Can Lewis Hamilton Bring Success Back to Ferrari?

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton (Credit canno73 / Bigstockphoto)

Before the 2024 Formula 1 season even kicked off, seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton, announced that he’d be leaving his current team, Mercedes, at the end of the campaign. And though the legendary F1 driver is 39 years old at the time of writing, he isn’t planning to retire… far from it. He stated that from 2025 he’ll be driving for the most successful team in the history of Formula 1: Ferrari.

Given that Hamilton hasn’t won the World Drivers’ Championship since 2020, and – as we shall soon discover – we have to go even further back for the last time a Ferrari driver won it, could the Brit bring the glory back to the Italian team? In this article, we’ll take a look back at how Ferrari became the most successful Formula 1 team in history, and we’ll assess the likelihood that Hamilton can bring the glory days back to Ferrari.

When Was the Last Time a Ferrari Driver Won a Formula 1 Title?

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Before that, let’s take a glance back to when Ferrari were a truly successful team in Formula 1. The last time Ferrari won a world championship of any kind in the sport was in 2008 when they were crowned Constructors’ Champions thanks to the fantastic partnership of Kimi Räikkönen and Felipe Massa. But neither won the Drivers’ Championship. That honour went to none other than Lewis Hamilton when he won his first-ever F1 title in the most dramatic fashion possible: a successful overtaking manoeuvre on the final bend of the final race of the season! Maybe that stuck in the minds of the powers-that-be at Ferrari and convinced them, all these years later, to make Hamilton their driver.

We have to go back to the season before that to find the last time a Ferrari driver won the title when Räikkönen won his only F1 title in 2007. He finished a point ahead of Hamilton, who was in his debut F1 campaign. Prior to that, Ferrari had a whole load of success, and their total hauls of 15 Drivers’ Championships and 16 Constructors’ Championships are unsurpassed in the sport. Below we show which years they won their titles.

Scuderia Ferrari’s Formula 1 Successes – Drivers’ Championship

Year Driver No of Poles No of Wins
1952 Alberto Ascari 5 6
1953 Alberto Ascari 6 5
1956 Juan Manuel Fangio 6 3
1958 Mike Hawthorn 4 1
1961 Phil Hill 5 2
1964 John Surtees 2 2
1975 Niki Lauda 9 5
1977 Niki Lauda 2 3
1979 Jody Scheckter 1 3
2000 Michael Schumacher 9 9
2001 Michael Schumacher 11 9
2002 Michael Schumacher 7 11
2003 Michael Schumacher 5 6
2004 Michael Schumacher 8 13
2007 Kimi Räikkönen 3 6

As you can see, there are some true legends of motor racing among the Ferrari winners – none more so than the great German driver, Michael Schumacher. Along with his five consecutive Drivers’ Championships with Ferrari, he also won two with Benetton (in 1994 and 1995).

A legend of the early days of Formula 1, Juan Manuel Fangio won five Drivers’ titles in total, splitting them between Ferrari, Mercedes and Maserati.

Scuderia Ferrari’s Formula 1 Successes – Constructors’ Championship

Year Drivers No of Poles No of Wins
1961 Phil Hill* & Wolfgang von Trips 5 6
1964 John Surtees* & Lorenzo Bandini 2 3
1975 Clay Regazzoni & Niki Lauda* 9 6
1976 Niki Lauda & Clay Regazzoni 4 6
1977 Niki Lauda* & Carlos Reutemann 2 4
1979 Jody Scheckter* & Gilles Villeneuve 2 6
1982 Gilles Villeneuve & Didier Pironi 3 3
1983 Patrick Tambay & René Arnoux 8 4
1999 Michael Schumacher & Eddie Irvine 3 6
2000 Michael Schumacher* & Rubens Barrichello 10 10
2001 Michael Schumacher* & Rubens Barrichello 11 9
2002 Michael Schumacher* & Rubens Barrichello 10 15
2003 Michael Schumacher* & Rubens Barrichello 8 8
2004 Michael Schumacher* & Rubens Barrichello 12 15
2007 Felipe Massa & Kimi Räikkönen* 11 9
2008 Kimi Räikkönen & Felipe Massa 8 8

Bold indicates there was no Drivers’ Champion; * indicates who was the Drivers’ Champion

On the Constructors’ Championship side of things, it makes sense that when their drivers have won titles, the Constructors’ Championship has tended to follow. But there have also been a few occasions when they’ve landed the team award when neither of their drivers has managed personal glory.

There have also been several periods when Ferrari have gone through lean spells. In the periods from 1965 to 1974, 1984 to 1998 and 2009 to 2023, Ferrari were unable to land either title. So, could Hamilton be the man to end their current barren spell in 2025?

Can Hamilton Turn Ferrari’s Fortunes Around?

Credit Dan74 / Bigstockphoto

As mentioned, Hamilton’s last Drivers’ Championship came back in 2020, although he was mighty close to a record eighth win the following year. The driver behind the wheel makes a massive difference, of course, but it’s fair to suggest that Max Verstappen’s successes in 2021, 2022 and 2023 were as much about Red Bull’s relative superiority over Mercedes as his personal superiority over Hamilton. So will Ferrari’s 2025 car give Hamilton a fighting chance to bring home the championship? That remains to be seen.

Looking at the 2023 Constructors’ Championship standings, you’d have to say Ferrari have their work cut out if they want to catch up to Red Bull’s standard. In the final points tally, Red Bull had 860 points, Mercedes were way back on 409 and Ferrari were just a whisker behind them on 406. In 2022, however, Ferrari snatched second spot ahead of Mercedes, though they were still more than 200 points behind the champions Red Bull. Hamilton talked of embracing a new challenge after more than a decade at Mercedes, and if he wants to win the Drivers’ Championship again, it will certainly be challenging.

If things go to plan for Hamilton, he’ll finish his time at Mercedes on a high by winning his eighth title, moving him clear at the top of the all-time standings. If that happens, he might not be overly concerned with winning another at Ferrari, though he’d surely welcome it if it looked like even a faint possibility. Whatever happens, the joining together of the legendary team that is Ferrari and the legendary driver that is Lewis Hamilton is bound to be a fascinating collaboration and if it does bring success, it will be welcomed in Italy and around the world.