Ricciardo Shares Aspect About Hamilton's Deal With Ferrari That 'Surprised' Him

F1
by Adam OndrikSunday, 11 February 2024 at 10:00
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Daniel Ricciardo described the element that surprised him about Lewis Hamilton's recent team change announcement.
Lewis Hamilton's announcement of leaving Mercedes for Ferrari caught many off guard, including his current team principal, Toto Wolff.
The Austrian admitted he knew Silver Arrows were approaching some of their last seasons with the seven-time World Champion but didn't expect him to leave before the end of the 2024 season.
Many of the F1 drivers said it came as a big surprise to them, but Daniel Ricciardo told Racer that the announcement itself was not something he wouldn't expect.

"Not surprised in the sense that, could I have ever seen him in red? Yes, I could see in his career and the legacy piece and all of that, of course. And obviously, it’s a good team, so he’s got a chance of winning there, for sure."

For most of the 2023 season, Ferrari seemed equal on the pace with Mercedes. Ultimately, the team finished 3 points behind in the Constructors' Championship.
Going into the upcoming season, and then 2025 or 2026, the Italian team does not seem to be the better option in terms of chances of competing for the title compared to Mercedes.
On the other hand, it also doesn't necessarily seem like a worse option. As McLaren's team principal said, at this point in time, there are five teams on the grid equipped to compete for the Championship, and it could be any of them that wins it.
Back to Ricciardo, what surprised him about the 39-year-old's announcement was not that he was changing to Ferrari but rather the timing of it.

"But I was just more thrown by the timing. I think. Obviously, I don’t know the internal stuff that goes on there, so obviously, there’s reasons why it got announced as early as it did. But that part was what threw me more than him going to Ferrari."

Hamilton's move to Ferrari was announced a year early, which is unusual for Formula 1. Now he has to drive one more season for Mercedes with all of his team knowing he will be leaving them in the end no matter what, and that is a bit of an awkward situation.