Ferrari boss: Lewis Hamilton signing a 'huge opportunity'

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Lewis Hamilton's arrival in 2025 will provide a "good challenge" for everyone at Ferrari to raise their game, team-boss Fred Vasseur has said.

Hamilton's shock move was announced at the end start of February meaning he will see out the final year of his Mercedes contract before replacing Carlos Sainz in 2025.

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Ferrari launched its car for the coming season on Tuesday, giving Vasseur, Sainz and Hamilton's future teammate Charles Leclerc the chance to talk about the upcoming switch for the first time.

"It's a huge opportunity for the team for sure," Vasseur said.

"We are sure that he will bring us a decent step for the future and it will be a good challenge for everybody.

"We want to be focused on 2024 and we don't want to have any kind of distraction. It's also why we made the announcement so early, because it was important for us to be focused on 2024 for all of the season."

While Ferrari chairman John Elkann has been a long time admirer of Hamilton's talent, Vasseur also played a key role in negotiations. Vasseur was the Brit's team boss when he won the 2006 GP2 championship, a year before his F1 rookie season.

"We have had a good relationship for more than 20 years now," Vasseur said.

"We were always in contact to speak about different things and I think it came up naturally. I don't know what was this easy or what was not, but it came like this, step-by-step."

Sainz, who could replace Hamilton at Mercedes or make the switch to Sauber for 2025, found out before the news became public.

Vasseur admitted it was uncomfortable letting the Spaniard know.

"As you can imagine, it was not the easiest call of my life," Vasseur said of his first discussion with Sainz.

"One of the most difficult, with the one with Toto [Wolff]."

Leclerc said he also had an idea the Hamilton move was on the cards for a while, but that the situation had no baring on his decision to sign an extension with Ferrari.

"These kind of deals are not finalised overnight," Leclerc said.

"It takes time and I was aware of those discussion before signing my deal so it didn't come out as a surprise after signing.

"For the rest I don't want to comment that much, mostly out of respect for Carlos.

"We have had great years and we will do everything we can do finish on the most successful note possible.

"Lewis is an incredible driver, the most successful in history, with a lot experience he will bring to the team and to me.

"It was good that the team was transparent, but it didn't change anything for me."