Lewis Hamilton’s blockbuster Ferrari switch has been the talk of the football world throughout Thursday, including among Manchester United supporters. Mercedes, co-owned by INEOS, are set to lose Hamilton at the end of the 2024 season, which some are hopeful could directly impact United.
The 39-year-old’s decision to leave Mercedes for Ferrari is expected to be confirmed by the parties involved by the end of the day.
Hamilton has spearheaded the Silver Arrows’ success over the last decade, winning 103 races and earning 104 pole positions on his way to seven world titles, making him the most successful driver in F1 history.
But a Mercedes decline in recent years combined with Red Bull’s dominance has left Hamilton without a race win since December 2021.
And, despite signing a new two-year contract in August that expires at the end of the 2025 season, he is set to leave midway through.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe is the co-founder of INEOS, who own one equal third of Mercedes alongside Mercedes-Benz Group AG and Toto Wolff.
He will add United as the piece de resistance of his sporting avenues when the Premier League ratifies his £1.3billion investment for a 29 per cent stake this month.
The Red Devils are expected to make a splash in their first summer transfer window under the INEOS regime, with significant change coming on and off the pitch.
And some supporters are convinced that Mercedes offloading Hamilton from the wage bill will boost the club’s budget for recruitment and infrastructure upgrades in the coming months.
According to Forbes, the Brit earns a base salary of £43.5m on his current Mercedes deal, which is fully guaranteed with no bonuses.
Toto Wolff’s replacement team-mate for George Russell is almost certain to be on a lower wage than Hamilton, which will ultimately save investors’ funds.
But it’s likely inaccurate to believe that United would profit directly from Hamilton’s departure, considering INEOS aren’t the only shareholders and Ratcliffe is helming other sporting projects.
He owns Swiss Super League club FC Lausanne-Sport and Ligue 1 outfit OGC Nice, other than United in football.
INEOS also sponsor the New Zealand rugby team and run the INEOS Grenadiers cycling team (formerly Team Sky) and INEOS Team UK in sailing.
Hamilton will, of course, take his powerful brand along with him to Ferrari in 2025, meaning his Mercedes exit could potentially do more harm than good for Ratcliffe and INEOS.