Lewis Hamilton possesses a ‘non-poaching’ stipulation in his contract, ensuring he cannot entice essential Mercedes personnel to join him at Ferrari next season.
The seven-time world champion startled the Formula One world this month by revealing his departure from Mercedes at the season’s end to pursue his aspiration of driving for the iconic Ferrari team.
Speculation arose that key figures at Mercedes, with whom Hamilton has fostered strong relationships, such as engineer Pete ‘Bono’ Bonnington, might migrate to the Italian squad alongside him.
However, Autosport disclosed that a ‘non-poaching’ clause exists in Hamilton’s Mercedes agreement, prohibiting team members from following him to Ferrari.
This clause aims to prevent a scenario akin to Michael Schumacher’s transition from Benetton to Ferrari in 1996.
Schumacher, having secured consecutive titles with Benetton in the preceding two years, enjoyed autonomy at Ferrari, which struggled against the dominant Williams team, led by Damon Hill, in the 1996 championship.
In his debut season with Ferrari, Schumacher succeeded in persuading Benetton’s technical director Ross Brawn and chief designer Rory Byrne to join him at his new team, both of whom played pivotal roles in Ferrari’s subsequent dominance, securing five consecutive drivers’ championships between 2000 and 2004.
Schumacher’s inaugural title with Ferrari culminated a 21-year championship drought for the team.
As 2024 marks 17 years since Kimi Raikkonen last secured a drivers’ championship for Ferrari, the team is enduring another extended barren spell.
Hamilton shares a history with Ferrari’s team principal Frederic Vasseur, having collaborated during his championship-winning GP2 season in 2006.
Upon joining Ferrari in 2025, Hamilton anticipates encountering few familiar faces.
Nonetheless, he has fostered a close bond with race engineer Bonnington, prompting Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff to acknowledge the necessity of future discussions regarding their association.
Hamilton’s £40 million move to Ferrari will see him partnering with talented Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc, replacing Spaniard Carlos Sainz.
Expressing his departure from Mercedes on social media, Hamilton articulated, “After an incredible 11 years at Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team, the time has come for me to start a new chapter in my life and I will be joining Scuderia Ferrari in 2025.
“I feel incredibly fortunate, after achieving things with Mercedes that I could only have dreamed of as a kid, that I now have the chance to fulfil another childhood dream. Driving in Ferrari red.”