13 February 2024

Carlos Sainz admits Lewis Hamilton replacing him at Ferrari came as a surprise

13 February 2024

Carlos Sainz admitted Lewis Hamilton’s shock transfer to Ferrari came out of the blue.

Hamilton, 39, will leave Mercedes at the end of the year to replace the Spaniard in 2025.

Speaking for the first time about the biggest transfer in Formula One history, Sainz said: “I was a bit surprised, like everyone in the Formula One world.

“From my side you can understand I got to know the news a bit earlier than anyone else and I had some weeks to reflect and prepare and some weeks to also get ready for the car launch and the first race of the season.

“That gave me a bit of time to digest it and to draw my own conclusions and to focus on the 2024 season.

“I have had lot of messages of support which I would like to thank the F1 world for and friends back at home, who have been very supportive and very encouraging.”

Sainz, 29, was speaking at Ferrari’s launch as they unveiled the challenger they hope will be able to challenge Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

However, Hamilton’s switch to Ferrari leaves two-time race winner Sainz looking for a seat.

Sainz, the only driver outside of Red Bull to claim a victory last year, said: “My next team, I don’t know yet and I have time to decide when that happens next. There are plenty of options out there.

“I am approaching the most important three or four years of my career and I want to make sure that I am in the right place.

“I am going to listen to all the options so when I take the decision I have give myself enough time with enough information.

“It is completely possible to separate one from the other. I have a good management team that will take care of that so my full focus will be on the first race in Bahrain and I am going to start the season as strongly as I can. The other thing will sort itself out as time goes by.

“The fact that I am not going to be a Ferrari driver in 2025 does not mean we don’t want to become champions together this year or win races.”

Hamilton will team up with Charles Leclerc at Ferrari after the Monegasque signed a new long-term contract just days before the British driver’s switch was announced.

Commenting on Hamilton’s transfer, Leclerc, 26, said: “This kind of deal is not finalised overnight. It takes time and I was aware of those discussions before I signed my deal so it did not come as a surprise.

“Obviously, Lewis is an in incredible driver, the most successful in history, with a lot of experience which he brings to the team which is a good thing.”

Leclerc, a five-time winner, revealed he has already spoken to Hamilton.

“I have had discussions with Lewis especially when everything was announced and official. We texted each other.

“Lewis is a great champion with so much success. It is always interesting to have a new team-mate, because you learn different ways of driving and working, and even more so when my new team-mate is a seven-time world champion.”

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