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Hamilton relives Mansell moment with Ferrari move

Hamilton relives Mansell moment with Ferrari move
Hamilton relives Mansell moment with Ferrari move

Lewis Hamilton will have the same galvanising effect on Ferrari as another British F1 champion achieved when he joined the Scuderia over 30 years ago.

That is the verdict of Paddy Lowe, who worked with Hamilton for ten years at McLaren and Mercedes and played a role in the 39-year-old driver winning the first three of his seven world titles.

Hamilton’s move to Ferrari reminds Lowe of what happened in 1989 when Nigel Mansell left Williams for the Scuderia, where Lowe was then working as co-head of electronics.

The move caused a stir, as Mansell gained iconic status with the Tifosi for his all-or-nothing drives, earning him the nickname ‘Il Leone’ – The Lion.

“I think he (Hamilton) will bring a lot to the team and the team will bring a lot to him,” said Lowe, who served as technical director and engineering director at McLaren before moving to Mercedes in 2013 – the same year as Hamilton – as executive director.

“I congratulate them on their appointment and wish them both all the best together.

“The last time I can remember it being anything like that decision was when Nigel abruptly left for Ferrari when I was at Williams.

“He was christened ‘Il Leone’, and that was a real moment. You remember what a star he was there. He wrestled that car to incredible results.”

When asked if Ferrari has found its new ‘Il Leone’ in Hamilton, Lowe added: “I hope so”

Hamilton to lift Ferrari

Lowe was still driving for Williams when Mansell returned to the team in 1991 after two difficult seasons at Ferrari, with which he had won only three Grands Prix.

Lowe, co-founder of Zero, a British technology company that produces clean, carbon-free fuel in partnership with the Stake F1 team, believes Hamilton’s arrival at Ferrari will provide another boost, just as it did when Mansell returned to Williams.

“I remember Nigel coming back, which was a good moment too,” Lowe said. “The whole factory went up 10ft when it was announced. I think we can see that effect at Ferrari.

“When you have a driver of Lewis’s calibre, an outstanding driver in every sense, coming to work and driving your car – and I can tell you this given the effect Nigel had at Williams – it gives the team a psychological boost.

“Lewis, we can’t deny that, is a phenomenon. On the one hand you think: ‘Wow! He’s someone who’s going to maximise my work, who’s going to wrap the neck of this car. As fast as it goes’.

“And on the other side, everyone feels that tension of ‘I have to perform against that challenge, that opportunity’. People pull their finger out when they realise they’re getting one of the best drivers of all time in their car.

“I think these things work synergistically.”