However, the last two seasons have not been so easy. Mercedes has struggled to adapt to the new ground effect regulations introduced for 2022, which has seen Red Bull and Max Verstappen blow the competition away. Hamilton was the best non-Red Bull driver last year, but scored 241 points fewer than the Dutch triple world champion. Despite his strong finishing position, Ferrari was often closer to Red Bull on pure pace; the only non-Red Bull victory all year came courtesy of Sainz at the Singapore Grand Prix. Ferrari also took seven pole positions compared to Hamilton’s single pole for Mercedes in Hungary.

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With the 2026 season introducing significant rule changes, Hamilton, much like he did in 2013 with Mercedes, is banking on Ferrari adapting to the new regulations better than the rest.

Where Sainz will now go remains to be seen. A straight swap with Hamilton to Mercedes could prove to be the obvious choice; however, Red Bull could prove to be another possibility, with the contract of under-pressure Sergio Perez up for renewal at the end of 2024.

Five Lewis Hamilton moments of Mercedes magic

First win: Hungary 2013

Hamilton has an astounding record at the Hungaroring, having taken eight wins there – a joint record he holds with both Michael Schumacher at the French Grand Prix, and his own record at Silverstone. It was no surprise, then, that his first win for Mercedes came in Hungary in his first season with the team. He also scored five pole positions on the way to fourth in the standings.

Dual in the desert: Bahrain 2014

Mercedes obliterated the competition at the start of the turbo hybrid era, which meant Hamilton and team mate Nico Rosberg knew early on that they were set for a titanic two-way title scrap. Bahrain produced one of the battles of the season, where Hamilton, on worn tyres, fought off a charging Rosberg on fresh boots, with the Brit taking the spoils. It set the tone for three fiery seasons of competition between the pair.

Qualifying magic: Singapore 2018

Mercedes still had the upper hand on most rivals in 2018, but many believed that Ferrari had the faster car overall. It was left to Hamilton’s skill to make the difference, something he did in stunning style when qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix. In a lap Hamilton himself described as ‘like a dance’ he took pole by over a third of a second from Max Verstappen, something that nobody, even his own team, predicted would be possible.

Tyre troubles: Britain 2020

The 2020 British Grand Prix looked set to be a comfortable Hamilton win, but Pirelli had suffered with tyre failures throughout the race. Entering Brooklands on the final lap, his front left collapsed, forcing him to drag his ailing Mercedes for two thirds of a lap on three wheels – fast enough to hold off the rapidly closing Red Bull of Max Verstappen, but not so fast that he would destroy what was left of his tyre and risk retirement.

Selling the seventh: Turkey 2020

At one point, Michael Schumacher’s seven F1 world championship wins seemed impossible to catch, but Hamilton equaled it – and in style. Damp conditions on a treacherously greasy Istanbul Park circuit saw the Mercedes driver use his innate talent and feel complete the race on bald intermediate tyres, with a winning margin of 31.6 seconds over second-placed Sergio Perez.

Are you happy or heartbroken about Lewis leaving Mercedes? Tell us in the comments section below…

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