Frederic Vasseur told Carlos Sainz that he was leaving Ferrari over the phone
Ferrari to steal Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes starting in 2025 F1 season
Vasseur said telling Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was the “most difficult” talk
The Ferrari team principal opened up about the phone conversation when he told Carlos Sainz that Lewis Hamilton would replace him.
Frederic Vasseur made the agonizing decision to get rid of Sainz from 2025 despite his three good seasons with the Prancing Horse so far.
Hamilton, 39, will drive one more season for his beloved Mercedes before getting behind the wheel in Ferrari’s iconic red livery on a multi-year deal, as revealed earlier this month.
Vasseur had a test chat with Sainz, but claimed it was even more difficult to break the news to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.
“It wasn’t the easiest call of my life,” he said about telling Sainz. “But the one that was most difficult was Toto’s.”
Ferari team director Frederic Vasseur says his conversation with Carlos Sainz “was not the easiest call of my life”
Vasseur had to tell Sainz that Lewis Hamilton would replace him from the 2025 season
Wolff has been Mercedes team principal since 2013, the same year Hamilton joined the Silver Arrows.
Their relationship has borne fruit in abundance since then, with Hamilotn winning six World Drivers’ Championships and Mercedes winning seven World Constructors’ Championships.
However, Vasseur’s appeal, coupled with an £85m pay package and a compelling argument that Ferrari can help him win a record eighth championship, turned Hamilton’s head.
Vasseur and Hamilton have a special bond that dates back nearly two decades. Hamilton won Formula Three and GP2 (now Formula Two) championships with Vasseur’s ART team in 2005 and 2006.
Vasseur said: ‘We have had a good relationship for more than 20 years. We were always in contact to talk about different things and (the deal) came naturally. I don’t know what was easy or what wasn’t but it was like that, step by step.
‘As for Lewis, it is a great opportunity for the team. “We are sure that it will give us a good step for the future and will be a good challenge for everyone.”
However, he said telling Toto Wolff that he would steal Hamilton from Mercedes was the “most difficult” talk of his life.
Hamilton will reportedly earn £85 million a year at Ferari and will be looking to clinch an eighth World Drivers’ Championship.
Hamilton is desperate to win an eighth championship to move away from Michael Schumacher in the record books and have more of an advantage over Max Vertsappen, who already has three at the age of 26.
Incredible longevity is possible in Formula 1, as Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen have demonstrated in recent seasons, but Hamilton will know he is at the end of his career.
At Ferrari he will join Charles Leclerc, the Monegasque driver who signed a new contract in January until 2029.
Leclerc is clearly talented, finishing second in 2022 and recently revealing his own ambition to win the title.
Of Hamilton, he said: “This kind of deal doesn’t happen overnight.” It takes time and I was aware of those discussions before signing the contract, so it wasn’t a surprise.
‘I’ve had conversations with Lewis, especially when everything was announced and official. We text each other.
Vasseur has long been a mentor to Hamilton and was his team manager in 2006 and 2007.
Charles Leclerc said he knew Hamilton was in talks to join even before signing his contract extension in January.
“Obviously Lewis is an incredible driver, the most successful ever, with a lot of experience that he brings to the team, which is a good thing.”
‘Lewis is a great champion with a lot of success. It is always interesting to have a new teammate, because you learn different ways of driving and working, and even more so when my new teammate is a seven-time world champion.”