Daniel Ricciardo says the timing of the announcement that Lewis Hamilton will join Ferrari in 2025 was a bigger surprise than the move itself.
Hamilton exercised a break clause in his contract to allow him to take up an offer from Ferrari next year, with both teams confirming the deal at the start of February, one month before the latest season gets underway. Driver moves are generally solidified and announced in the summer and regularly after the August break, and Ricciardo said the fact it has been finalized so early was unexpected.
“Not surprised in the sense that, could I have ever seen him in red? Yes,” Ricciardo told RACER. “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.
“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.”
Although it leaves Mercedes going into a new season with a driver that it already knows is leaving at the end of the year, Ricciardo believes there’s a benefit for the team as it can assess all of its options with plenty of time to make a decision.
“I look at Mercedes now, they’ve got a whole year to figure out what they’re going to do,” he said. “And I assume in their position, they’re in no rush. So they’ll assess everyone, how they’re doing, the driver market, whatever. So I guess for someone like them, it’s probably a good position to be in.”
The Australian insists he’d rather not be caught up in rumors about his own future throughout the season, despite a potential opening at Red Bull next year alongside the Mercedes vacancy.
“I am by no means looking that far ahead,” he said. “In this part of my career, I think looking far ahead kind of feels like one year closer to the end. So it’s more reason for me to be present now and definitely take it race by race.
“So yeah, silly season, part of me is also happy to not be in all these crazy things, especially this early in the season. So if the silly season happens without me, I’m also OK with that right now!”