Ferrari’s Sainz: No hard feelings to Hamilton

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Carlos Sainz said he had no hard feelings towards seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton over the Briton’s impending move to Ferrari as his replacement.

Hamilton will take Sainz’s seat alongside Charles Leclerc at the Italian glamour team next season in a shock move announced earlier this month.

“I think this is how the sport works and obviously I have a lot of respect for Lewis and the success he’s had and obviously his choice to join Ferrari,” Sainz said sitting alongside Hamilton in a Bahrain Grand Prix press conference on Wednesday.

“I would have done the same in his position,” added the 29-year-old, who himself replaced four-time champion Sebastian Vettel at the Maranello-based team in 2021.

Hamilton, who has not won a race since 2021, signed a two-year extension with Mercedes only last August but activated a break clause to sign a multi-year deal with Ferrari.

The 39-year-old has said he wanted to start a new chapter in his record-breaking Formula One story.

Ferrari are the sport’s most successful team but have not won a drivers’ title since Kimi Raikkonen’s 2007 championship.

“There’s a huge amount of respect between us all and I have a huge amount of respect for Carlos,” the 103-time race winner said. “I don’t feel like there’s any animosity or anything like that.

“It’s not a personal thing, it’s what happens in this racing world and I hope that nothing changes between us through that,” added Hamilton. “I don’t think it will.”

Regarding Sainz’s own future, the Spaniard said he doesn’t know where he’s going next but he wants to maximise his final season with Ferrari.

“I don’t know where I’m going [next], I don’t know what will be my best option … Obviously I will maximise my last year at Ferrari, I really want to have a good last year with this team and give my absolute best for everyone in Maranello.

“I’m going to need to take my time to decide where I go. We will obviously speak with the options available and see what the best long-term project is for me and my career and the best project that gives me the possibility to be a world champion and in the end it’s my dream and the thing I want to do as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, Hamilton said he is focused on delivering for Mercedes this year as he begins his “emotional” farewell season after 11 years with the team.

“I’m 100% a Mercedes driver right now and that’s my sole focus this year, I don’t want to have any of this to distract me from doing the job for the team, I want to finish on a high.

“It is emotional and every week will be emotional because the seat fit is the last seat fit and you remember the first one, the winter test is the last winter test I’ll do with the team, so there’s going to be a lot of emotional experiences within the year but we’ll do it together.”

He added that the move doesn’t change his motivation for the season ahead.

“There has been a huge amount of work over the winter and I have so much faith in this team and I see the motivation in everybody that I’ve worked with for so many years.

“It’s not a normal driver partnering, there’s no other team who have had what we’ve had. There’s no other team that have achieved what we have achieved and the relationships I have with the people within my team go very deep, so my goals are to deliver for them this year.

“Regardless of whether or not this year is a championship winning car, it doesn’t have any bearing on how I feel about the next stage of my career. It’s all about a new chapter in my life and I feel like I’ve done everything I could possibly do with this team.

“I’m on the back end of my career, I love a challenge and this is the ultimate challenge to go to a team that is incredibly iconic, has amazing history, but also has not had as much success as they hoped in the past decade or so.”

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