed he would call it a career with the Silver Arrows at some point in the near future largely resembles what Tom Brady did four years ago, leaving the New England Patriots to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in pursuit of another Super Bowl win following a 19-year run that featured six.
But perhaps it's another "GOAT" move that truly foreshadowed Hamilton's sensational decision.
Last month, less than a week and a half after the Alabama Crimson Tide's season came to an end against the Michigan Wolverines in the College Football Playoff's Rose Bowl game, legendary head coach Nick Saban made the shocking decision to retire from his head coaching career.
And the similarities between Saban and Hamilton are mind-blowing.
Saban came to Alabama in 2007, which is the same year Hamilton joined Formula 1. Both have won seven total championships, with Saban winning six at Alabama and Hamilton winning six at Mercedes. Both won their most recent titles during COVID-19-shortened 2020 seasons.
Then in 2021, both lost in a winner-take-all championship matchup against a rival whom they had prevoiusly beaten earlier in the year. Alabama lost to Georgia, whom they had beaten to win the SEC championship, while Hamilton lost to Verstappen, whom he had beaten head-to-head in seven 1-2 finishes earlier in the year.
But it doesn't end there.
Should Hamilton not manage to win the 2024 world title, it would mark his first stint at Mercedes without a title in three consecutive seasons. Saban retired after his first stint at Alabama without a title in three consecutive seasons. Hamilton also has just two non-winning seasons to his name; the same can be said for Saban.
In 2021, both were beaten by somewhat "upstart" rivals. Verstappen had never won a championship prior, and Georgia head coach Kirby Smart hadn't either. Georgia then proceeded to go 15-0 the following season and win another national championship. And Verstappen won -- yep -- 15 races the following season, scoring another championship of his own.
To quote a friend with whom I shared this list as somewhat of a joke the day after Saban retired, "now it's eerie".
Does it actually mean anything? Probably not. After all, Hamilton isn't retiring, and who knows what he has yet to achieve in his Formula 1 career.
But a change was coming. It was coming.
And when you really think about it, it is quite bizarre how closely related the careers of these two legends have been thus far. Now the question is this: who becomes Mercedes' Kalen DeBoer?