Lewis Hamilton has confirmed that his move to the Ferrari Formula 1 team in 2025 wouldn’t have happened without the presence of team principal Fred Vasseur.

Hamilton drove for the Frenchman’s ASM F3 team in 2005, winning the European title. The following year he graduated to GP2 with Vasseur’s rebranded ART GP outfit, again winning the championship, before moving into F1 with McLaren.

Inevitably when Vasseur joined Ferrari at the start of 2023 there was speculation that he might attempt to leverage his good relationship with Hamilton in order to lure him away from Mercedes.

That’s what eventually transpired, with the pieces falling into place early this year and Hamilton opting out of the second year of his contract.

“I've got a great relationship with Fred,” said Hamilton when asked by Motorsport.com if Vasseur was the only person who could have convinced him to join Ferrari.

“Obviously I raced with him in F2 and we had amazing success in F3, and also in GP2. That's really where the foundation of our relationship started. We always remained in touch.

“I thought that he was going to be an amazing team manager at some stage and progress to F1, but at the time, he wasn't interested in that.

“It was really cool to see him step into the Alfa team. Then when he got the job at Ferrari, I was just so happy for him.

“I think just the stars aligned, I think it really wouldn't have happened without him. So I'm really grateful and really excited about the work that he's doing there.”

Lewis Hamilton and Frederic Vasseur at Silverston F2 2006

Hamilton stressed that when he first re-signed for Mercedes in August, he was still fully committed to staying with the team for two further years. However he changed his mind over the winter.

“Obviously in the summer I signed, and obviously, at that time, I saw my future with Mercedes,” he said. “But an opportunity came up at the end of the year, and I decided to take it.

“I feel like it was obviously the hardest decision I think I've ever had to make. I've been with Mercedes, I think it's like 26 years they've supported me, and we've had an absolutely incredible journey together.

“We've created history within the sport, and it's something I take a lot of pride in, and I'm very proud of what we've achieved. But I think ultimately, I'm writing my story. And I felt like it was time to start a new chapter.”

Shortly after the news was announced Hamilton said on social media that it was a “childhood dream” to one day drive for Ferrari.

Expanding on the appeal of the team he said: “For every driver growing up, watching the history, watching Michael Schumacher in his prime, I think probably all of us sit in our garage and see the screen pop up and you see the driver in the red car and you wonder what it would be like to be surrounded by the red.

“You go to the Italian GP, and you see a sea of red Ferrari fans, and you can only stand in awe of that. It's a team that's not had like huge success, really, since mostly from Michael's days, but since 2007.

Lewis Hamilton at Bahrain pre-season testing 2024

“I saw it as a huge challenge. Without a doubt, even as a kid, I used to play in [computer game] GP2 as Michael in that car. as my foot in that car. It definitely is a dream, and I'm really, really excited about it.”

Hamilton also confirmed he has never been to Ferrari’s Maranello base.

"I have not,” he said. “I bought my first Ferrari in 2010 I think, as a present to myself. I don't have it anymore. But I didn't get to go during that time. Being with Mercedes I didn't think it was a good look to go at the time.”

Asked if he was planning to learn Italian he said: “In all these years, I've not managed to learn any other languages. But of course, I will definitely try.

“I do remember when I was karting in Italy, and I was able to pick up a few lines. And so hopefully that will come back to me pretty quickly.”

Hamilton was also keen to point out that he remains committed to Mercedes for 2024.

“Just to go back to the new chapter, this chapter is still not finished,” he said. “I'm still 100% focused on delivering for this team this year, and trying to finish on a high.

“That's a big, big goal for me, and the team, and I have absolute faith in everyone in the team. What we've done so far I think is great. So I really hope that we are somehow able to close the gap to the Red Bull.”