On Thursday it was revealed that Hamilton will leave Mercedes to join rival Ferrari from the start of the 2025 season.
Top drivers who change teams are often joined by staff with whom they worked at their previous outfits, either because they specifically ask trusted colleagues to join them or because the individuals concerned enjoy working with the driver.
The new team is usually open to the idea of bringing familiar faces with him to help the driver settle into an unfamiliar environment.
In 1996, Michael Schumacher was followed from Benetton to Ferrari by technical director Ross Brawn and chief designer Rory Byrne as well as other key Enstone team members, all of whom were identified by then Maranello boss Jean Todt as key elements of a winning package.
In other notable examples, race engineer Jock Clear followed Jacques Villeneuve from Williams to BAR in 2000, while in 2015 Andrea Stella joined Fernando Alonso in the move from Ferrari to McLaren, staying on after the Spaniard left to eventually become team principal.
Hamilton has a special relationship with ‘Bono’, who has been at the Brackley team since the early Honda era after starting his career at Jordan.
While it’s not known if Bonnington is willing to move his life to Italy, Wolff indicated that he expects the subject to come up.
“I think this is a discussion which everyone needs to have in the months to come,” Wolff said.
“And as much as I’ve spoken with Bono already, when I told him [about Hamilton’s move] he said, ‘Is it April the first?’ That’s something which we will discuss in the future.”
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, on the grid with Peter Bonnington, Senior Race Engineer, Mercedes AMG
Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images
One complication is that Bonnington would have to stay with Mercedes until the final race of this season in Abu Dhabi on December 8 and then be available for Ferrari at the start of 2025, making for a very tight transition in terms of gardening leave.
Aside from team principal Fred Vasseur, Hamilton will find few familiar faces at Ferrari, although former Mercedes performance director Loic Serra was one of Vasseur’s first key hires, and will start officially at the team next year.
Hamilton also worked with Clear in his first two years at Mercedes, although the latter’s main current focus is on Ferrari’s young driver programme.
If Bonnington is available to step into the race engineer job at Ferrari the team would have…