Lewis Hamilton’s move to Ferrari for 2025 has been hailed as a positive development for the sport by the strategist behind many of his wins at Mercedes.
James Vowles, now team principal at Williams, worked with the seven-times world champion during all six of his championship-winning seasons with the Silver Arrows.
Following the news that Hamilton had signed a deal to race for Ferrari in 2025 despite signing a two-year contract extension with Mercedes towards the end of last year, Vowles admitted he had not been expecting the news.
“The timing came as a surprise to me,” he told media including RaceFans. “His want and desire to be in a Ferrari at some point in his career? No.
“I think most world champions have either been there or have a desire to be there, because it’s a force of nature. It is still the most successful team in Formula 1 – Williams is the second-most successful team in Formula 1 – and that can’t be ignored. It’s the hardest thing you do, for every human in the world, to move from where you’re comfortable to where you’re not challenges you and pushes you to the limit – and that’s Lewis all over.
“So the fact he’s doing it, I actually think it’s good for the sport. It’ll be good for Lewis, because he’ll learn from it and he’ll challenge himself.”
Despite his former team losing their most successful driver ever, Vowles is confident Mercedes will not be too negatively affected his departure.
“It’s not good for Mercedes in the short-term, but actually, I think you’re going to see they’re going to be absolutely fine on where they get to on drivers and they will come back stronger as a result,” he said. “So ultimately it’s a good thing all round in time.”
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Hamilton’s impending departure from Mercedes has prompted speculation over who will replace him next season, with Williams driver Alexander Albon touted as a potential replacement. However, Vowles insisted that his most experienced driver remains under contract with the team.
“Alex is signed in Williams until the end of 2025,” he said. “That’s signed. It’s not something I’ve been very public about, because I don’t feel the need to. So any reports that you’re seeing – and there’s one in particular – that individual is speculating at best.
“As I’ve also said publicly, it is our job at Williams to create an environment that deserves someone of the calibre of Alex. Simple…